Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TCC Survey on growth in Raleigh-Cary

The Triangle Community Coalition has released a poll of Raleigh and Cary municipal election voters. You can read about it here and get the results here (PDF). After reading through it the strongest message that comes through is that Raleigh and Cary voters are happy. The positively rate the quality of life and the state of the local economy; they think their cities are generally headed in the right direction; and they strongly approve of the work being done by their respective city councils.

Here is the question that I was happy to see: Cary = Red, Raleigh = Blue

I think this chart sums up really well how Raleigh and Cary feel about growth. But I am not sure how this plays out in the upcoming Raleigh City Council elections, because I think all of the candidates fit into the “encourage growth, but manage it more carefully” category. The issues are really which controls to use. For example, some favor impact fees as a way to manage the costs of growth, while others do not.

(I don’t know enough about the Cary elections to comment intelligently. If someone would like to write a guest post about Cary elections and the implications of polling data, I would be happy to post it here.)

I will take issue with the following question. Which of the following would you say is the biggest benefit that comes from housing growth in your area?

20% A larger base of taxpayers to share the tax burden
17% Lots of jobs and a strong economy
16% Better choices of housing and places to live
16% More diversity of people and cultures
7% Better schools and more education opportunities
6% More shopping and access to conveniences
3% Recreational and entertainment opportunities
6% No benefits from growth (volunteered)
5% Other

The TCC spins the result of this question to suggest that voters see low taxes as a benefit of growth, but I don’t think that’s true. People like lower taxes, so when the pollster provides the choice of “lower taxes” as an answer to this question, it’s not surprising that many people chose it.

Besides, I don’t think that answer itself, a larger tax base, is true either. Sure the tax base is larger, but overall there are more taxes needed to be collected. The more people who move here, the higher taxes are going to be for everyone, so that we can catch up on the infrastructure needs likes schools, roads, water and sewer, and parks. Raleigh is relative low-tax compared to other similarly sized urban areas, and especially compared to other fast growing urban areas.

I’d have liked to see the opposite question asked too. What is the biggest downfall from housing growth?

The survey was conducted by Fallon Research and Communications between July 22 and 24. The survey consisted of 407 registered voters in Raleigh and Cary who have a history of voting in municipal elections.

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