Northeast Times

Survey says: Service cuts OK — with lower taxes

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A ma­jor­ity of North­east res­id­ents would like to see their mu­ni­cip­al taxes lowered. That’s prob­ably not a big sur­prise. However, they want taxes to de­crease even if that means few­er city ser­vices, a sur­vey re­leased Tues­day shows.

Fifty-one per­cent of the North­east re­spond­ents to a Pew Char­it­able Trusts poll said they would ac­cept less if they could see their taxes lowered. Res­id­ents of no oth­er sec­tions of the city felt as strongly.

City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill (R-10 dist.) isn’t sur­prised by North­east res­id­ents’ opin­ions.

“We’re in a re­ces­sion. A lot of people are hurt­ing,” he said Tues­day. However, he ad­ded, cut­ting ser­vices in the North­east would be a chal­lenge com­pared to oth­er parts of Philly be­cause city ser­vices here already are bare bones.

On the at­ti­tu­din­al flip side, South and West Philly res­id­ents said they’re will­ing to pay high­er taxes to get more from the city.

Fifty-four per­cent of the Phil­adelphi­ans polled said they pay too much in taxes. Only 12 per­cent said they get their money’s worth for their tax dol­lars; and 27 per­cent said they got a good deal for their taxes.

The sur­vey res­ults made pub­lic Tues­day morn­ing com­posed the second col­lec­tion of polling data about the city that Pew’s Phil­adelphia Re­search Ini­ti­at­ive has re­leased this month. And, as in the first sur­vey, the opin­ions of North­east res­id­ents differed on some points from those of oth­er Phil­adelphi­ans.

Asked if they were OK with ad­vert­ising in City Hall and oth­er city prop­er­ties to bring in rev­en­ue, 61 per­cent of the North­east res­id­ents polled said they were. Only 30 per­cent op­posed the idea. City­wide, the num­bers were 56 per­cent for and 34 per­cent against. The idea got ma­jor­ity ap­provals in all city neigh­bor­hoods, but none sup­por­ted the idea as much as North­east res­id­ents did.

City­wide, poll re­spond­ents were pretty much di­vided on wheth­er the city should tax sug­ary drinks to raise needed funds. An­swers to that ques­tion were lis­ted as “Fa­vor Strongly,” “Fa­vor – Not Strongly,” “Op­pose – Not Strongly” and “Op­pose Strongly.”

El­ev­en per­cent of North­east’s res­id­ents op­posed, though not strongly, the idea, which the ad­min­is­tra­tion of May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter un­suc­cess­fully has tried to move through City Coun­cil twice. Forty per­cent strongly op­posed the concept. The oth­er side of that 51 per­cent total op­pos­i­tion was a 32-per­cent strongly fa­vor­able and not strongly fa­vor­able of 11 per­cent.

City­wide, the fa­vor­ables on what has been called the “soda tax” ad­ded up to 46 per­cent, and the op­posed, 49 per­cent. Fa­vor­able failed to get a ma­jor­ity any­where in the city. The op­pos­i­tion totals in North and North­w­est Phil­adelphia topped North­east Philly’s 51 per­cent with 54 and 55 per­cent re­spect­ively, but the res­id­ents of no oth­er sec­tions were as strongly op­posed to the sug­ary drink tax ideas as North­east res­id­ents.

Pep­si, loc­ated at Roosevelt Boulevard and Comly Road, is a big em­ploy­er.

The poll re­spond­ents from the North­east were close to the city­wide per­cent­ages on a ques­tion about pen­sion be­ne­fits for newly hired city work­ers. Forty-three per­cent of the North­east’s res­id­ents said new hires should get the same perks as oth­er city work­ers; 46 per­cent said giv­ing the new­bies less was OK.

Close to the city­wide num­bers, but a flip non­ethe­less. City­wide, 47 per­cent said new city em­ploy­ees shouldn’t get lower be­ne­fits, and 43 per­cent said lower was fine with them.

Sur­vey re­spond­ents were asked to rate city ser­vices as ex­cel­lent, good, only fair or poor.

Ex­cel­lents were nev­er in the ma­jor­ity, but fire pro­tec­tion, trash col­lec­tion and lib­rary ser­vices drew a lot of ap­pre­ci­ation.

Of those sur­veyed, 23 per­cent rated fire pro­tec­tion ex­cel­lent and 51 per­cent said it was good. Trash col­lec­tion was rated ex­cel­lent by 17 per­cent and good by 51 per­cent.

City­wide, lib­rary ser­vices got the top rat­ing from 17 per­cent, with 46 per­cent rat­ing them good. North­east res­id­ents had a high­er opin­ion of the lib­rary, giv­ing it a com­bined ex­cel­lent/good rat­ing of 68 per­cent.

Po­lice, trans­port­a­tion, parks and play­grounds all got pretty good marks, too. Street re­pair and main­ten­ance got the few­est ex­cel­lents — just 3 per­cent — and pub­lic schools didn’t do much bet­ter at 4 per­cent. Street re­pair got the strongest poor rat­ing — 38 per­cent. Schools were close; they got poor rat­ings from 36 per­cent.

Of the 1,600 Phil­adelphi­ans polled in Janu­ary, 335 were from the North­east. Not all answered all ques­tions.

Poll res­ults re­leased earli­er this month showed North­east Phil­adelphi­ans lined up with oth­er city res­id­ents in their ap­prov­al of the may­or and their wor­ries about crime.

However, North­east res­id­ents felt more strongly than those from oth­er neigh­bor­hoods that the city has got­ten worse in the past five years. More than 40 per­cent of North­east res­id­ents sur­veyed also re­garded im­mig­rants as bur­dens, not as­sets, to the city. ••

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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