The Central Arizona College (CAC) Board of Governors has approved a tentative budget that will require a 35% in crease in property taxes for Pinal County homeowners. This tax translates to approximately a $100 tax increased per $100,000 assessed valuation on a home. A lot of retirees live in $400,000 homes and a $400 increase in taxes will hit them very hard.
Currently, Pinal County has the second highest primary tax rate in the State at $3.7999. Pinal County Board of Supervisors reduced the property tax rate by $.10 last year. The Board of Governor’s property tax increase obliterates the County tax reduction.
What is going on in CAC? Since 2009, the CAC property tax rate has increased by over 72%, while Pinal County’s property tax rate has increased almost 13%. The CAC property tax rate has grown over 5.5 times faster than the Pinal County tax rate.
The proposed CAC tax rate will make CAC the most expensive community college in Arizona yet CAC serves only 3% of Arizona’s full-time student equivalent (FTSE) in all Arizona community colleges. How can this be? Are salaries excessively high?
The President of CAC, Doris Hemlich, was invited to a meeting of concerned citizens on May 16th. She was totally unprepared for the reaction of SaddleBrooke residents. Resident after resident stood up to speak against the egregious tax increase. Dr. Helmich attempted to frame the tax increase issue as critical to building an educated workforce that will attract businesses.
Unfortunately, Dr. Hemlich had it backwards. Currently, approximately 56% of Pinal County’s work force leave Pinal County daily to go to work. If you look at Maricopa county , businesses are located along the Pinal County line but very few in Pinal County. The reason: Pinal County has the second highest primary property tax rate in the State at $3.7999. Maricopa County, at $1.2407, ranks 11th.
The CAC proposed primary and secondary property tax rate is over twice that of Maricopa County’s primary rate alone. The CAC Board of Governors, through its egregious tax increase, is, in effect, telling businesses to stay away.
Let me quote a CAC student, who shall remain anonymous to protect the student from any CAC administration retaliation:
“CAC couldn’t fill their existent classrooms when they received money to buy the satellite campus at Trekell and Florence. Next they used our tax dollars to get hold of another satellite facility in the Palm Center mall just off I10 and Florence. I use these two facilities constantly and have observed they have a running ratio of administration to students at roughly 7:1. The classrooms are always empty. At the facility on Trekell, the guy running things has his computer screen facing the door. He spends much of his day of time poking around on the internet . . .
The computer lab there was being monitored by a student employee. When she had to study for finals, tests, etc. she’d simply close the lab and leave… leaving students who paid money to use those computers nowhere to go other than out to the main campus . . . The computer labs rarely have more than three students (20 computers) at any given time . . .
This college is NOT about education: it is the new WPA and operates without ANY responsible supervision . . .”
The proposed CAC property tax represents 62% of Pinal County’s property tax rate. The Board of Governors and its decision to increase the CAC property tax by 35% do not pass the proverbial sniff test. The CAC “truth in taxes” meeting on May 21st should be very interesting, indeed.