You may get a phone call in the next few days asking you to name your poison -- or, depending on your point of view, your medicine: land-transfer tax or sales tax? Orange County is considering those two options -- specifically, a .04 percent land-transfer tax (paid by the seller when real estate changes hands), or a 1/4-cent sales tax increase on non-food items -- as means of generating additional revenue.The state last year granted county governments the authority to implement one or the other of the measures, if voters approve. The Orange County commissioners intend to put one option, or both, on the ballot on the May 6 referendum. To help them figure out whether to put Option A, Option B or both on the ballot, the board has contracted with a company called Hertzog Research to do a telephone survey of some 400 Orange County voters to determine the level of support for the two options. The price tag for the phone survey is $10,000, and it's a hurry-up job; the commissioners approved the survey contract just this past Tuesday, and they need the results by Feb. 19. Because of the time crunch, the survey firm said it can't be certain of meeting its target of 400 completed interviews; "If the deadline makes this impossible, we shall obtain as close to 400 interviews as is possible," the company's proposal says.It's a little difficult to understand why this all had to be done at the last minute. The General Assembly approved the revenue measures in July, and the commissioners began discussing their options in August. They decided not to rush the issue onto the November 2007 ballot, and last September they declared their intention to put it on the May '08 one. With that much lead time, why the 11th hour crunch? The commissioners were in the position of having to vote on the survey contract on short notice -- Alice Gordon and Mike Nelson voted against it in part because they said they hadn't had enough time to evaluate it -- and the company faces such a race against time that it can't guarantee its sample size. One other point of process: The county didn't issue a request for bids on the survey project, but instead chose Hertzog based on a recommendation by Durham County. Subsequently, at least one other local polling firm said if bids had been solicited it could have offered one for thousands of dollars less.Now, it may be that soliciting competing bids still would have yielded Hertzog as the best bang for the taxpayers' buck. Nobody knows -- which is precisely the point.A request for proposals may not be required for a contract for this sort of professional service, but it's still a good idea.