That’s the only conclusion I can reach after reading the Chamber of Commerce poll released this week.
To me, the killer is the third question in the poll. It’s a standard polling question: Do you think the Wake County schools are generally going in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?
By 43-37, voters say wrong track.
That, my friends in the school system, is a dagger in the heart. Less than 4 in 10 of the people who would vote on the bonds say the schools are going in the right direction.
And you’re going to ask them to approve a bond issue of more than $1 billion? And raise their property taxes? To give more money to schools that they think are going the wrong way now?
Here is the voters’ answer, according to a poll:
• Less than 44 percent said they would vote for a $1.37 billion bond issue, the cheapest package on the poll.
• By 45-37, they would vote against a $1.97 billion bond issue.
And the problem is that – in referendums like this – the “for” votes rarely go up. Always down.
The vote goes down in the poll when people learn there is a property tax increase attached:
• By 47-40, they’re less likely to vote for bonds with a $72 a year increase in taxes;
• By 51-30, they’re less likely to vote for when there is a $111 a year tax increase.
Here is what the Chamber said in its news release about the poll:
“We are confident that with current information on community opinion plus continued good communications between the two boards, a winnable bond package will result that maintains our world class school system and responds to citizen concerns.”
“Current information on community opinion plus good communication between the two boards” isn’t going to cut it. That’s a formula for defeat.
The Chamber and the schools had better start listening to those “citizen concerns” before they start selling bonds.
On today’s market, the bonds are dead.