MUNICIPAL ELECTED OFFICIALS SURVEY DECEMBER, 1996

1.) Do you feel the property tax-based system currently utilized by municipal governments in Pennsylvania is fair and equitable to most segments of your community?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
FAIR

34%

34%

27%

36%

UNFAIR

64%

66%

71%

60%

NO OPINION

2%

0%

2%

4%


2.) Would you favor or oppose replacing property/real estate taxes with a local tax on earned income?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
FAVOR

63%

60%

69%

62%

OPPOSE

35%

36%

31%

35%

NO OPINION

2%

4%

0%

3%


3.) Would you favor or oppose replacing property/real estate taxes with a local sales tax?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
FAVOR

40%

42%

35%

40%

OPPOSE

56%

55%

57%

55%

NO OPINION

4%

3%

8%

5%


4.) If your only choices were replacing property/real estate taxes with either a local earned income tax or a sales tax, which would you favor?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
EARNED INCOME TAX

67%

58%

72%

70%

SALES TAX

29%

35%

20%

28%

NO OPINION

4%

7%

8%

2%


5.) Would you favor or oppose allowing municipal governments to enact a COMBINATION of property/real estate taxes, earned incomes taxes and local sales taxes?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
FAVOR

56%

62%

31%

62%

OPPOSE

41%

37%

65%

34%

NO OPINION

3%

1%

4%

4%


6.) IF municipal governments were permitted to enact a COMBINATION of property/real estate taxes, earned income taxes and local sales taxes, do you feel they should be REQUIRED to reduce the current property/real estate tax by the same amount the earned income or local sales taxes would generate?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

82%

82%

86%

80%

NO

17%

18%

10%

19%

NO OPINION

1%

0%

4%

1%


7.) Do you think a ballot referendum, to obtain the approval of voters, should be required before any municipal government can replace property/real estate taxes with a local earned income tax, sales tax or combination of taxes?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

69%

73%

76%

63%

NO

30%

27%

22%

36%

NO OPINION

1%

0%

2%

1%


8.) IF a municipal government did switch to a COMBINATION of property/real estate taxes and/or local earned income and sales taxes, do you feel voter approval through a referendum should be required to approve any FUTURE property/real estate tax increases?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

53%

58%

65%

44%

NO

46%

42%

33%

53%

NO OPINION

1%

0%

2%

3%


9.) IF a municipal government switches to a COMBINATION of property/real estate taxes and/or local earned income and sales taxes, do you feel that, for every dollar collected in new tax revenue, property/real estate taxes and other current taxes would have to be reduced by one dollar?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

64%

68%

78%

56%

NO

31%

31%

16%

38%

NO OPINION

5%

1%

6%

6%


10.) WHEN a municipal government switches to a new system, do you feel that the so-called "nuisance taxes" (personal property tax, occupational assessment tax, occupational privilege tax and per capita tax) should be eliminated?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

79%

78%

82%

79%

NO

17%

18%

12%

18%

NO OPINION

4%

4%

6%

3%


11.) Do you favor or oppose requiring non-profit charitable organization to pay real estate/property taxes?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

40%

43%

47%

35%

NO

54%

55%

47%

56%

NO OPINION

6%

2%

6%

8%


If you OPPOSE requiring non-profit charitable organization to pay real estate/property taxes, would you favor or oppose requiring the to pay a FEE IN LIEU OF TAXES to help pay for services provided by municipal government?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
FAVOR

69%

72%

57%

71%

OPPOSE

23%

21%

31%

20%

NO OPINION

8%

7%

12%

9%


12.) Should municipal tax dollars be used to help fund such facilities as sports stadiums?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

13%

19%

8%

11%

NO

80%

79%

84%

79%

NO OPINION

7%

2%

8%

10%


13.) Should recreational and cultural organizations have a dedicated source of public funds, such as a sales tax?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

33%

36%

24%

36%

NO

65%

62%

76%

62%

NO OPINION

2%

2%

0%

2%


IF YES, should such organizations be required to appear before elected officials each year to justify their budgets?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

87%

84%

79%

91%

NO

9%

9%

16%

6%

NO OPINION

4%

7%

5%

3%


14.) Do you think county and/or municipal government(s) should be required to receive voter approval through a referendum before raising taxes to support cultural organizations and/or profit- seeking entertainment businesses such as baseball teams?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

85%

84%

96%

81%

NO

14%

14%

4%

18%

NO OPINION

1%

2%

0%

1%


15.) Do you think it would be cost-effective for your municipality to merge certain services, such as police departments, with surrounding municipalities?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

65%

67%

61%

65%

NO

30%

33%

29%

28%

NO OPINION

5%

0%

10%

7%


16.) Do you think it would be politically POSSIBLE for your municipality to merge certain services, such as police departments, with surrounding municipalities?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

52%

55%

60%

47%

NO

44%

44%

36%

48%

NO OPINION

4%

1%

4%

5%


17.) Generally speaking, do you feel the number of municipal government in Pennsylvania should be reduced through mergers, or should municipalities maintain their independence?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
MERGE

39%

49%

40%

32%

REMAIN INDEPENDENT

58%

50%

52%

66%

NO OPINION

3%

1%

8%

2%


18.) Generally speaking, do you feel more regional cooperation with other municipalities in your geographic area would be desirable?

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
YES

86%

88%

80%

88%

NO

11%

10%

16%

10%

NO OPINION

3%

2%

4%

2%


19.) Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements:

     A. The local government I serve is unable to make good decisions about economic development opportunities.

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
AGREE

86%

81%

96%

85%

DISAGREE

14%

18%

4%

15%


     B. Centralized provision of government services by the county is likely to provide better services for my municipality than we have now.

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
AGREE

21%

25%

24%

17%

DISAGREE

79%

75%

76%

83%


     C. The power of local government power over zoning decisions should be eliminated.

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
AGREE

6%

6%

4%

7%

DISAGREE

94%

94%

96%

93%


     D. The power of county government to set and collect taxes should be increased.

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
AGREE

19%

20%

13%

21%

DISAGREE

81%

80%

87%

79%


     E. There should be a regional tax sharing system.

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
AGREE

49%

71%

31%

42%

DISAGREE

51%

29%

69%

58%


     F. County "row offices" should be eliminated as elected positions.

  AGG Allegheny Cumberland Montgomery
AGREE

52%

68%

37%

46%

DISAGREE

48%

32%

63%

54%


METHODOLOGY:

A total of 1,000 surveys were mailed to elected municipal officials (city & borough mayors, council members and treasurers; township commissioners, supervisors and tax collectors) in Allegheny, Cumberland and Montgomery counties on Monday, December 2, 1996. By the response deadline of December 20, 1996, 251 valid surveys were completed and returned to the Lincoln Institute for a response rate of 25.1%.