Some people seem to be confused about the property tax aspects of Proposition 400 Provisional Community College. I would like to address the questions I am hearing the most often:
Q. What is a maximum tax levy limit?
A. All taxing jurisdictions which levy a primary property tax must establish a maximum tax levy limit. Once established, the actual tax levy can be at or below the maximum levy limit. The main point is that the maximum levy limit is declared so that voters know that amount cannot be exceeded.
Q. Why was the maximum tax levy limit in Proposition 400 established at $4,125,015?
A. Arizona law (ARS15-1409C) requires that the maximum tax levy limit shall be no less than this amount, which is the amount for most recently formed community college district in the state (Coconino County).
Q. If I vote "yes" on Proposition 400, will my property tax for the community college increase next year?
A. Absolutely not. Proposition 400 limits the tax rate for next year at 63 cents. Based on assessed valuation for FY 2002-2003, the 63 cents will generate the same $2.1 million tax levy as was levied in FY 2002-2003.
Q. What about the following years?
A. The Provisional Community College Board, appointed for the first two years by Gila County School Superintendent Armida Bittner and elected by the voters thereafter, will set the tax rate after Proposition 400 passes. But I think it's also important to look at how taxing jurisdictions typically handle the difference between maximum tax levy and actual tax levy.
Of 21 tax jurisdictions in Gila County that have maximum tax levy limits, 19 are below their maximum levy limit. Currently, Gila County is below its maximum tax levy limit by $5,844,912. No one is suggesting that there will be a tax increase for the community college; but I am pointing out that with or without Proposition 400, the taxing authority already exists for an increase to pay for the community college programs.
Q. If taxes were increased in the future under Proposition 400, what has to be done to increase them?
A. The five-member elected Community College Governing Board would be required to publish a quarter-page advertisement in the official Gila County newspaper noticing the public of its plan to increase taxes, and would be required to hold public hearings prior to approving any increase in taxes.
Q. Does the current system have the same requirement for hearings and notice for increasing taxes?
A. No. The current property tax levied for community college services is a secondary property tax for which public disclosure of a tax increase is not required. In fact, every year since 1991, the secondary property tax has increased, and no public notice was given, nor was it required.
Hopefully this information will help clear up the confusion on the property tax aspects of Proposition 400. If you have additional questions, please call me at (928) 425-3231, ext. 8741, or Steve Besich at ext. 8754.