Despite lingering questions about the exact size of Gila Community College’s budget deficit, board members approved Thursday a tax levy ballot measure for a March election.
The 25-cent secondary tax could raise $1.2 million, which board chairman Bob
Ashford said would ease the college out of debt. The college’s primary tax levy is roughly 53 cents per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
“At this point, I don’t see any other option,” said Ashford. The board voted 4-1 to pass the proposal, with member Larry Stephenson opposed.
The college has furloughed administrative
staff four days each month, raised student tuition by 30 percent and reduced the number of seniors eligible for tuition wavers to cut costs.
Ashford said that those maneuvers will decrease the deficit, but not solve it since the tuition changes take effect in January — too late to raise enough revenue.
Eastern Arizona College runs GCC and controls its finances. Several GCC board members have criticized the financial documents EAC provides, calling their extreme detail confusing.
Without clear information, some board members say it’s impossible to track spending.
Board member Tom Loeffler said EAC Chief Business Officer Tim Curtis has not returned any of five phone calls. Curtis has also not responded to repeated calls from the Roundup.
“Before we ask for more money, we need to demonstrate as a board we have control over the money we do have coming in,” Stephenson said.
Loeffler said he wanted to let voters decide.
In June, the board passed a seemingly balanced $6.17 million budget, but found out weeks later the college actually had a $2 million deficit. Senior Dean Stephen Cullen later said the deficit shrunk to $500,000, but board members still don’t have an exact figure.
Gila County cannot legally run its own college because it fails to meet legislatively set property valuations and population thresholds.