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Guest Opinion

Verde Valley taxes should benefit Verde Valley residents

The Camp Verde Journal of Camp Verde, Arizona

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When I retired as the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District superintendent in 2007, I was asked to serve on the Greater Verde Valley Foundation Board for Yavapai College. I was happy to serve on this board because I had seen the positive impact the college had in the Verde Valley during the 1990s and well into this century.

Sadly, the direction Yavaipai College has taken in recent years has caused me to agree with a growing number of our community members that it is now time to take control over how our property taxes are used.

Yavapai College is not held to the same financial restrictions that our local schools experience. The Governing Board of the college can simply vote to increase property taxes rather than going to the voters for approval. Against the recommendation of the Verde Valley Advisory Committee, the District Governing Board, followed the administration's recommendation to increase the property taxes by 2 percent.

This is the sixth time in the last 10 years that property taxes for the community college have been increased. It also comes on the heels of a 4 percent tuition hike approved in February.

Now, if I felt this money would be used to reinstate the many classes and programs the college has eliminated in the Verde Valley, I would not be writing this opinion piece. Unfortunately, we are seeing the taxes from the 77,000 Verde Valley residents going toward such projects as a dinner theater and professional tennis complex on the Prescott campus.

It is important to note that Yavapai College spends a little over $7 million annually on the Clarkdale and Sedona sites. In 2012, the college took in over $12 million from Verde Valley residents. The excess $5 million goes to support the wonderful facilities on the west side of our county. See the Eye on Yavapai College website for detailed information. In other words, about 40 percent of every dollar in property taxes paid in Sedona and the Verde Valley goes over the mountain and almost always stays there.

I believe it is now time that the residents in the Verde Valley demand that the property taxes generated in the Verde Valley, remain in the Verde Valley for the benefit of our communities. We need a college that meets the needs of our population, not one that spends hard-earned money on improving facilities in Prescott.

Julie Larson has been a Sedona resident for 25 years. She was hired as principal of Dr. Daniel Bright school in 1990 when Sedona was part of the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

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Original Publication Date: June 17, 2015

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