With the Fort Wayne Council schedule to spend an entire evening discussing its tax abatement policy this month, Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, has sought some public input on the issue.
On his campaign website, mitchharper.com, he posts a link to a five question survey asking residents to discuss what issues are important to them. Most of them are fairly straight-forward, such as asking what is the most important issue the council can tackle: street maintenance, economic development, public safety, budgetary restraint or other.
One question, however, seems worded in a way that could sway people to choose one side over another. He asks, "Which of the following is of higher priority?" The options are "Equal tax rates for all taxpayers" or "Specialized tax breaks for certain businesses." It seems unlikely many people would choose special tax breaks over equality.
Harper on Tuesday called himself the most conservative member in regards to issuing tax abatements, so maybe the question isn't all that surprising. Of course, being an online survey by nature means it isn't scientific, but it should be interesting to see the results and how they are used.
Update: Harper on Thursday called to say the four multiple choice questions were intended to get people prepared to answer an open ended question asking for bold ideas for the ciy. He said the survey isn't related to the upcoming tax abatement discussion, and he tried to make the questions as neutral as possible. He added he is well aware that such a survey won't reveal any scientific results, but he hopes it will provide some good ideas.