Release: March 16, 2001
for the Study of Local Issues
Arundel Community College
Public Expresses Uncertainty About Anne Arundel Taxes
Are taxes in Anne Arundel County higher or lower than in neighboring counties such as Baltimore or Howard? According to a survey conducted March 12-15 by the Center for the Study of Local Issues (CSLI) at Anne Arundel Community College, many citizens are uncertain. While government officials are quick to insist that Anne Arundel’s property taxes are the lowest of any large, similar jurisdiction, slightly more residents (27%) thought property taxes were higher than the percentage who thought such taxes were lower (23%). About an equal number thought that taxes were the same (26%) or were unsure (25%).
Residents were unlikely to say that the cap on property tax revenue had hurt the ability of the County to provide services to its citizens, as only 29 percent perceived difficulties rendering services, while 52 percent did not.
Several other issues were reviewed by the CSLI. The most important problem facing residents continues to be growth and transportation (25%), followed by education (19%) and crime (15%).
Traffic congestion was perceived as “very serious” problem by a majority (57%), followed closely by growth (50%). By contrast, crime was only perceived as “very serious” by ten percent.
Those sampled said the county was heading in the right direction (62%) by more than a two-to-one margin over those saying the “wrong” direction (23%).
Residents were optimistic about the local economy, with 75 percent saying it was excellent or good.
The sample was asked about the “most important issue for young people,” and most responded by saying education (34%), drugs (19%), or jobs (12%).
Several questions were posed about state programs and budget, including the M.S.P.A.P testing program for public schools, as well as preferences regarding how any state budget surplus might be spent.
A series of questions delved into citizens’ feelings about diversity was also asked.
Several questions about radio listening preferences were posed.
Internet use including type of connection were queried as well.
CSLI has asked a similar question about the County’s revenue cap for several years. Since the spring of 1996, the percentage saying that the cap has hurt the ability of the County to provide services has varied between a high of 43 percent to a low of 24 percent. Table 1 below provides the exact breakdown by survey.
Table 1: Percentage Agreeing that Revenue Cap has Hurt Ability of County to Provide Services: Spring 1996 to Spring 2001
CSLI director Dan Nataf remarked, “Residents do not perceive their property taxes as lower than in neighboring counties despite differences in rates. They also do not generally perceive the County as having difficulties providing services. These facts, combined with the finding that a significant percentage (36%) think that the cost of living is higher in this County than in neighboring ones, suggests that support for the revenue cap will not be eroded soon.”
Perceptions of Problems – Growth, Transportation
Respondents were asked to say whether certain problems were very serious, somewhat serious or not very serious. Of the list presented, three (growth and development, traffic congestion, and crime) were clearly local in scope, while the others were not.
Table 2: Percentage saying that a Problem was Serious, Somewhat Serious, or Not Very Serious.
Traffic congestion was clearly the most serious problem highlighted by the sample, as 57 percent indicated it to be a very serious problem. The high values obtained for this issue along with growth (50%) confirm the general trend shown in the responses to the open-ended question “what is the most important problem facing the residents of Anne Arundel County at the present time.” Table 3 shows how the top four issues (crime, growth/transportation, education and taxes) have fared over the last few years.
Table 3: “Most Important Problem facing Residents” Fall 1995 to Spring 2001
The survey discovered that most
respondents (51%) favored “the building of new roads or the improvement of
existing ones” over new mass transit projects (34%) in order to solve
transportation congestion issues.
However, respondents were strongly inclined to favor (60%) a “smart growth” style initiative that would “locate more homes and jobs near light rail and commuter rail stations to encourage the greater use of transit.
Problems Facing Youth
The spring 2001 survey asked an open-ended question “The most important issue facing young people toady is…” Table 4 shows the results of asking this question. Clearly issues relating to obtaining a good education, avoiding drug and alcohol use, and finding a job to cope with the growing cost of living were the most prominent.
Table 4: Percentages Citing a Problem for Youth
Maryland State Issues
The survey repeated versions of questions asked earlier this year by the Maryland Poll. The first dealt with the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program and asked whether respondents thought it had improved education, or were insufficiently informed to offer an opinion. Despite the significant press attention to this issue over the years, 46 percent could not venture a conclusion. Over one-third (39%) felt the program was not improving education, compared to only 15 percent who felt that it was leading to improved public schools.
Ways in which the projected state budget surplus might be used was also based on a version of the Maryland Poll. The CSLI version differed in that it asked respondents to rank three proposed uses of the surplus rather than simply agree or disagree with a proposal. As table 5 indicates, a large majority (63%) gave first preference to spending the surplus “to improve things like education, transportation or access to health care.”
Table 5: Percentages citing an item as Number One Priority for State Budget Surplus
Director Nataf suggested that “citizens might be inclined to allow the state to keep the surplus, assuming that it was used for a high priority area of spending.” When asked about their “most important spending priority,” 46 percent said education, compared to 16 percent for health care. Over one-quarter (28%) were unsure.
The survey asked residents to agree or disagree with a set of questions about social diversity. Nataf stated that “by and large, residents were prepared to live and work with others who are different in race and cultural background.” However, he also pointed out that “despite such a willingness, many individuals still confine their social interactions to people who share their social characteristics. Indeed, more people limit their interactions to others of a similar social class (45%) than a similar race/ethnicity (41%) or religion (20%).” (See attached questionnaire for details)
Radio Listening Preferences
The survey inquired about the sample’s radio listing habits. Specifically, respondents were asked what radio station, if any, they listen to the most during a typical week, and how many minutes a day they tuned into the station. Table 6 ranks the stations by the percentage citing it. While the top ten most cited stations were mostly FM, two AM news or talk stations, WBAL (1090) and WTOP (1500) were second and third most cited respectively.
Table 6: Percentage citing a Radio Station
The most typical number of minutes individuals spent listening to the preferred station was sixty (one hour), cited by 34 percent. About 29 percent listened less, while 37 percent listened more.
A second battery of questions focused on some local stations coupled with three others. Annapolis based stations varied quite a bit. This variance can be best shown by collapsing the original three categories asking how frequently a listener tuned in (“very frequently,” “somewhat frequently,” and “rarely”) together. The results are found on table 7.
Table 7: Frequency with which Listeners Tuned into a Radio Station
Nataf said “the Annapolis stations generally have weaker signals than the three more powerful stations, which limits their range and potential audience Still, among the three, WRNR fared best, while WYRE had a very small listening audience.”
Internet and Cable Access
The County’s two major cable providers, Comcast Communications Corp. and Millenium Corp have been extending their digital cable services throughout the last year. Thirty percent of the sample claimed to already have adopted digital cable service. When the 73 percent who said they had an Internet account at their home were asked whether they had also adopted cable modem service, thirteen percent said that they had. Only four percent used DSL (digital subscriber lines), while 75 percent still relied upon a standard dial-up connection. Nataf remarked “while DSL has been available longer in Anne Arundel County than cable modem services, it is likely that technical limitations have reduced its practical availability.”
The percentage saying they had a home Internet account continued its steady increase, moving from 70 percent last October (2000) to 73 percent in March.
The survey polled a random sample of 385 county residents who were at least 18 years old. The statistical margin of error for the overall sample is five percent. Households were chosen from a database of households with listed telephone numbers in Anne Arundel County.
For information about this survey or CSLI, call Dan Nataf at 410-541-2733, or visit the CSLI web site at www.aacc.cc.md.us/csli where this press release is posted under “surveys.”
CSLI SPRING 2001 QUESTIONNAIRE
What do you think is the most important problem facing the residents of
Anne Arundel County at the present time?
2.0 Overall, would
you say that the County is headed in the right direction or in the wrong
(1) Right direction 62%
(2) Wrong direction 23%
(0) Unsure or don’t know 15%
people believe that the County’s ability to provide certain services has
declined due to the County’s cap on revenue from property taxes. Others think
it hasn’t affected services.
Do you think
the revenue cap has hurt the ability of the County to provide services to its
3.0 Next I am going to ask you to compare tax rates for
the property tax and the local income tax in Anne Arundel county to other
counties in our region such as Baltimore or Howard Counties.
4.0 Thinking about our County's economy, how would you rate economic conditions in Anne Arundel County today -- excellent, good, only fair, or poor
(1) Excellent 10%
(2) Good 65% (3)
Only Fair 23%
(4) Poor 1%
6.0 I am going to read you a list of
issues. For each, please tell me
whether you consider it to be a serious problem, a somewhat serious problem or
not much of a problem.
7.0 To solve the transportation congestion issues that affect you the most, is it more important to fund new mass transit projects or build new roads and improve existing ones?
Are you in favor of locating more
homes and jobs near light rail and commuter rail stations to encourage greater
use of transit?
(1) In favor 60%
(2) Against 28%
(0) Don’t know, unsure 11%
9.0 The most important issue for young people today is (see table 4 in press release).
Do you think the state of Maryland’s standardized testing program, called
M.S.P.A.P., or “MISS – pap,” is leading to better quality education for
the state’s public school students, or do you not know enough about it to
offer an opinion?
(1) Yes, better quality education 15%
(2) NO, not improving education quality 39%
(0) Don’t know enough to offer opinion, unsure 46%
You may have heard that the State of Maryland is expecting a large budget
surplus this year.
I will read
you three general ways in which the budget surplus might be used.
Please rank these in terms of your preference, with your most preferred
use being number one, second most preferred use number two and so on.
What radio station, if any, do you listen to the most during a typical
13.1 Station name:___see text_____________ 13.2 Station frequency: see text_________
13.3 IF ANY CITED:
About how many minutes a day do you listen to this station?
frequently do you listen any of the following radio stations – very
frequently, somewhat frequently, rarely, never.
14.7 Do you
subscribe to digital cable service?
30% (2) No
68% (0) Don’t
14.8 Do you listen to music channels offered by your digital cable service?
(1) Yes 17% (2) No 76% (0) Don’t Know 7%
The next few
questions concern Internet use
15.0 Do you currently have an Internet account that you use from your home?
(1) Yes ß (2) No (0) No answer (Go to demographics)
are almost done. The last few
questions will help us to better understand your responses.
With which political party are you affiliated?
(1) Democratic 35% (4) None 13%
(2) Republican 36% (5) Other 0%
(3) Independent 11% (0) No Answer 5%
16.1 For whom did you vote for President in the general election last
(1) George W. Bush 46%
(2) Al Gore 28%
(3) Ralph Nader 1%
(4) Pat Buchanan 0%
(5) Someone else 1%
(6) Won’t say, didn’t vote 18%
(0) Don’t know 6%
17. Which of the following best describes your political beliefs: Liberal, Moderate or Conservative?
ß (2) Moderate (go to 18) 49%
(3) Conservative =========ß 27%
ß (0) Other, No Answer 5%
17.1 If Liberal or Conservative: Is there an issue or two that makes you think of yourself as Liberal/Conservative?________________________________________
18.0 I am going to read some categories of age classifications. Please stop me when I reach the category in which your age falls.
(1) 18 to 29 13%
(2) 30 to 44 34%
(3) 45 to 59 30%
(4) 60 or more 24%
(0) No Answer
I am going to read some categories relating to education.
Please stop me when I reach the category in which the highest level of
your formal education falls.
(1) less than a high school degree 3%
(2) a high school degree 18%
(3) some college or a two-year degree 38%
(4) completed college with a bachelor’s degree 22%
(5) post graduate work 19%
(0) No Answer 0%
I am going to read some categories relating to income.
Please stop me when I reach the category in
(1) Less than $30,000 12%
to $50,000 23%
to $75,000 20%
(0) No Answer 13%
Regarding race, how would you describe yourself?
(5) Other racial background 2%
22.0 Regarding Religion, how would you describe yourself?
(1) Agnostic or Atheist 4%
(2) Protestant 45%
(3) Catholic 35%
(4) Jewish 2%
(5) Other (specify: ________7%______________________________________)
(0) No answer
23.0 What is your current marital status?
(1) Single 20% (2) Married 63% (3) Separated 1% (4) Divorced 7%
(5) Widowed 8% (6) Other 0% (0) Won't say 1%
24.0 How long have you lived in Anne Arundel County: _________ years (21 years, median)
Is your household part of any community association?
(1) Yes 57% (2) No 41% (0) Don't know, unsure 2%
How many children living at home currently attend public or private
Hang-up, then note:
27.0 Gender of
respondent to whom you were speaking: