Survey shows Glendale residents are pleased with city

As city officials try to test the waters about where voters stand on additional taxes, a recent survey revealed that residents are generally pleased with how the city is operating and are not prepared to take on any new taxation measures.

Results from the survey, conducted by Los Angeles-based consulting firm Cerrell Associates, were released to the City Council on Tuesday. City officials hired the firm in December to gauge residents' sentiments about possible new taxes.

The survey included phone interviews with 501 randomly selected residents.

Following a presentation on the results, City Manager Scott Ochoa said Glendale needs to continue to live within its means.

"The wheels aren't coming off," Ochoa said. "However, we're cut to the bare minimum so there's little we can do. Two-thirds of the general fund goes toward public safety."

A special election will be held in June to see who will replace Councilman Frank Quintero, who was appointed to a 14-month term in April when then Councilman Rafi Manoukian was elected city treasurer.

The idea of a new tax idea on the June ballot was floated because city officials said additional revenues are needed or Glendale could face a budget deficit by fiscal year 2016-17, according to a statement included in the survey.

Ochoa said during the meeting that the city currently has a balanced budget, but if it doesn't address some of its "structural issues that we could begin to lose our footing as a leader among cities."

City officials decided it would be wise to evaluate voters' feelings about new taxes after the city failed to gain support in an election last April for three ballot measures which would have changed how the city accounts for an annual multimillion transfer from Glendale Water & Power, hires a city treasurer and issues bonds.

The three proposed tax measures included in the survey were a parcel tax for libraries, parks and community services, a monthly $4 assessment to support city ambulance services and an increase in the transit occupancy tax from 10% to 12%.

Overall, the survey showed that eight in 10 residents rank Glendale as "excellent" or "good" and two-thirds said city government is doing an excellent job, according to Brandon Stephenson, vice president of Cerrell Associates.

"They do not see an immediate need to generate new revenue and they do not support any of the options," he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Stephenson said that the parcel tax was surveyed at three dollar amounts. The highest amount was supported by 45% of the respondents, while 45% were opposed. Support grew to 53% for the lowest amount, while 39% were against it.

The EMS assessment received support from 50% of the respondents and 42% would not vote for it, while the hotel tax was supported by 60% of respondents and 29% opposed it.

Stephenson said that even though these proposals received a simple majority, they did not garner two-thirds, which would be required to pass a special tax earmarked for a specific use.

However, the majority of residents said they understood that the city needs additional revenues. The survey showed that 54% of residents surveyed think Glendale needs to create new revenue streams, but only 19% said it was a "great need."

Meanwhile, 31% of those surveyed said the city does need more funding.


MATT SANDERSON is a freelance writer.


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