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Budget polling shows residents want to protect city services

For the past month, the city of Hampton has held extensive public outreach to get input on the budget. Results from in-person polling, a scientific phone survey and online survey were presented to City Council today during the afternoon session.

In general there were very few cuts that the majority of respondents said they could live with, and most respondents supported a property tax rate increase of some kind.

In total 1,608 people gave input on budget issues. Over 1,300 people were polled on possible budget cuts and revenue options via in-person polling sessions and an online survey. Of those, 1,256 took the online survey and 46 polled at four public sessions.

In addition, 306 Hampton residents were surveyed on a property tax rate increase through a scientific phone survey, conducted by Continental Research Associates, Inc. Both landline and cell phone numbers were used, and the survey’s demographics aligned with city demographics.

The majority of respondents polled online and in-person said they could live with cuts to beautification efforts, building permit review/inspection response time, software upgrades and 311 Call Center night and weekend hours.

Less than half of all respondents showed support for most of the other proposed cuts such as decreasing tourism spending, cutting the Woodlands Tennis Center or reducing non-emergency police response time.

The majority of respondents (over 65 percent) said it was acceptable to cut hours at the Hampton History Museum, library branches, community centers and Sandy Bottom Nature Park’s Nature Center. However, most did not want to see the Nature Center, any community centers or library branches close.

The services that received the strongest support included patching potholes, school crossing guards and cleaning ditches.

As for revenue options, a large majority of respondents (over 80 percent) supported a 1-cent property tax rate increase; 66 percent supported 2 cents and 50 percent supported 3 cents. Less than 40 percent supported an increase of 4 cents or more.

These findings differ slightly from the scientific phone survey, which showed more support for a rate increase of 4 cents or more. The majority of respondents (73-77 percent) supported a 1- to 2- cent rate increase; nearly 60 percent supported a 4-cent increase. Thirty-nine percent supported a 6-cent increase, and a little over 22 percent were not in favor of a tax rate increase.

To view the full polling results presentation, click here.