Friday, July 20, 2007

Response to Civitas

Over at Red Clay Citizen, Civitas takes some shots at our polling methodology and some recent polls we have conducted for clients. I’m not going to get into a pissing match calling their polls biased and our polls unbiased. But I will respond to a few specific points they made.

I left in the "press 1 on your keypad" part of the quote to let readers know that Public Policy Polling has no way to verify if their respondents are 5-year-olds, 15-year-olds, much less who they claim they are. But I digress...

Apparently, our respondents have grown from 12-year-olds to now 15-year-olds. I’ve discussed that point here and here. This seems to be the standard complaint from people who don’t like our results. It’s a form of “attack the messenger, instead of the message.”

The most egregious bias in this is that it frames the question in such a way as to suggest any county has EVER ONCE suggested that transfer taxes would be an alternative to property taxes.

That, in fact, is the case in many fast growing counties in North Carolina. In Wake County, for example, school construction needs in the next decade are estimated to cost at least $4.5 billion. That’s just for school construction, which has nothing to do with new teachers and classroom needs, nor does it account for roads, parks or any other infrastructure costs.

Wake County cannot pay for those billions of dollars without raising revenue. Right now, the only option is property taxes, because the state government doesn’t give the county the authority to use the transfer tax, sales tax, or impact fees.

Revenues are going to have to be raised, if not transfer taxes (which is the only other option on the table right now), then it will have to be property tax increases.

The other misleading aspect of this is that it repeats "one-time". But the fact is: you will pay the tax every time you sell your home.

How many times can you sell your home? Only once. Then it’s not yours anymore. You pay property taxes every year.

Here's a comparable question from June's Civitas Poll:

"A transfer tax is a tax assessed against the seller of a home or property at the time of the sale. Do you support a 1 percent transfer tax on homeowners selling their home to help local government pay for the costs associated with growth?"

That’s not the issue before the legislature. The legislature is debating whether to give counties the authority to have a referendum in order to establish a transfer tax. Voters in each county that decides it wants to have a referendum are free to vote no. Right now the legislature won’t let citizens even put it to a vote.

If Wake County decides to have a transfer tax referendum, I'm sure PPP will poll on it. Our polls on elections and referenda have been extremely accurate and fair.

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