Modesto service, tax survey to be explained

kcarlson@modbee.comJune 3, 2013 

    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken

— The results of a city-commissioned phone survey on customer satisfaction and a potential sales tax increase in Modesto remained under wraps Monday.

No information was presented at the City Council's agenda review meeting, which serves as a sort of rehearsal for regular council meetings. The Lew Edwards Group of Oakland is scheduled to present results of the community survey at the City Council meeting this evening.

Modesto hired the government affairs consulting firm for a cost not to exceed $35,500 to develop and conduct the survey. Council members met in pairs with a consultant Monday to get a briefing on the results.

"We will get more data, but this is more of a first touch," Mayor Garrad Marsh said.

City officials are considering ways to increase revenue, including a half-cent sales tax for public safety or 1 cent tax for general operations such as parks maintenance, road repairs, and police and fire service.

The city would need voter approval to increase the sales tax rate in Modesto. The City Council still has time to put a measure on the November ballot.

One person who was surveyed said there were questions to gauge the level of support for a sales tax increase. Marsh has said the city needs a short-term revenue source while it works on economic development incentives to expand Modesto's tax base.

City Manager Greg Nyhoff said Monday that the survey was not only about a potential sales tax hike and public safety.

The city is doing strategic planning and wants to know residents' satisfaction level with city services and whether efforts such as airline service to Los Angeles is a priority, Nyhoff said.

The city manager said a summary of the results and other materials should be available at the 5:30 p.m. council meeting.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321.

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