A Community Conversation About PrioritiesLast November, the Turlock City Council directed staff to conduct community engagement and solicit feedback on how to reduce expenses and increase revenues to address the City's long-term financial stability. Due to increased expenses and flattening revenues, significant service reductions have occurred over the past 10 years - and more significantly in the past year.
Workshops were held in all four council districts to review the City's budget and City services.
In December, the City Council approved public opinion research (polling) of likely voters about Turlock's quality of life and public services, including voter attitudes towards various revenue measures.
Results of Community Survey Conducted by FM3 ResearchAt its meeting on February 25th, 2020, the Turlock City Council was presented with the results of a public opinion survey of Turlock registered voters conducted by FM3 Research, a California-based company that has been conducting public policy-oriented opinion research since 1981. The goal of the survey was to examine public opinion through a scientific survey to assess a number of issues related to the prioritization and satisfaction of certain City services, as well as look at the sentiment as it related to the possibility of sales tax and revenue measures.
The survey consisted of 15 questions and was taken between February 3 and February 9 by 525 Turlock residents likely to vote in November 2020. Interviews were conducted online and by cell phone/landline telephone. The survey was available in English and Spanish.
Findings from the survey indicated that a majority of respondents have positive opinions about the direction of their neighborhood, but fewer are optimistic about the direction of the city overall. Here is a summary of the findings.
General Community Attitudes
- Voters have very favorable opinions of local public safety agencies, but have less favorable views of City government and the City Council.
- Homelessness, road conditions and crime are considered to be the most serious problems.
- More than six-in-ten voters are concerned with how the City's finances are managed.
- Voters believe the population of Turlock has grown substantially in recent years and will continue to grow over the next few years.
Attitudes on a Potential Sales Tax Measure*
- More than seven-in-ten voters believe the City has at least "some" need for additional funding to provide City services.
- Nearly seven-in-ten voters support the potential sales tax measure on the initial reading.
- At least sixty percent of voters in each Council District initially support the measure.
- There is strong support for the measure across racial and ethnic lines.
- Both men and women support the measure, with stronger support from women.
- Democrats and independent voters overwhelmingly support the measure, as do a majority of Republicans.
- Support crosses the age spectrum, with the strongest support from voters under 40.
- Voters who think the City is headed in the right direction are more likely to support the measure, but support is also high among voters who think the City is headed on the wrong track or don't know.
- Ratings of the performance of City government are not a very big factor in opinions of the measure overall.
- There is an extremely strong connection between opinions on the City's need for additional funding and support for the measure.
Ballot Measure Elements
- The top priorities for the measure include maintaining 911 response, addressing homelessness, repairing streets, maintaining public safety and fiscal accountability.
- Keeping public areas safe and clean, maintaining anti-gang/drug programs, increasing cleanup of homeless encampments and preventing fire station closures are also important priorities.
- Maintaining senior services and retaining and attracting local businesses are part of the next tier of priorities.
- Over six-in-ten voters think youth/after-school programs, first responder training for active shooters and improving traffic safety are important.
Testing Variations in Sales Tax Rates
- There was less support for the measure when voters considered it at a rate of 3/4 cent or 1/2 cent, both at the beginning and end of the survey.
*Draft Ballot Measure Tested in the SurveyTURLOCK PUBLIC SAFETY/COMMUNITY SERVICES MEASURE
Shall the measure to maintain police/fire protection, emergency medical response, anti-gang/drug programs; keep parks/public areas safe/clean; address homelessness/vagrancy; repair streets, potholes, sidewalks; retain/attract local businesses; maintain youth/after-school and senior programs, other general services, by establishing a 1¢ sales tax providing approximately $15,000,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring audits, citizens oversight, public disclosure of spending, all funds used locally, be adopted?
DocumentsThe slides from the presentation to the City Council by FM3 Research are available on the link below, along with the survey questions, and an analysis of the survey results. The margin of sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 4.9%. Any questions about the survey or survey results may be directed to Jennifer Land, City Clerk, at (209) 668-5540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video Presentation to the City Council by FM3 Research
Presentation Slides from FM3 Research
Turlock Survey Analysis