Easy come, easy go….it’s only other people’s money
The Maricopa County Community College District governing board met earlier this week and approved yet another property tax increase. The daily reports this is the fourth tax increase in seven years and the second in a row for the 10-college district —- increasing taxes $128.24 yearly per $100,000 in property.
We reported just last month on the governing board increasing tuition by $3 per credit hour, to $84 per credit, noting MCCCD tuition has skyrocketed nearly 60 percent in just 10 years.
This latest 2 percent increase in the tax levy, along with the tuition increase and taxes on new construction in the county, will generate about $21 million in additional revenue for the insatiable colleges.
The vote on the tax increase was 4-1. Only board member Debra Brimhall Pearson voted against the hike, although she voted for the previous increase. Pearson, who served in the state legislature as Debra Brimhall representing Snowflake from 1997 to 2004, said the state Legislature “has been derelict to the community colleges” for decreasing funding over the last several years. State aid went from 10 percent of the district’s revenue a few years ago to about 1 percent now, at $7.4 million for 2014-15.
“But I don’t believe the answer is in property taxes,” she said. Later in the meeting Pearson announced she would not run for re-election to the District 3 seat, saying, “I have a moral objection to property taxes.”
About 60 percent of the district’s revenue is from property taxes, and the community colleges account for about 12 percent of property owners’ annual bill.
After the tax vote, the members voted 5-0 to give a 1 percent pay increase to residential and adjunct faculty and most other employee groups. The board also approved the 2014-15 budget. The $774 million operating budget is about 8 percent higher than this year’s budget. The total budget, including the auxiliary, restricted and capital funds, is $1.7 billion.
Arizona’s Constitutional mandate for the state’s higher education to be as “nearly free as possible” is becoming increasingly quaint. These are the words contained in Article 11 Section 6 of the Constitution of the state of Arizona: Section 6. Admission of students of both sexes to state educational institutions; tuition; common school system.