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Telephone survey earlier this month asking about a possible bond measure in May gets lukewarm response from voters

COURTESY CITY OF TUALATIN - A telephone survey of 251 residents shows that support for a May parks improvement bond is not high and likely would not succeed.(This story reflects the correct property tax rate amount regarding a surey regarding a proposed parks bond measure.)

A Tualatin parks improvement bond would not likely succeed if presented to voters this May, a telephone survey has found.

During a work session Monday, representatives from Campbell DeLong Resources, Inc. told the Tualatin City Council that the firm recently conducted a telephone survey of 251 registered voters, between Jan. 2 and Jan. 16, to test the waters for a parks improvement bond.

At one point during the conversation, survey-takers were asked if they would vote for a $30 million, 20-year bond that would result in a property tax rate of 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to improve the city's parks, playing fields, community trails and river access.

While an initial response of 53% of those surveyed stated "yes" to the measure, consultants said those affirmative answers don't reflect "actual yes" votes, which are almost always lower. Meanwhile, 36% of those surveyed said they would vote "no" on the measure, which they were told would add $100 to their property tax bills for a home assessed at $250,000.

"And that is actually high, from our experience," Martha DeLong of Campbell DeLong Resources, Inc. told the council.

DeLong also said it was unusual for so many voters to say "no" to a bond with cost being the primary reason.

"I don't think we've ever seen cost be the No. 1 criteria," she said.

Additionally, 29% of those taking the survey were characterized as "fence-sitters," or voters who might support a bond but aren't firmly committed to a "yes" vote.

"They can change their minds, and some will change their minds," said DeLong.

Still, John Campbell of Campbell DeLong Resources said going with the proposal now "is not the right approach." He said it would be difficult to pass the measure and that older voters, those who are generally more likely to vote in support of such issues, proved to be less supportive as well, according to survey results.

Some takeaways:

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  • Of those who visited a park at least every couple of weeks in a year, 65% initially indicated a "yes" vote compared to those who used a park 42% of the time or fewer visits.

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  • A total of 12 statements about a potential bond were made during the survey, ranging from the fact that the bond would provide equipment and facility improvements to parks throughout the city to money collected being used to replace aging infrastructure such as restrooms and pedestrian bridges.

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  • 62% of the telephone interviews were conducted on survey-takers' cellphones, instead of landlines only.

    Councilor Paul Morrison suggested the council needs to hold a work session to determine what the community wants in terms of such park amenities as trails, ballparks and restrooms, pointing to the vast difference between the city's transportation safety bond, which voters approved in May 2018, and the projected results of the proposed parks bond.

    He emphasized the transportation bond was very focused in its message, compared to the survey for a possible parks improvement bond.

    "No wonder no one supports this — it's all over the board," Morrison said.

    While Councilor Nancy Grimes suggested the survey answers could have been affected by such factors as the fact upcoming elections or thinking about pending tax bills, DeLong said she doesn't believe polling numbers would improve between now and November.

    Councilor María Reyes said her discussions with residents showed support for a parks fee in lieu of a bond.

    "They want to support it, but they don't want it on their property taxes," she said.

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