Archive for Taxes

ARE ANNUAL TUITION INCREASES AT YAVAPAI COMMUNITY COLLEGE CONSTITUTIONAL?

Does Attorney General Brnovich’s lawsuit against Arizona Board of Regents for not adhering to a State constitutional requirement that tuition for residents attending state universities be “nearly as free as possible” raise legal issues for Yavapai?

On September 8 Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a complaint against the Arizona Board of Regents claiming board members have “dramatically and unconstitutionally’’ increased the cost of going to one of the state’s three universities.  He argued that Arizona’s Constitution, article XI, § 6 was violated.  It states that “The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.”

Does the fact that student tuition at Yavapai Community College is specifically used to pay off revenue bonds that were sold to renovate the student residence halls violate that Amendment?  After all, the Governing Board could have asked voters to approve a General Obligation Bond to pay for renovation rather than put the debt on the shoulders of student tuition.

Does the fact that over the past ten years the Governing Board has increased tuition in some form at a rate far above inflation while spending an estimated $100 million on capital projects, using money paid from primary taxes for those projects, rather than applying those funds to keep tuition low, violate the State Constitution? After all, the Governing Board could have sought voter approval via General Obligation Bonds to pay for those expensive projects.

Does the fact that tier 2 courses cost double what they cost ten years ago or that in some alleged “market based courses” students pay over $500 per credit hour violate the Constitutional provision to keep tuition as “nearly free as possible”?

Maybe this lawsuit will bring about some answers to those questions.  Maybe the Yavapai Community College District Governing Board might even discuss this issue—but probably not.  The Blog assumes the Board with Deb McCasland most likely dissenting will push through another tuition increase in excess of inflation in February or March 2018 while continuing to spend millions on capital projects using primary tax money rather than ask voters to approve General Obligation Bonds for the projects.  After all, given its history, does anyone really believe there will be a serious attempt by the Yavapai Community College Governing Board to keep tuition as “nearly free as possible?”  

Yavapai Community College District taxpayers pay highest primary property tax levy in Arizona

Most taxpayers in Arizona pay between $4,500 to $6,000 in taxes per FTSE; Yavapai taxpayers pay $11,091

The Yavapai Community College District is flush with money from taxpayers.  That was confirmed in an analysis released in the September report by the Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA).  In the special state-wide report on Community Colleges, ATRA  provided a detailed comparative analysis of how much each Community College District is paying in total taxes per FTSE.  FTSE is defined as the total semester credit hours divided by 12, which is considered to be a full-time course load.Taxes 7

According to the September ATRA report, “on average, the taxpayer effort per FTSE is just under $6,000” in Arizona.  However, “the highest is Navajo CCD at $11,421 with Yavapai close behind at $11,091.”

The report also states that the Yavapai District’s “primary property tax levy per FTSE ranks highest in the state at $10,667, nearly double the statewide average.”

So Sedona and Verde Valley taxpayers, you now understand how the College can frantically spend millions of dollars on construction without seeking voter approval; it has a lot of money to spend.

You may read the entire report by clicking here.

Wills apologizes for leaving Sedona out of property tax increase promotion speech

Says she was unable to get to Sedona before June 2015 recommendation to increase property taxes was approved by Governing Board

Yavapai Community College President Penelope Wills appeared before the Sedona City Council October 27 to answer questions about the future of the Sedona Center.  She began her presentation by apologizing for leaving Sedona out of her travels around the County promoting the tax increase prior to its adoption in June by the College Governing Board.  She had met with Cottonwood, Prescott Valley and other municipal governments promoting the  reasons she wanted to increase property taxes but not Sedona.Whoops 

The only explanation offered by Wills at the Tuesday evening meeting for leaving Sedona out of her tax increase speeches was that she was “unable to get to Sedona.”  Nothing more.   Although the tax increase was approved in June, she went on to say that she was now giving the Sedona Council the speech she had given (apparently explaining why she wanted property taxes increased)  “so you don’t feel left out.”  The brief Wills’ statement apologizing to the Mayor and Council can be found by clicking here.

Sedona Taxing District forks out $7 million annually to support College

Sedona Facility Receives little in return for its huge tax investment

Using 2012 data, the City of Sedona reports (9/25/2015) that the Sedona Taxing District annually forks out over $7 million dollars to Yavapai College.  Of that amount, $6,589,567 is paid through primary taxes and $754,622 goes to pay off General Obligation bonds.

Taxes 6With total primary tax-based revenue in 2012 flowing to the College from Yavapai County property taxpayers of $43,701,144.00,  this means the Sedona Taxing District alone contributed at least 15 percent of the revenue toward operating the College.

In the past two years the College has threatened to close and sell the Sedona Campus and shut down the well respected film program.  Because of a wave of outrage at the potential closing, the District Governing Board backed off selling the property by settling a dispute with an adjacent landowner that had festered for a decade.  However, the administration followed through on its threat to shut down the Sedona Film School.  In fact, the College administration stripped the Sedona Center of all but one or two College credit courses taught by adjuncts. After two years, it  has done little to return Yavapai College credit courses to the facility. 

There are Osher Lifelong Learning courses offered by the independent nonprofit Osher Foundation.  The Foundation is not a part of the College, rather it is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that pays Sedona Osher employees from a $2 million fund it set up for them.  The College provides in-kind support by allowing Osher to use its facility.

The full story carried in the Redrock News online can be read by clicking here.

Al Filardo fights for Verde Valley

Third District Yavapai College Board member fails with logic and common sense to stop the three Board members from the West side of Mingus from increasing property taxes

Al Filardo 2Third District Community College Al Filardo presented compelling reasons in opposition to a 2% increase in the County property tax at the June 9 District Governing Board meeting. Unfortunately, the three members on the West (Prescott) side of the Mountain rejected his carefully thought out position. Among the reasons Filardo opposed an increased property tax were the following:

• Inflation remains flat.
• Enrollment at the Community College is down.
• The economy has not fully returned from the recession.
• The Community College is sitting on huge cash reserves.
• There is no plan—before you spend public money you should have a strategic plan that supports the spending.
• Without a strategic plan, there is no basis for increasing revenue.
• The College ten-year-plan is not in any way shape or form a strategic plan.
• There should be no rush to increase taxes—a one year delay will allow the College to unroll its strategic plan and match spending to planning.

Mr. Filardo’s effort to persuade the five member Governing Board may be viewed by clicking here.

 

Prescott Dominated Governing Board thumbs its nose at most important Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee Recommendations

Requests to not increase taxes and delay capital construction until a strategic plan is in place rejected

At the District Governing Board’s May 19, 2015 meeting, four recommendations came from the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee. The seven member committee consists of outstanding residents with educational backgrounds and interests from Sedona, the Verde Valley and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. The recommendations were clear. 

1. Delay approval of the capital improvement portion of the 2015-2016 budget until the District Governing Board has the recommendations of the Verde Valley strategic plan currently being developed.
2. Increase the marketing and recruitment efforts in the Verde Valley by implementing a program of continuous and direct interaction with students and their parents to seek students’ wants and aptitudes.
3. Amend the Campus Master Plan to remove all language about divesting of the Sedona Campus.
4. Do not raise property taxes this year.

McCarver 1
“BOSS” Pat McCarver, Governing Board Chair

Recommendations 1 and 4 were the most important. At the Governing Board meeting on Tuesday, the three members from the Prescott/Prescott Valley areas on the 5 member Board voted to raise taxes and approved the capital budget. The two representatives representing Sedona and the Verde Valley voted in favor of the Committee’s recommendations.

Most of the hard work of the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee with these votes has turned out to  be in vain when it comes to the most important recommendations it made to the Governing Board. As Governing Board Chair Pat McCarver has expressed clearly to the Committee, we are the “BOSS.” That means the trio making up a majority of members from the West side of the County are in control of matters—not anyone from Sedona or the Verde Valley.

Lake Montezuma Property Owners Association opposed tax

Letter from Lake Montezuma Property Owners Associations sets out reasons for opposing property tax increase

“Dear Governing Board Members:

“The Board of the Lake Montezuma Property Owners Association would like to express our concern and opposition to the proposed property tax increase.  The large portion of the Montezuma-Rimrock area property taxes (currently 15%) which are collected to support the College District coupled with the lack of services provided from the district to our area has been and continues to be a source of discontent for residents.”

Ignored“We participate with and support the recommendations of  the Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee created by the Yavapai College District Governing Board.  We thank you for this avenue of communication and request that you accept the committee’s recommendations.”

“Thank you for this opportunity to comment.”

“Respectfully,

“Janet Aniol

“Lake Montezuma POA Board

“Jim Bowser, Ron Melcher, Phil Edwards, Janet Aniol, Lisa Taylor, Sharon Olsen, Alan Spacone

“PO Box 5292

“Lake Montezuma, AZ 86342”

The letter was ignored by the three-member Prescott/Prescott Valley majority on the Governing Board

 

Prescott dominated Governing Board again rips off Sedona and the Verde Valley

West County Representatives’ rubber stamp College President Penelope Wills demand to increase property taxes at Special Taxation session on Tuesday

For almost 50 years, the Verde Valley has stood in the shadow of the Prescott Community College Governing Board’s political power. This has allowed the Board, under a little known Arizona statute, to funnel money into projects and programs on the West side of Yavapai County while sending back to the East side of the County just enough financial crumbs to keep residents and a few weak-spined local politicians like the mayors of Clarkdale and Cottonwood from raising serious questions about how it is being spent.

riip offDuring the past five decades, the success of the Prescott fundraising scheme has been phenomenal. Sedona and Verde Valley taxes have been used to build two campuses, dormitories, athletic fields, a professional tennis court, a basketball arena, indoor swimming complex, and a huge dinner theatre seating over 1,000. All on the West side of the County!

These projects, and many more, have depended on draining (some now say “stealing”) from 30 to 40 percent of every property tax dollar coming from Sedona and the Verde Valley and keeping it in Prescott. It has also depended on consistently raising property taxes and student tuition on a regular basis (6 of the last 10 years property taxes have been raised) (tuition raised in some form every year over last decade).

The outcome on Tuesday was no different. There are five persons on the Governing Board but only two represent Sedona and the Verde Valley. Those two Representatives made solid, rational arguments in opposition to the 2% property tax increase but lost 3-2. A formal Verde Valley Board Advisory Committee had also asked the Board not to impose a tax increase. It was ignored by the West side trio.

Prior to Tuesday’s taxation meeting, the Blog believed that Chair Pat McCarver and former Chair Ray Sigafoos were in the back pocket of College President Penelope Wills—their history is to rubber stamp anything Penelope or any administration dreamed up. The only question was how new Prescott Valley Board member Steve Irwin would vote. However, he did not disappoint Wills. It was his vote that gave Prescott the needed majority to keep more money flowing into the Administration’s pockets.

If you go back over the last ten years, you will discover that the Prescott majority on the Governing Board has rubber stamped every tax increase and every tuition increase asked for by the administrators. Why not? They have used it to build a superb college over there—not a community college. Meanwhile, they have left the East side of the County to wither on the vine.

Will it ever change?

16 reasons not to raise your property taxes on June 9

List of reasons why District Governing Board should reject increasing property tax rate at its June 9 meeting in Prescott

•1. There have been no public forums where the need for the tax rate increase has been thoroughly discussed, justified or questioned.
•2. Most County residents, especially those on the West side or the County, are totally unaware of the unchecked power of the Board to raise taxes today.
•3. County residents are not allowed to express their view by voting on the tax increase, which by necessity would inform them of what is going on.
•4. The College just increased basic student tuition by 4% on the erroneous premise that state aid would be reduced.
•5. College cash flow is the highest in its history.NO NEW TAXES
•6. The College is sitting on $20 million dollars in reserve accounts that it has no plans for spending.
•7. Arizona increased rather than decreased its state aid to Yavapai Community College this year.
•8. The actual headcount of students taking courses from the College (on-line, face-to-face, in high school, anywhere) has plunged from 16,312 in 2007 to 11,518 in 2014.
•9. Since 2012 the College has eliminated 46 full-time positions, which reduces the cost of operations.
•10. Since 2011, budgeted scholarship assistance has been reduced by over $1 million dollars.
•11. The College is using millions of dollars of primary taxpayer property taxes to support a $118 million dollar capital program rather than seek voter approval for General Obligation bonds, which are repaid through a secondary tax. The College is using this method to hide from County residents what it is doing.
•12. The result of using primary taxpayer money for capital projects is that primary tax revenue that almost everyone in the County thinks is going to scholarships, educational programs, and staff salaries is being poured into bricks and motor without their approval.
•13. The focus by the College on the $118 million dollar capital plan is being carried out at a time when about 37% of all classes are online and demand continues to grow.
•14. The College wastes taxpayer money on projects such as the $1.3 million dollar professional tennis complex is just built when it doesn’t even have a tennis team.
•15. The College has increased the primary tax rate in 5 of the last 9 years.
•16. The College has increased student tuition in some form ten consecutive years.

The Yavapai Community College District Governing Board will consider whether to increase your property tax rate by 2% at a public hearing to be held on the Prescott Campus June 9 at 11 a.m.  in the  Community Room, Building 19, Room 147, 1100 E. Sheldon Street, Prescott, AZ.  If you can take time off from work to attend and speak your mind, you will have 3 minutes to give the Board your view about the increase.

 

Former Superintendent says no tax increase

Retired school superintendent wants taxes paid for Community College in Verde Valley to remain there

Retired  Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District superintendent, Mrs. Julie Larson, expressed the views of most residents in the Verde Valley in an editorial in the May 27 Verde Independent. She stated she opposed the 2% property tax increase that will be voted on June 9 by the Yavapai College District Governing Board and wanted property taxes paid by Valley residents to remain in the Valley.

Julie Larson 5Larson wrote:  “Sadly, the direction Yavapai College has taken in recent years has caused me to agree with a growing number of our community members that it is now time to take control over how our property taxes are utilized.”

She continued:  “Yavapai College is not held to the same financial restrictions that our local schools experience. The governing board of the college can simply vote to increase property taxes rather going to the voters for approval. Against the recommendation of the Verde Valley Advisory Committee, it now appears that the college board will follow administration’s recommendation to increase the property taxes by 2 percent. This is the sixth time in the last 10 years that property taxes for the community college have been increased. It also comes on the heels of a 4-percent tuition hike approved in February.”

Mrs. Larson’s complete editorial in the Verde Independent can be found by clicking here.