AATA Survey: Slim Majority Supports Tax

At its Feb. 16, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board received an overview presentation of the results from a survey of Washtenaw County registered voters about their attitudes towards paying additional taxes to support transportation countywide.

On a key question about survey respondents’ inclination to support a 1 mill property tax, asked towards the beginning of the survey, 54% answered that they would definitely or probably support such a tax. [On  a similar question asked on a similar survey in 2009, 51% of respondents across Washtenaw County answered that they would definitely or probably support a 1 mill additional property tax to support transportation. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value.]

Asked a similar question towards the conclusion of the recent survey, 59% answered that they would definitely or probably support such a tax.

The survey results come in the context of the AATA’s effort to expand its governance structure and its service area to include a wider geographic region than just the city of Ann Arbor – that is, most of Washtenaw County. That possible transition is currently being debated by the Ann Arbor city council, in the context of a four-party agreement – between the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County and the AATA. A financial advisory group, co-chaired by Albert Berriz, CEO of McKinley Inc., and Bob Guenzel, retired Washtenaw County administrator, is expected to meet on Feb. 29 to produce its recommendations. The Ann Arbor city council is expected to take up the issue again at its March 5 meeting, having postponed the issue three times.

The 1,356-person sample for the survey was drawn from registered voters in Washtenaw County, with interviews conducted by telephone or online. For each of four separate geographic regions, more than 300 interviews were administered: in Ann Arbor, the Ypsilanti area, eastern Washtenaw, and western Washtenaw. The populations of each of those areas is different; however, survey results were weighted accordingly.

The survey research was done by CJI Research Corp. under a three-year contract that the AATA board authorized at its Aug. 24, 2011 meeting. The contract has two additional one-year options. The draft fiscal year 2012 budget for AATA included $75,000 for an on-board survey of riders and a telephone survey of Washtenaw County voters.

CJI was the firm that conducted the AATA’s on-board and telephone surveys in 2009. For a review of the results from the 2009 survey, see Chronicle coverage of the Jan. 20, 2010 board meeting.

[.pdf of survey text] [.pdf of survey solicitation letter] [.pdf of survey reminder postcard] Added after initial publication: [.pdf of presentation to the board]

This brief was filed from the fourth-floor boardroom of the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Ave, where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]