Town Should Not Be Allowed To Usurp School District Funds

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by Russ Kinzer
Superintendent of the Payson Unified School District

This commentary is presented as a rebuttal to the Payson Roundup's April 13 editorial on the proposed use of property tax increment financing to fund the Green Valley Redevelopment Project.

This financing method as defined in Arizona Revised Statutes 36-1488.01 allows a town government to take school district taxes for redevelopment projects. Regardless of the benefits of Main Street redevelopment, the Payson Unified School District will be negatively impacted if this funding mechanism is used.

School taxes will increase and will do so over the proposed 20-year span of the project. School property taxes will be higher and have the potential for being dramatically higher. These taxes will be used for a town government development project with none of the revenue used for school projects or needs.

It has been suggested that the school district should be willing to contribute tax dollars to benefit a community project. This type of logic has contributed to Arizona now ranking forty-ninth in the nation in per pupil spending.

Development projects and state and local economies should not be constructed to the detriment of schools. The tax increment finance statute does not provide for a vote or permission from the school board.

Neither the Payson School Board nor the voters of the school district (which encompasses a much larger area than the town limits) will have a voice in this matter. The people in the areas of the school district outside of the town's incorporated limits do not elect the Payson Town Council and therefore will have no representation in this tax. This is truly taxation without representation.

Because of this feature the Second Division Court of Appeals ruled the statute unconstitutional in 1980. The school district has verified this legal decision with three independent sources, including the Arizona Tax Research Association.

This irresponsible and unconstitutional tax method should not be considered as a revenue source for the Green Valley Redevelopment Project.

I encourage the Payson Roundup and school district constituents to support the Payson Unified School District's position on this issue.

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