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Which city services would you cut?

Assembly panel finalizes questions on budget deficit survey

Posted: January 4, 2012 - 1:07am

Would Juneau taxpayers rather raise taxes or sacrifice services to keep the city’s deficit down? An planned phone survey of City and Borough of Juneau residents will ask this question and more to give guidence to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly.

The Assembly Subcommittee on the Budget Survey finalized and approved nealy 20 questions at a meeting on Tuesday.

The Assembly will use the results as a guide when making future budget decisions.

Bob Koenitzer, Senior Project Manager of the McDowell Group said the Assembly chose McDowell to provide fast, statistically correct information.

“Whenever there is a budget shortfall it is important to the assembly member to have input from the public,” Koenitzer said. “So trying to find out if people support raising taxes, or abhor it, as opposed to making cuts in services. And that gives [the Assembly] some pretty strong guidance,” Koenitzer said.

The survey will poll 400 people.

“More than an adequate sample to be able to get overall opinions,” Koenitzer said.

The Assembly chose to contract with the McDowell Group to do the survey on Dec 19. The McDowell Group can complete a by-phone survey by Feb. for $10,000, the same price quoted by the League of Women Voters, according to CBJ minutes.

Questions could read like “In order to meet the projected budget shortfall are you generally more supportive of reducing CBJ services or increasing taxes or user fees.”

McDowell’s pollsters will ask responders to list their two most liked city departments and their two least liked.

And then more specifically, “if you had to reduce the CBJ budget specifically what two services or programs would you reduce first?”

“People will come up with their particular gripe, but I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. It’s what’s important to them,” Koenitzer said.

The Assembly is also looking for responders’ preference to increase city income through increased user fees, increased year-round sales tax, increased seasonal sales tax or increased property tax. McDowell will ask for least and most preferred.

“We like to ask these things in a couple different ways to get the most usable information,” Koenitzer said.

Chip Thoma President of Responsible Cruising in Alaska asked the sub-committee to add a question about whether Juneau should share its cruise passenger head tax with private dock owners or reserve the estimated $12 million per year for CBJ waterfront and tourism impact projects.

The sub-committee chose not to include Thoma’s question.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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