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New Poll Says Philadelphians Concerned About Tax Hikes Yet Eager For Services

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Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With the possibility of more tax hikes in Philadelphia looming (see related story), a new survey finds a growing number of residents concerned about the city’s tax burden.

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  A few hours after the initial publication of this story, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter told KYW Newsradio that the mayor’s budget being proposed next week would contain no new taxes, including no soda tax. See related story)

The survey by the research arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts finds that 70 percent of Philadelphians rate the tax burden as a serious concern, a percentage that is significantly higher than in Pew polls done in the past two years (55 percent in 2010; 62 percent in 2011).

But poll director Larry Eichel says nearly half the respondents are also concerned about preserving city services that are paid for by taxes.

“It’s close to split, but slightly in favor of the idea of being willing to pay more to get more,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

Eichel doesn’t see those findings — a desire to lower taxes and yet preserve services — as contradictory.  One reason may be the desire for new revenue streams.  In fact, the poll finds that a majority Philadelphians support advertising on city buildings, an idea that’s being explored by City Council.

The survey also finds what Eichel calls “deeply entrenched” feelings about a tax on soda, an idea that Mayor Nutter twice proposed and City Council twice rejected (see related stories).  The survey show a fairly even split among respondents: 49 percent of those questioned opposed to the tax, 46 percent were in favor of it.

But Eichel says the passions on this issue run high:

“Over two thirds of the people who favor a tax on sugary drinks favor it strongly.  And over two thirds of the people who oppose the tax say they oppose it strongly.”

Mayor Nutter presents his new budget to City Council next week, and many will be watching to see whether he revives the soda tax proposal for a third straight year.

The telephone survey was conducted of 1,600 Philadelphia residents in January.

Read the full Pew Research study

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