Large majority doesn’t like how much in local taxes they pay

Seven out of 10 Philadelphia residents are concerned about the overall tax burden, but many would not mind paying more for increased services, according to a poll released yesterday.

The study from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative reveals that 70 percent of city residents call high taxes a “somewhat serious” or “very serious” problem in their neighborhoods, up from 62 percent last year and 55 percent in 2010. Fifty-four percent say they pay too much for the level of service they receive, while 39 percent claim they get their “money’s worth” or a “good deal” for their tax dollars.

At the same time, 49 percent of respondents said they would prefer more government services and higher taxes, with 42 percent opting for lower taxes and fewer services.

“It’s a mixed message, and it suggests if you can persuade people they’re actually going to get more they might be willing to pay more,” said Larry Eichel, PRI project director, “but that’s a high bar to prove that you’re going to be able to provide more.”

For the past two years, City Council has approved an increase in property taxes; much of which has gone to provide additional funding for the financially-strapped School District of Philadelphia.

The survey also polled residents’ feelings about two proposed ideas to generate more local revenue. A sugary-drinks tax, which Council has rejected for the past two years, is pretty evenly split, with 46 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed. Regarding a plan to allow commercial advertising on municipal property, 56 percent said they support it, while 34 percent are against it.

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