For Immediate Release

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Contact: M. Royce Van Tassell


Taxpayers Association Offers to Work with UTOPIA Cities
in Developing Unbiased Non-Binding Opinion Survey

Draper, Utah – As the six cities who continue to pursue UTOPIA’s “utility fee” model (Midvale, WVC, Layton, Perry, Brigham City and Tremonton) plan a non-binding opinion survey of their residents, the Utah Taxpayers Association is offering to help these cities develop a useful survey instrument.

“Anyone who has worked with surveys knows that the structure and wording of a survey dictates its outcome,” said M. Royce Van Tassell, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association. “As an Association, we want to work with these six cities in identifying accurate and unbiased questions, so that elected officials can trust the results.”

For example, asking citizens whether they would be willing to pay “just a little more so that everyone gets ultra-fast internet” would bias the question in favor of the proposal. By contrast, asking citizens whether they support “higher utility taxes to pay for internet in other cities” might bias the question against the proposal.

City Councils can also fail to get trustworthy results by letting those with strong opinions dominate. Among other things, trusted surveys rely on a random sample. That’s why a properly sampled phone survey better reflects public opinion than a web survey.

Van Tassell concluded, “Following more than a decade of UTOPIA roiling these cities, it’s time for elected officials to really understand what the voting public thinks. By working with these cities to develop a valid methodology and question, the Taxpayers Association will help elected officials find the right path forward.”