Residents Still Oppose Sales Tax Hike but by Smaller Margin


Most Orange County voters oppose a tax increase to help the county recover from bankruptcy, according to a poll taken Sunday. But the majority against raising taxes was smaller than an earlier poll found.

In a telephone survey by NLS Communication of La Habra, 51% of 513 voters queried opposed a proposed half-cent increase in the sales tax. When the company surveyed the same voters in December, 58% opposed raising taxes.

"Voters are softening somewhat on the question of a tax increase," said Michael Nason of NLS. "There's a lot of work to be done by whoever is supporting a tax increase."

According to the poll, a majority are against the tax increase in four out of five supervisorial districts. The exception was Supervisor Marian Bergeson's district, where it is favored by 51% of voters.

Opponents to a sales tax increase totaled 66% in Supervisor William G. Steiner's district, 52% in Gaddi H. Vasquez's district, 45% in Jim Silva's district and 54% in Roger R. Stanton's district.

In a Times poll conducted by Mark Baldassare & Associates in January, support for a tax increase was firm only if money were earmarked for schools.

That poll had 53% of voters favoring a tax hike to maintain schools, but support for a tax hike dropped to 18% if the purpose was to pay off bondholders. Forty-eight percent favored raising taxes to maintain the current level of funding for law enforcement and fire protection.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to decide today whether to put the half-cent sales tax increase on the countywide ballot June 27.

But if voters are softening their opposition to a tax increase, anger at the supervisors remains strong, the NLS poll found.

Fifty-eight percent of voters say they would not reelect their representative on the board. Only 18% said they would reelect their supervisors, and 23% were undecided. Facing the greatest opposition are Stanton and Steiner, whom 64% of voters say they would not reelect.

Fifty-eight percent polled said they would not reelect Bergeson; 56% would not reelect Vasquez and 48% would not reelect Silva.

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