Lowman S. Henry
Chairman

Robert W. Keibler
Vice Chairman

Jane R. Gordon
Secretary/Treasurer

Board Members

Jerry Bowyer
Allegheny Institute

James Canova
Canova Electric

LeGree S. Daniels
U.S. Postal Governor

Joseph Geiger
PA Assoc. of Non
Profit Organizations

Hilary Holste
PPG Industries

Charles L. Huston, III
Huston Foundation

Doris O'Donnell
Allegheny Foundation

Albert Paschall
King of Prussia
Chamber of Commerce

James Trammell
Sun Company, Inc.

__________

Survey Consultant
Albert E. Sindlinger
Sindlinger & Company

Focus Group Moderator
Charles L. Kennedy
Penn State University
__________

FOR RELEASE
THURSDAY  October 12,  2000
FOR MORE INFORMATION
CONTACT: LOWMAN HENRY

LHENRY@LINCOLNINSTITUTE.ORG


Lincoln Institute Poll: Allegheny County Voters continue to oppose sports stadiums and downtown retail center

Highway and Maglev projects get strong support from Voters

     {Pittsburgh, Pa., -- 12, October 2000}  A new Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research poll of voters in Allegheny County found little support for sports stadiums and a proposed plan to develop a retail market place at Fifth and Forbes in Pittsburgh while the same voters heavily favor new highway and transit projects.
     Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy’s downtown redevelopment plan was opposed 49% of the respondents to the Lincoln Institute Poll.  Only 21% voiced support for the plan, while 28% offered no opinion.  Voters in the 18 – 21 bracket were the only demographic group with a majority in favor with 54% of these voters expressing support. Only 15% of those age 60 and over expressed support for the new retail center.
     Among voters in the City of Pittsburgh, 33% said they support the Fifth and Forbes development while 47% were opposed.  Most troubling for the Mayor, 53% of democrats say they oppose the development.  When told that the marketplace development would be built with $150 million in tax subsidy support for Mayor Murphy’s project dropped to just 13% of the voters questioned for the survey.
     Eminent Domain, the forceful taking of private property by government for construction of the new market place was a key issues in opposition to the project.  77% of Allegheny County voters surveyed were against Eminent Domain being used for the project.  Only 8% of those polled indicated support for the practice.  Opposition to the use of Eminent Domain power was particularly strong among Democrats – 81% opposed its use for the Fifth and Forbes project.

Stadiums still don’t score with voters


    
Despite the fact that they are being built Allegheny County voters continued to strongly oppose new stadiums for the Steelers and the Pirates.  The Lincoln Pulse Poll found that 78% of voters continued opposition to the pro sports teams’ projects.  That number is virtually identical to the percentage of voters who expressed disapproval of the stadium construction in past polls and who actually voted against a proposed 1% sales tax to help pay for the new ball parks.


     Opposition to the construction of the stadiums is highest among registered Democrats – 79%, although 75% of Republicans are against the projects.  81% of county voters living outside of Pittsburgh say they still think it was inappropriate to use tax dollars to fund construction of the stadiums while 67% of city voters think the funding structure was wrong.

Highway projects – Maglev – gets green lights

     Construction of the much debated Mon-Fayette Expressway linking downtown Pittsburgh with I-66 in West Virginia received a strong vote of support from participants in the Lincoln Institute Pulse Poll.  59% of voters say the expressway should be built while only 21% oppose the highway.  Among demographic groups male voters in particular want the highway constructed, 64% gave the green light to the proposed roadway, as did 81% of voters in the 18 – 29 category.
     The Southern Beltway is a companion to the Mon-Fayette Expressway.  The Southern Beltway would run through part of southern Allegheny County and Washington County to complete a beltway of highways around the city of Pittsburgh.  66% of Allegheny County voters say the Southern Beltway should be constructed just 18% oppose the project.
     Both the Mon-Fayette Expressway and the Southern Beltway are being constructed as toll roads by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the tolls don’t seem to bother the majority of voters.  55% indicated they had no problem with the road fares while 37% oppose paying a toll to use the roads.
     Another transportation project catching the fancy of Allegheny County voters is the proposed magnetic levitation or Maglev train that would connect Greater Pittsburgh International Airport with downtown and then extend east to Greensburg in Westmoreland County.  55% of Allegheny County voters support construction of the Maglev while 35% indicated the train is not a good idea.  68% of voters in the City of Pittsburgh support the project.  72% of younger voters in the 18 – 29 age group support.


County Executive gets strong marks – Pittsburgh Mayor falters


     While 39% of Allegheny County voters say its too early to tell whether County government is more efficient under the new Executive/Council implemented by the adoption of a Home Rule Charter, the county’s first Executive Jim Roddey was given a 53% positive job approval rating by voters surveyed in the Lincoln Institute Pulse Poll.  The new county executive’s positive approval numbers were driven strongly by Republican voters with 63% of them giving Roddey a positive rating compared to 48% of Democrats who approved of his performance in office.
     In contrast to Roddey, Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy received relatively high negative ratings in the poll.  Among all voters countywide Murphy received a 43% positive job performance rating with 40% holding a negative opinion of the Mayor while 16% had no opinion.  In Pittsburgh 45% said the Mayor was doing a good job, 40% had a negative view of his performance with Democrats almost evenly split at 42% positive and 41% negative in their view of the mayor’s performance in office.

Local governments – Independence rates well

    
64% of Allegheny County voters said their municipality is on the right track and doing a good job while only 27% indicated that local leaders were seriously off on the wrong track.  Suburban voters led residents of the city of Pittsburgh by 20 points in their approval rating of local governments.  69% of suburbanites said their local government was on the right track while only 49% of Pittsburgh voters shared that view of city government.
     65% of Allegheny County voters prefer their local governments remain independent with only 27% indicating support for reducing government through local mergers.  When asked if the municipality that they reside in should merge with a neighboring municipality 72% said that local government should remain independent only 21% supported a municipal merger.  17% cited state government as the most efficient, 13% chose the Federal government and only 8% said that county government is the model of efficiency.

 RAD District should be repealed – property taxes unfair 

            Allegheny County voters continue to feel that property taxes imposed by local and county governments and school districts are unfair.  57% of voters countywide said their property taxes are not fair and equitable while 25% thought that the current system was equitable.  Anti-property tax sentiment is particularly strong in Allegheny County outside the city of Pittsburgh.  60% of voters in those areas of the county say the property tax system is unfair.
     37% of voters would prefer a combination of earned income and sales taxes over property taxes while 25% said that sales taxes alone should make up for lost revenue and only 17% said that they preferred that an earned income tax be enacted.
     There is strong opposition, particularly outside of the city of Pittsburgh to the Regional Assets District (RAD) tax.  Overall 58% of voters think the RAD tax should be repealed only 29% support retention of the tax.  In Pittsburgh 47% of voters would support repeal of the tax compared to 61% of voters outside the city who would vote for its repeal.  Opposition is particularly strong among registered Republicans, 61% of whom would vote to repeal the RAD tax.

     One issue affecting the level of taxation required to run government, “a living wage” or super minimum wage of $10.62 per hour to Allegheny County employees received a strong negative reaction from voters countywide.  68% said that they would not support a living wage, compared to 20% who are in favor of the concept.  Opposition to the living wage was strongest outside the city as 70% of voters in the suburbs voiced opposition to the wage.

Methodology


     Precision Marketing, Inc. of Easton Pennsylvania on September 27, 2000 conducted the Lincoln Institute Pulse Poll of voters in Allegheny County.  A total of 335 registered voters were surveyed during the poll, which has a margin of +/-4% at a 95% confidence level.  Complete numeric results can be found on-line at www.lincolninstitute.org.


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