*Correction: An earlier version of this story reported results from "a majority of residents." The sampling was only of registered voters.
COSTA MESA — A majority of registered voters are concerned about city spending and believe that some services should be outsourced to the private sector, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn.
The poll's results, which were released this week by the nonpartisan but conservative-leaning residents' group, came weeks after the results of a separate poll paid for by the Orange County Employees Assn. (OCEA), which reported that residents opposed a cost-saving plan to lay off 213 city workers.
According to the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn. (CMTA) poll results, about 68% of respondents said yes when asked, "Do you believe the city should look at all of its options to solve the budget crisis, including outsourcing some of its services to the private sector?" Thirty-two percent replied no.
CMTA called OCEA's survey a "push poll," meaning those asking the questions were trying to influence the outcome, and criticized the number of households surveyed in that poll. Union members made the same allegations Wednesday about the quality and reliability of the Taxpayers Assn. survey.
The CMTA poll was conducted between April 11-14 by Fountain Valley-based Polling Strategies and surveyed 854 households. It was said to have a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.
The poll done for OCEA surveyed 400 households, according to a CMTA news release.
OCEA's poll, conducted by San Francisco-based Tulchin Research, was "real" and "scientific," said Nick Berardino, the association's general manager.
He pointed to the CMTA as the push poll of the two and criticized the methods employed by Polling Strategies. He also questioned the experience of the local pollster when compared with Tulchin, which does polls for Democratic candidates, labor and environmental organizations.
"I stand behind the numbers, and I'll let them show me their polling numbers that show them differently," Tulchin's company president, Ben Tulchin, told the Daily Pilot earlier this month.
CMTA also stood by its results.
"When we saw another organization come out and slander the mayor, we thought it was wrong," CMTA co-founder Ethan Temianka said. "It's distracting from the facts. This is not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue. This is about being open and honest about the numbers."
The main goal of the CMTA poll was to get factual information out to residents and be fully transparent about how the information was gathered by disclosing the exact verbiage of the questions released, he said.
The audio transcript of the questions is also available, said Temianka, who challenged OCEA to make the verbiage of its poll public.
"I'm hoping that the people who cannot make it out to all meetings because they have busy lives or hectic schedules, who feel a certain way or that they are a minority, that they will now see that there are a lot of people out there who also feel the same way," Temianka said. "They're not alone and a lot of people are fed up that tax dollars are being spent in an erroneous manner."
CMTA poll results reported that 86% of those polled found it "unacceptable" that the city pays 85 employees more than $200,000 a year in annual compensation, 83% found it "unacceptable" that the city uses 80% of its budget for employee salaries and benefits, and 68% agreed that the city should look at outsourcing some services to the private sector.
Other poll questions asked if residents agreed with OCEA ads attacking Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan, to which 25% agreed and 36% disagreed.
And of those surveyed, 38% identified as Republicans, 24% as Democrats, and 38% as "other."