Losing a Tax Election is a humiliating and costly event for a public entity. Yet, in today’s environment this is a common occurrence. The question for a leader is how do you manage election risk and increase your chances of success.
Six Ways to Manage Election Risks…
1. Base your election decision on actual data not guesswork.
Know what your community wants from your institution and is willing to pay for. The only way to gather data is to use reliable research—surveys and focus groups. Elections are expensive and investing in research will increase your opportunity of a win and decrease damage to your reputation from a loss.
2. Explain in your communications that your were good stewards of previously paid taxes.
If you can demonstrate that you used these funds wisely, you are more likely to get another public investment.
3. Clearly state the specifics of what the funds will support.
Using vague terms like “operations,” “salaries,” “upgrades,” “new technology,” and “new facilities” will increase your risk of failure.
4. Simplify the message.
Citizens want to know “what’s in it for me” if I vote for these taxes. Tell them in simple terms and clearly state what is in it for them.
5. Garner unanimous board member support.
The first person citizens will ask about the election is a board member. If a board member (or members) publicly states opposition to the election, the risk of a loss increases dramatically.
6. Use professional advice from companies who have a track record of winning public entity elections.
If you were going to court you would hire a lawyer who specialized in the specifics of your case. If you are going to the public for millions of dollars, hire people who win elections for a living. They have a system that works. Not all political consultants have experience in these elections. Like attorneys, consultants are specialized.
TCI has a 16 year track record of success in issue campaigns and public entity tax elections. The first step is educating the board on what it takes to win an election. If each board member understands the process and how to minimize election risks they are more likely to support an election. Experienced consultants can take the pressure from the CEO by answering tough board member questions.