Local residents got a chance to chime in on the best ways for the city to increase its revenues, as City Council struggles with an anticipated $110 million deficit for the coming fiscal year. Potential voters were presented with three options: do they reduce services, increase taxes, or lower city employee compensation. Of the 903 adults surveyed, 45 percent said to lower employee wages. Though it was not an absolute majority, it polled higher than raising taxes and cutting services combined, though this could be because non-municipal workers believed that this would affect them least. If this is not enough, slightly more residents favored cutting services than raising taxes.
That is not to say that taxes were completely unpopular, even if they directly affect the citizens. For example, 60 percent favored introducing a quarter-cent citywide sales tax, 57 percent favored increasing the city’s business tax, and 55 percent approved of increasing the tax paid by waste disposal companies from $13 to $17 per ton. Least popular was a proposed $95 parcel tax: when suggested that revenues be used for infrastructure, 45 percent approved it, while the suggestion that it be used for public safety expenses was approved by 42 percent. In neither case was it approved, though the numbers seem to indicate that residents would prefer fixing potholes than adding cops to the beat.
What may have worried unions most was a proposal that layoffs be based on performance rather than seniority. The idea, touted by City Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio as worthy of investigation, received 79 percent support. The Municipal Employees’ Federation was unhappy with this result, and accused the pollsters of “unfairly targeting city workers” to serve Council members’ political agendas. A fight over next year’s budget seems to have started brewing already.
The poll was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates.