By Focus Staff

Last week the Knoxville News-Sentinel published the results of a poll, sponsored by local businessman Randy Boyd and other Chamber of Commerce-types, purporting to show 57% of the people of Knox County would support a tax increase if it all went to schools.  Using exactly the same language as the poll reported by the Knoxville News-Sentinel, The Focus surveyed more than 1100 likely voters.  The poll appearing in the Sentinel surveyed approximately 900 registered voters.

Voters were asked the question, “Do you support a property tax rate increase if all the money goes to fund public  education?”

Little data about the Chamber poll has been released, other than the purported results.  As usual, The Focus is releasing all of the data compiled from the Focus survey.

1119 likely Knox County voters responded to the poll with a resounding “No.”  Almost three quarters of respondents, 73.19%, said they would not support a property tax increase even if all the money went to public education.

The response was uniform throughout the City of Knoxville and Knox County.  Almost 67% of respondents in the First District opposed the idea of a tax increase for education.  The Second District was even more solidly opposed to the idea with roughly 74% opposing a tax increase.

The two districts most likely to be supportive of taxes and the school administration – – – the Fourth and Fifth Districts – – – surprisingly are also hostile to a tax increase for education.  The Fourth District, centered around upscale Sequoyah Hills and other affluent West Knoxville communities, was more opposed to the idea than even the Fifth District with more than 65% of residents saying they did not favor a property tax increase for education.  The Fifth District, which is the Town of Farragut and surrounding areas, registered 62.41% of respondents saying they would not support a tax increase for education.

The Seventh District and Eighth Districts overwhelmingly opposed the idea with 80% or more of likely voters saying they oppose a tax increase, even if all the money went to the school system.  The Sixth District (Powell, Karns and other northwest Knox County communities) and the Ninth District (South Knoxville) was not supportive to the notion with more than 77% of likely voters opposing a tax increase.

69.11% of women said they were opposed to a tax increase even if all the money generated went to the schools.  Almost 77% of men said they were opposed to increasing taxes even if the beneficiary was the school system.  In fact, every demographic was opposed to the idea of increasing taxes even if the school system accrued all the money.  The 30-49 age group, the most likely to have children inside the school system was the least opposed to the idea, although more than 68% said they were against a tax increase for education.  People aged 50-65 registered strong opposition to the idea with more than 75% being opposed to a tax increase.  Seniors registered overwhelming opposition as well with approximately 73% opposing a property tax increase to benefit the schools.

The numbers are clearly at odds with the poll released by the Knoxville Chamber and published by the News-Sentinel.  Focus publisher Steve Hunley said, “We have released all our supporting data.  The Sentinel has questioned our poll in the past, but the fact is they have come out in support of a poll that hasn’t released any supporting information to uphold its poll’s final numbers.

“There’s a thirty point difference in their poll and the poll conducted for The Focus.  I am absolutely confident in the numbers in The Focus poll.”

Click here to view the poll’s full results.