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You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe

After our press deadline yesterday, the Current got its mits on actual numbers from a poll conducted, we're told, for folks in the rental-car industry who were contemplating a media campaign opposing the visitor-tax extension that will appear on this May's ballot in the guise of four major projects:

• $110 million to remake the Municipal Auditorium into the Bexar County Performing Arts Center, $6 million for the Alameda     Theater renovation, and $4 million for the Briscoe Western Art Museum

• $100 million to update the Freeman Coliseum and stock-show facilities, and upgrade the technology, infrastructure, and meeting facilities at the AT&T Center when it turns 10 in 2012

• $125 million to complete the River Improvements Project, including restoring the river's natural course in the Mission Reach, restoring Wetlands at the Witte in the Park Segment, and connect the downtown River Walk directly to the Mission Reach hike-and-bike trails

• $80 million to build amateur-sports facilities, including 46 soccer fields, 53 softball/baseball diamonds, and a new fencing facility

Voter approval would continue the 1.75% hotel-occupancy tax and the short-term 5% motor-vehicle rental tax, first approved in 1999 to build the AT&T Center, for another 20-30 years, for a total investment of $415 million.

On Monday, the Express-News reported that Enterprise Rent-a-Car, which had reportedly told County Judge Nelson Wolff they were willing to spend up to $1 million to defeat the proposal, had decided to sit out the local election and concentrate its anti-visitor-tax efforts at the national level. The daily speculated that Enterprise's internal polling must have given them a case of the cold, hard pragmatics, but as Queque reported today, we had seen different numbers. For your perusal, here's a core sampling, taken from questions that are not, as Judge Wolff characterized them, very pushy. (Incidentally, Mayor Phil Hardberger, Judge Wolff, and the San Antonio Spurs are all pretty darn popular with the folks who participated in this survey, with the Spurs taking the crown, Hardberger playing runner up, and Wolff following in a strong third place.)

• 95.5% of respondents said tourism is "important," with 76.5% responding "very important."

• 47.8% either strongly favor or somewhat favor extending term limits. 44.5% somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the idea.

• 65% of respondents favor allocating $125 million to river improvements

• 56.8% of respondents favor allocating $110 million to renovate the Municipal Auditorium into a state-of-the-art performing art center

• Respondents were split on the proposal to allocate $80 million to amateur-sports facilities, with 46.2 percent favoring the idea, and 47% opposing it

• Asked how they felt about allocating $75 million to AT&T Center improvements, $15 million for rodeo buildings, and $10 to the Freeman Coliseum, only 37% responded favorably, while 55.2% either somewhat or strongly opposed the idea.

Keep in mind this poll was conducted before any official campaigning by the A.C.T. political-action committee established to lobby in favor of the measure. 

Later questions in the poll these numbers are taken from characterize the AT&T Center as privately owned -- which results in even lower approval ratings for the AT&T improvements. As Wolff told the Current yesterday, tax-extension advocates "get better support when we remind people that we own it."

The County claims to have more favorable numbers. They belong to the Spurs, we've been told, but the Current has asked if we could pretty-please have a copy for comparison.








Posted by Elaine Wolff on 2/20/2008
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