Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
In a poll commissioned by Albuquerque Public Schools, 62% said they would support continuing a mill levy at the previous rate. And 67% of those surveyed said they would support a $100 million general obligation bond.
Those results came from a Research and Polling, Inc. survey of 400 people done in July. The Journal obtained the poll findings through an Inspection of Public Records Act request.
Brian Sanderoff, the president of Research and Polling, Inc., said the group of 400 respondents was a random sample of people who have voted in the past. The survey had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points, he said.
Kizito Wijenje, capital master plan executive director, said the research cost $21,035.
The poll followed APS’ February defeat in which voters struck down – by large margins – the district’s $900 million mill levy and bond package that would have raised taxes.
A few months later, the district decided it would go before voters again later in the year with a smaller ask that didn’t include a tax rate increase.
In the new proposal, which voters will decide on soon, APS is seeking approval for a $290 million mill levy and bond package that would pay for construction projects at schools, turf fields, school equipment expenses and, primarily, maintenance work. APS is seeking to continue a tax or mill levy at the previous rate, which would generate $190 million over six years, and the district is also looking to issue $100 million of bonds over four years.
The July survey asked people if they would support or oppose “a residential property tax of $2.00 for each $1,000 of net taxable value of property for tax years 2019 through 2024.” The question paraphrased language on the ballot.
The results showed 42% strongly supported the mill levy and 20% somewhat supported it. Among opponents, 7% were somewhat opposed and 25% were strongly opposed. The others were undecided or didn’t know.
According to the survey, the top reasons for support were the desire to support schools and “APS needs the money.” The most popular reason for opposition was “poor money management at APS.”
The survey also asked if people would support or oppose the bond question. That had 45% of people’s strong support, with 22% saying they would support the bond question somewhat.
Somewhat opposed were 7%, and 19% were strongly opposed. The remainder were undecided or didn’t know.
Similar to the mill levy, the main reason people expressed support was because “APS needs the money” and “APS needs the money to repair and renovate schools/schools are aging.”
“Poor money management in APS” was the highest-rated reason for opposition, the poll shows.
Support for both questions grew when respondents were told the property tax rate wouldn’t go up.
“They’ve cut back their request to the voters significantly and I think, as a result of that, the general mood I’m sensing is very different than what it was earlier in the year,” Sanderoff said.
The poll also asked participants to evaluate the quality of education in APS. The highest response was a C, with 39% of the vote. APS received an A from 2%, while 18% gave a B, 23% a D and 8% an F, with the others undecided or didn’t know. Respondents also rated APS teachers, with 58% giving them an A or B.
Sanderoff added that a poll like this is a snapshot, representing where voters are at a specific time.
This isn’t the first time APS has turned to a poll to get a read on voters.
Before its February special election that resulted in voters striking down all three ballot measures, a survey from 2018 forecast significant opposition to the proposed tax rate hike.