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Update: Tax surveys tallied with results pending

A large box of tax surveys were sorted, counted and tallied Oct. 12 at the Harbor View Apartments in Grand Marais.

Garry Gamble, a former Cook County commissioner and current newspaper columnist, was instrumental in putting together the tax survey that was recently sent to some Cook County property taxpayers. The results of the survey will be made public in the coming weeks.

The surveys were tallied by five Cook County residents, including Gamble, Joyce Heiskari, Carol and Nick Burger and Tom Bradovich.

In recent weeks there have been mixed reviews from local residents regarding the tax survey. During public meetings of the Cook County Board of Commissioners a number of local residents questioned the reasoning and objectivity of the tax surveys. Letters to the editor appeared in the local newspaper raising similar concerns about the survey. In addition, social media pages of local residents were decorated with colorful language questioning the surveys.

The survey arrived with a letter signed by Cook County News-Herald Publisher Hal Kettunen. That letter discusses various tax scenarios Cook County is proposing for 2018 and beyond, as well as the 11.2 percent levy the county implemented last December. The survey also questioned the job performance of County Administrator Jeff Cadwell.

Staff from the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence also played a role in assembling the local tax survey.

Mark Haveman is the executive director of the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence. In a statement sent to WTIP about the survey, Haveman said: “Garry contacted us to take a look at a draft survey tool they had developed and provide whatever feedback we felt was appropriate and helpful. We aren’t survey design specialists so we in turn passed it along to a public affairs firm who is a member of ours for their reactions, input and recommendations.”

WTIP was on site while a portion of the surveys were tallied Oct. 12 and will share whatever information is made public from the survey.

Following the initial survey tabulation on Oct. 12, the group Citizens for An Affordable Cook County sent the following statement to WTIP:

“We received an outstanding 40 percent response rate - meaning 40 percent of the surveys that were mailed were returned.
Final numbers will be more refined once all surveys have been opened and tabulated.
We are extremely pleased with the response and the thought and time individuals invested in expressing their views related to local county government. We believe the high response rate reflects people's genuine desire to have their voices heard.
Given the large sample size, in relation to the total population of the target audience, and the uniquely high response rate, we are very confident our results will reflect the overall demographics of Cook County property owners.
This confidence is based on survey industry standards.”