A majority of Burbank residents might support a sales tax if a ballot measure were put before them in an upcoming election, according to a recent poll.
Richard Bernard, a partner with the research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, told City Council members during a recent meeting that a general-purpose sales tax measure "appears to be viable" if it were to be placed on the November 2018 ballot.
From Nov. 28 through Dec. 3, the firm polled 2,635 random registered Burbank voters who are likely to vote in the upcoming general election either online or by telephone and asked several questions regarding their views on the city and whether they would support a sales tax.
Bernard prefaced his remarks by saying there is about a 3% margin of error in the data collected and that the percentages do not always total 100% due to rounding.
The research firm worked with city staff to draft a theoretical ballot question, which asked those polled if they would support a 0.75% sales tax that would generate about $21 million annually until ended by voters to maintain and improve services the city of Burbank provides its residents.
The ballot question also mentioned that the measure would be subject to audits and have citizen oversight during its duration, Bernard said.
Without giving any other background information, 37% of those polled said they would definitely support the measure, 21% said they would probably support it and 5% said they were undecided but would lean toward voting for it.
On the other hand, 22% of the sample group said they would definitely not support a sales tax, 9% were probably not going to vote in favor of it and 2% said they were undecided but would probably end up not supporting the tax.
In addition, 4% of those polled were undecided about the ballot measure.
Bernard said that adding up the percentage of definite and probable "yes" votes results in 58% of the sample group voting for a sales tax, which he said was important if the city wants to get the 50% plus-one vote required to pass a ballot measure.
The research firm also asked the polling group if they would support a sales tax initiative if there was a sunset clause tied to it.
Bernard said 46% of those polled said they would either definitely or probably support the measure if it lasted for 10 years. However, that percentage dropped to 40% if the sales tax ended in 15 years.
There was also a large gap among the sampling group when asked if the measure maintains city services or improves city services.
The results showed that 82% said that it was either extremely or very important to maintain city services. However, only 65% said it was extremely or very important to improve those services.
Bernard said the research firm then gave the residents they polled information about several key areas, which included Burbank's infrastructure, the quality of life in the city, the measure's accountability, property values, police officer reductions and the city's structural budget deficit.
After receiving that information, 64% of the sample group said they would either definitely or probably support a sales tax, which was up about 9 percentage points compared to when residents were initially polled.
City Council members have been thinking about proposing a sales tax as a way to address the large budget deficit the city faces.