It is disheartening at best to hear so much inaccurate information circulating in our community about Proposition 400.
It is a myth that Proposition 400 will cause property taxes in our county to increase. In fact, Gila County taxpayers have the best opportunity, through Proposition 400, to ensure that does not happen. Proposition 400 will require establishment of an elected, accountable governing board of the proposed community college district. All decisions about our college district will be made in Gila County. In the past, an advisory board merely provided input to Graham County Community College District. Over the past ten years, the secondary property tax gradually increased 50 percent under that arrangement.
In its first year, the college district tax will remain level at $0.63. In succeeding years, the tax rate will be set by the elected governing board through a public hearing process. It will be up to the citizens to express their wishes about the level of spending which should take place in Gila County for the provision of post secondary education services.
As a member of the Board of Directors of the Gila County Industrial Development Authority, I support Proposition 400 as a tool to eliminate barriers to economic development and diversification in this county. Businesses looking at our area for possible relocation or expansion are looking at our available work force. The presence of a community college is as important to those potential employers as a hospital.
The $1M that has flowed out of this county for many years can also be used to address county-wide capital improvements and infrastructure, library services, natural resource, industry and water solutions, and property tax stabilization. The board of supervisors has already taken an official action to address these very issues upon passage of Proposition 400.
I ask the residents of Gila County to earnestly consider:
1) Creation of a local, elected governing board that will, with public input, determine the future programming needs and spending levels for post-secondary education in this county, and
2) Elimination of $1M in out-of-county tuition, a fee charged by an Arizona community college district for a Gila County resident to attend a community college outside Gila County.
Please join me and vote yes on Proposition 400.
William Long, Real Estate Broker,
Member, Industrial Development Authority, Globe