Friday, February 27, 2015

Poll: Philadelphians do not like AVI, taxes in general

News flash: Philadelphians do not want more taxes.

Poll: Philadelphians do not like AVI, taxes in general

An interior view of the Pew Charitable Trusts´ building in Washington.
An interior view of the Pew Charitable Trusts' building in Washington.

News flash: Philadelphians do not want more taxes. 

That might sound silly, but it actually is news.

According to a poll released today by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphians have done something of an about-face this year over a fundamental question about government: Would you rather have more taxes and more services, or less taxes and less services?

Last year, 49 percent of respondents asked for more taxes and services, while 42 percent favored less taxes and services. This year, 41 percent wanted more government, and 50 percent wanted less.

Larry Eichel, director of Pew's Philadelphia Program, said that result probably has something to do with anger over the School District's funding crisis. The tax questions were asked in the same late-summer survey that resulted in recent Pew reports highlighting anger over the state of public education, the performance of city officials and the direction of the city in general. 

"This sort of sour mood about the city and certainly about city government - we think, certainly one cause is the school situation," Eichel said.

Next year, it will be interesting to see whether all this pessimism is an outlier due to the schools fiasco or a new normal for the city. 

Additionally, about half of those surveyed are unaware of the Actual Value Initiative, Mayor Nutter's property-tax reform effort, and most of those who are aware think it makes the tax system less fair than the status quo. 

Only 52 percent of the 1,605 residents surveyed said they had heard of AVI, in which the city reassessed every property in an attempt to correct a widely criticized system of real estate taxes. The low level of awareness is surprising because the issue has been debated intensely for two years and continues to receive attention. 

Of those who knew about AVI, only 26 percent said it was making the tax system more fair, and 44 percent said it was making it less fair. 

The study also asked residents whether they favor lowering Philly's unusually high wage tax burden, which advocates say is a key to unlocking business growth here. Sure, they said. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they would like to see that happen.

But what about replacing that revenue with an increased property-tax burden? Hell no. Fifty-nine percent said they don't want property taxes raised for that purpose.

About this blog
William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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