Archive for Budget


Best to keep taxpayers in the dark; No newspaper accounts so far

It is of interest that when Yavapai Community College released its press report explaining what took place at the January 16, 2018 Governing Board meeting there was no mention of Wills’ request for a 4% tax rate hike (or 5% tuition increase).  But for the Blog and the videotape of the meeting, Yavapai residents would be completely in the dark about her  tax rate request. As of this date, there have been no local newspaper accounts of the tax rate request and the Governing Board reaction to it.

You may view the Community College press release about the meeting by clicking here.

You may view the entire Board meeting including the videotape where the Wills’ Administration asked the Governing Board to consider a 4% property tax rate increase by clicking here as soon as it is posted.



Tax hike appears to have more opposition than tuition increase

The video below shows the Community College Governing Board discussing Dr. Clint Ewell’s tentative budget increase suggestions for 2017-18. The discussion took place January 16 during the regular Board meeting on the Prescott Campus.

It appears that at least three members were uneasy with the Administration’s suggestion that it consider approving in February a 5% tuition increase  and in May a 4% property tax increase.  (Representative Connie Harris was seen occasionally nodding, which suggests she may have also been concerned.) 

Chair Ray Sigafoos seemed most concerned with the property tax rate hike.  Representative Deb McCasland pointed out that there was a questionable need for more money to increase deferred maintenance and alluded to the College’s large reserves.  Representative Pat McCarver seemed concerned with both the tuition and tax rate hike. The video is about four minutes in length.


Says College needs $2.7 million more in revenue for 2018-19

The short video below contains Dr. Clint Ewell’s list of needs that the Administration believes justifies its request for a 4% property rate increase and a 5% tuition increase.  The list is “preliminary” although the tuition rate will be set next month at the February Board meeting.


McCasland, Sigafoos & McCarver voice concerns  with Wills’ request;  Harris and Irwin silent

The Wills’ administration, in preliminary talks about the 2018-19 budget at the Governing Board meeting on Tuesday, January 16, sought large increases in revenue flowing to the College. The Administration suggested a four percent increase in the Yavapai County Property Tax rate.  It also suggested a five percent student tuition increase for 2018-19.

The suggested increases did not go down well with at least three members of the Board. Board members Deb McCasland (Verde Valley/West side), Ray Sigafoos (Prescott) and Pat McCarver (Chino Valley) all indicated concern with the either the tax rate or tuition or both.   Sigafoos seemed particularly concerned about the tax rate increase. He suggested the Administration go back to the drawing board and return with a more reasonable proposal.

Third District Verde Valley Representative Connie Harris and Prescott Valley Representative Steve Irwin said nothing.

The proposal by the Wills administration is a preliminary one.   In February the first serious test of the recommendation will come when the Board sets tuition for the 2018-19 academic year.  The tax rate decision will come after that with a final decision in May or June 2018.


 Overall, it appears the College had $10,579,719 more to spend in 2017-18 that it did in 2008-09 and an overall student body taking accredited courses that had shrunk by almost 30%. 

The fiscal year for the College ended June 30, 2017.  This is the detailed information given the Governing Board about its financial and enrollment situation when it ended the fiscal year in June 2017.  It is worth reviewing as we close out the calendar year 2017.

  1. The College estimated in May it will lose an estimated $330,000 in 2017-18 state aid because of the decline in the number of students taking accredited classes. This estimate should change because student enrollment has leveled off.

  2. The aviation program, which has already lost more than a million dollars in tuition and fees over the past two years, will lose another $160,000 in 2017-18 because of the continuing decline in enrollment in that particular program. So far, there is no indication this estimate will change.

  3. County property taxes will not be increased in 2017. 2017 is the second year in a row the Governing Board has not increased the tax rate. Recall that a majority vote of three on this Board can increase the tax rate on the property taxes of Yavapai County voters. (And there is no oversight and no appeal.)

  4. Tuition was increased for 2017-18 by about 5%. This is far above local  inflation. The Governing Board has increased tuition in some form every year over the last decade. The tuition increases have far outpaced inflation every year.

  1. What is called the County “new-construction tax” will bring in about $680,000 in additional revenue to the College in 2017-18.

  2. When comparing student headcount from 2008-09 to 2015-16 (the last formal report from the College) there are 3,894 fewer students taking credit courses (14,139 vs. 10,245). This is a drop of 27.5% in student enrollment. The decline continued in 2016-17.  While the Governing Board received a prediction in May 2017 that enrollment would decline by 4% in 2017-18, it actually increased slightly.

  3. When comparing student tuition and fees 2008-09 to 2017-18 the College will be collecting $4,678,500 more in tuition and fees in 2017-18 than it did almost a decade ago despite the huge drop in student enrollment. ($6,927,300 vs. $11,605,800).

  4. When comparing primary property tax revenue from 2008-09 to 2017-18 the College will be collecting $8,683,119 more in property taxes in 2017-18 that it did in 2008-09 ($35,227,381 vs. $43,910,500). Almost all of the increase is used to support capital expenditures.  Traditionally, the College had to persuade voters to approve a General Obligation Bond before revenue was expended for capital improvements. The Bond was repaid by assessing a County-wide secondary property tax.  The College now uses primary tax revenue, which was once intended primarily for programs and staff salaries, for capital projects.  This keeps County citizens from asking questions about the projects; the process also gives the Administration almost total discretion to build and renovate whatever it desires  without justifying the project to the citizens (and the expenditure of their tax money) or  explaining the overall efficacy of the project to them.

  5. Note that in 2008-09 state aid accounted for $4,761,000 in revenue coming to the College. It is estimated that in 2017-18 the College will receive about $1,979,100 from the state of Arizona in total support. That is a difference of $2,781,900.

  6.  Overall, it appears that College will have $10,579,719 more in revenue to spend in 2017-18  that it did in 2008-09 and a student body taking accredited courses that has shrunk by almost 30% (using headcount) over the past decade.



Total expenditures 148.9% of budget with overrun due to Prescott Valley building expansion and Sedona Center remodel

The Yavapai Community College administration reported to the Governing Board at its August 8, 2017 meeting that it had spent $17,343,277 during the fiscal year 2016 – 17 on capital projects. It had originally budgeted $11,648,400 to spend on buildings and grounds during that period. It attributed the additional $6 million increase in capital spending to the Prescott Valley building expansion and the Sedona Center remodel. 

Because College has so many millions of dollars paid in by taxpayers annually, there was no need for any bonding needed to provide $17 million for these capital projects. As this blog has repeatedly told its readers, the college is flush with revenue. Furthermore, in the opinion of the blog, there is little serious oversight over how these millions are spent each year after basic educational expenses are met.

You may view the College explanation and verify the amount spent on capital projects during the past fiscal year by clicking here and going to page 23 of 154.


Surplus headed to capital fund for buildings; no new educational initiatives or other options for excess revenue discussed

The College ended the 12-month fiscal year on June 30, 2017 with a $2.5 million surplus. When college administrators were asked by representative Deb McCasland how that surplus was to be used, they said it would be applied to future capital projects.

Overall the College explained that “General Fund revenues are projected to be below budget by $208,000 and expenditures are projected to be under budget by $2,736,000. Revenues are lower than budgeted due to lower fall and spring semester enrollments and the gradual reduction of the aviation program. Expenses are less than budgeted due to several factors including unspent contingency funds, vacancy savings, lower non-labor expenditures (i.e. utilities) and the utilization of available Proposition 301 monies (in lieu of General Fund monies).”

The College administrators did not offer the Governing Board any possible alternatives for the use of this excess surplus revenue. For example, to award faculty bonuses or develop additional educational programs. In fact, if representative McCasland had not raised the issue about the surplus, it would have been submerged in the consent agenda with no discussion at all.

You may click here to go to the August 2017 agenda where on page 20 of 154 you will see the surplus.

The Administration’s statement on use of the surplus is below.


Highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting

The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting has been Awarded to Yavapai County Community College District by Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting. Its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

The CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standard s of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive ”spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.



Ten years ago Yavapai Community College loaned the town of Prescott Valley $3.75 million. The loan was intended to help finance construction of a town library and space for a college facility. The idea behind the loan appears to have been to entice Northern Arizona University to create an experimental three-year program  located in Prescott Valley. NAU wasn’t prepared to invest in the project. The Community College would be the landlord of the educational facilities portion of the library—about 12,000 square feet plus a 120 car parking area adjacent the library. (The library consisted of a total of about 55,000 square feet.)

The construction project proceeded and by September 2008 Yavapai Community College said it was offering to lease the Community College facility to NAU. (The property is often referred to as a “condominium.”) NAU leased the facility and classes began in 2010. Documents suggest that Yavapai College would offer lower division programs and curricula leading to associate degrees (and when appropriate, selected certification programs); and Northern Arizona University would provide upper division and graduate programs and curricula leading to baccalaureate and graduate degrees.”  

As a part of the initial agreement, if the relationship fell through at some point in the future the College could demand that the town of Prescott Valley return the $3.75 million plus interest. By 2016 the experiment in terms of joint sharing teaching responsibilities appears to have collapsed. The College administrators decided to end the relationship and ask for their money back. However, negotiations for return of the money did not receive formal Governing Board approval until the May 9, 2017 meeting. 

The College hopes to close the deal with Prescott Valley by June 30, 2017.

Under the agreement executed with the town of Prescott Valley, the College had the option of receiving either the fair market value of the facility or the $3.75 million investment plus interest. Because the market value of the facility was placed at $2 million, the College at the May meeting indicated it would ask return of the original loan of $3.75 million plus interest. The interest is estimated at $600,000.

It should be noted that as a part of the agreement between the University and the Community College there was to be an annual report made to the Governing Board. However, the Blog has not been able find any such report. The Blog also has not been able to identify the amount of money, if any, NAU paid to Yavapai Community College as a part of the lease agreement. Finally, because a portion of the original loan came from the 2000 $69.5 million General Bond issue, the returned money must be used for construction projects.  Dr. Ewell said it could be used for the ongoing Prescott Valley construction or for other projects in the District.

It is anticipated that NAU will construct its own facility or find more space in the not too distant future in Prescott Valley.  Other relationships with the Community College appear to be continuing.

The brief six-minute discussion between Dr. Ewell and the Governing Board about the return of the money can be reviewed in the video below.

County Property Taxes now provide 75% of Community College operating revenue

Data shows that 98% of revenue to support the general operations of the College come from property taxes and tuition

The Blog is often asked about the source of funding for Yavapai  Community College.  The table that follows shows where the revenue for 2017-2018 is coming from in dollars.  About 98 percent of the revenue comes from County property taxes and student tuition.

The following pie chart was presented to the public by the Community College at the recent budget hearing to explain in percentages where the revenue to operate the College came from. The chart omits secondary property taxes, which are used to pay off the 2000 $69.5 million General Obligation  Bond approved by voters in that year.