65% of Municipal Chief Execs Say They are Seeking to Increase Fees While Decreasing Services to Make Ends Meet, According to New Reader’s Digest Poll
Failure of Congress to Address Deficit Reduction Turns Up Heat on Mayors
• Embattled Mayors look for help from programs like the Reader’s Digest We Hear You America campaign
NEW YORK, Nov. 22, 2011 — Americans can expect to dig deeper into their pockets in coming months as Mayors actively seek to raise municipal fees for the same or reduced level of municipal services in a desperate effort to find new revenues in a still struggling economy.
Even before the reported failure this weekend of the most recent effort in Congress to address deficit reduction through a special Congressional committee, Mayors already had been feeling the heat from local constituents as they dealt with issues associated with the poor economy: 48% of Mayors said they felt they were sometimes viewed as the bad guys while 12% were frustrated by the lack of appreciation for the tough decisions they had to make. However, the majority of Mayors polled still felt their jobs were worth doing.
A new online survey of 52 Mayors coast-to-coast commissioned for the second year in a row by Reader’s Digest and conducted in November 2011 by Harris Interactive, found the following:
• 90% of Mayors are anxiously seeking new revenue sources other than taxes.
• 65% percent of Mayors are looking at increasing municipal fees for services.
• At the same time they plan to raise fees, 52% of Mayors anticipated that in their next budgets they would be decreasing or cutting services to meet financial targets.
• Municipal services have taken a beating as the poor economy continues. 71% of Mayor’s indicated that they had already cut services in most areas, reducing maintenance at city parks, reducing hours at libraries and recreational facilities, and cutting staff and other services.
The survey findings were released to coincide with the launch of the second year of Reader’s Digest We Hear You America campaign, a popular national, grassroots initiative that serves as a catalyst to empower Americans to help their local communities by casting votes for their hometowns at ReadersDigest.com. We Hear You America provides funds and promotional support for quality-of-life projects for the communities that receive the most votes. More important, the stories of communities that participate are highlighted by Reader’s Digest in its magazine and on its digital and social media channels to bring them to the attention of people across the country.
An interesting finding in the survey was that 50% of Mayors said that in addition to creating jobs, the most help businesses could provide was to promote communities by bringing attention to what is good about them, a hallmark of the We Hear You America program.
Dan Lagani, President, Reader’s Digest North America, said, “The We Hear You America campaign is about giving back to the people and towns that have meant so much to Reader’s Digest over the years. Cities, towns, and villages across our country continue to face economic challenges. Reader’s Digest is bringing back We Hear You America to help these communities get the attention they deserve.”
The survey also found that:
• Asked what they were most proud about their community, the greatest single response from Mayors, 40%, was the involved people.
• 83% of Mayors said they thought their residents were very or somewhat motivated to volunteer in the community.
• 50% said encouraging employees to volunteer was another important thing businesses could do.
• Despite sometimes being put into the position of being the bad guy, 71% of Mayors polled said they loved their job because they loved their communities.
• Consistent with last year’s poll, Mayors said the rough economy had not diminished the optimism of local citizens, who remained hopeful that the future would be brighter.
The Reader’s Digest survey was conducted online from November 9 to 14 by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Reader’s Digest among a national sample of 52 mayors of towns and cities with populations of at least 20,000 residents, sampled from the U.S Conference of Mayors. A full methodology is available upon request.
About The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.
Reader’s Digest Association is a global media and direct marketing company that educates, entertains, and connects more than 140 million consumers around the world with products and services from trusted brands. With offices in 44 countries, the company reaches customers in 79 countries, publishes 86 magazines, including 50 editions of Reader’s Digest, the world’s largest-circulation magazine, operates 82 branded websites, and sells nearly 40 million books, music, and video products across the world each year. Further information about the company can be found at www.rda.com.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.
Media: Gary Davis, 646-293-6206