Split Gcc Board Nixes Tax Hike Vote

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Gila Community College won’t ask voters to pay an extra $1.5 million in a secondary property tax, the board decided Thursday.

The measure needed four votes to pass, but the vote split 3-2 with southern Gila County board members Bob Ashford, Armida Bittner and Bernadette Kniffin favoring the ballot measure and northern Gila County members Tom Loeffler and Larry Stephenson opposed.

“I cannot support this motion,” said Stephenson. “If we cannot account for the money we have gathered so far,” he added, “then I think we have no business asking for more money.”

Ashford said Gila County’s college tax rate — now the second-lowest in the state — would still be low even if voters approved the measure.

Bittner also pushed for board approval. “I do not believe that everybody in Gila County is making so much money and would love to have their taxes raised,” she said. But residents value education, and she hoped they would be willing to back that support with funding.

Ashford said the measure would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $50 annually.

He said that without the money, the college could lose one of its best, but most expensive, programs — nursing — if it should miss out on a grant or earmark.

“I don’t want to be all doom and gloom,” Ashford said. “These are just the real truths of it.”

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