In an article published by the Verde Independent under the ‘Letter to the Editor’ on June 28, 2018, Kerry Olson from Clarkdale said, “I have been paying property taxes to Yavapai College now for 40 years. Why in the world do they continually raise taxes in our neck of the woods, and provide less services?”
Further, she said, “We need to do something about their mismanagement of funds. Please can we all get together and do something? I am on Social Security and don’t get raises to cover their increases.”
Well, I guess Kerry Olson’s answer to the question ‘Is it hurting yet?’ is an emphatic YES!
To whom is Kerry Olson appealing when she asks “can we all get together and do something?” Ms. Olson, I can only guess you are talking to all of us voters. Yes, now is the time. As an old friend used to say, throw the bums out. We can all get together by voting at the ballot box.
In a recent article in Sedona.biz about Yavapai College taxation, I read this: “According to the Yavapai County Tax Assessor Judd Simmons, East County (the Verde Valley) taxpayers provide 30% of the taxes used to fund Yavapai College. According to the audited financial statements of the community college, 30% of the total budget for the 2016-2017 school year equals $22,093,809. A recent analysis of these financial statements suggest the College is returning just $9,072,824 in services.”
Now the College’s District Governing Board, at the request of the college’s president, has just passed and approved a budget that includes a 2% property tax increase and another yearly tuition increase. The only person who did not vote for the budget is District 2 (Camp Verde and Cornville) Board Member Deb McCasland.
We desperately need a new way of thinking at the Yavapai College District Governing Board. We certainly need to improve the process regarding how and why the college increases our property taxes.
Currently, what happens is the president of the college submits a budget proposal. The District Governing Board is advised why increases are justified. The budget is presented to the public (in Prescott) during a District Governing Board Meeting and the public is given a chance to express objections. Then the Board votes.
Having been a DGB member for District 3, I cannot recall any instance where a property tax increase was rejected. By the time it is presented to the public, it is a foregone conclusion. We have a huge county – the people need to have an opportunity to have their voices heard. A forum or a meeting in each location throughout Yavapai County must be conducted to allow as many objections as possible to be heard – not just in Prescott. Otherwise, it is not a democratic process. It is a selective and constrained democratic process.
Recently, the Sedona City Council, including the mayor, asked the college to justify the budget that included tax and tuition increases. It was not pretty. Sedona should not have needed to ask. Any property tax increase by the college should be presented in every municipality. Every Kerry Olson needs the opportunity to speak up.
When I observe town and city councils in the Verde Valley propose a tax increase of some sort, it is almost painful what they go through to get consensus, coherence, and approval.
Once I watched Chip Davis, our former District 3 Yavapai County supervisor, address our town and city councils about the jail tax. He met with citizens groups and kept us all informed. He listened to us, not after the fact, but before decisions were made. Now, Supervisors Randy Garrison and Tom Thurman carry on with that tradition. The College’s District Governing Board and leadership should take note. It’s not too much to ask.
However, the college president and the majority of the dollege’s District Governing Board members seem to be an exception. Well the voters have the ultimate power and now is the perfect time to use it – vote.
I can tell you how I’m deciding who gets my vote. First, I read about the candidates. Next, I try to find out if the candidate really knows the issues. Does the candidate have the passion to do the right thing? Does the candidate have a record of advocating for our cause? Can the candidate prove involvement in our community? Last but not least, I want to know who in our community is endorsing the candidate I choose. With answers to all these questions, I believe I can make an informed selection for the office. I urge you to consider doing the same.