Passing Prop 123 Means Property Taxes Could Go Up For Some Arizona School Districts

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Monday, May 23, 2016 - 7:36am
Updated: Monday, May 23, 2016 - 11:48am
(Photo by Casey Kuhn - KJZZ)
Saddle Mountain Unified School District's newest elementary school.

The passage of Proposition 123 will bring school districts more money, but some taxpayers will see an increase in local property taxes.

Almost 40 districts in Arizona-- or about 16 percent of all school districts in the state-- have such high property values that the state determined they don’t require as much state aid. Take Saddle Mountain Unified School district for example, where the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating station is located in Tonopah in the far West Valley.

In an interview earlier this month, Superintendent Mark Joraanstad explained it this way: “So we have a very low tax rate. But relatively speaking, if your overall value is $800 million, then you can tax it at say 2 percent. And that generates a lot of income. And the nuclear plant pays most of that."

Still, Prop 123 promises Saddle Mountain an increase in funding-- almost $400,000 more.

But not all that money will come from the state. Local property taxes will go up to account for the increased spending the district is allowed.

Chuck Essigs with the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, explains, “The equalization formula says that they don’t need state funding, they have enough local funding through their property tax to fund all their programs."

Joraanstad says the tax increase from Prop 123 in his district will only be a few cents higher than the current rate.

Cave Creek and Prescott school districts are also in similar situations.

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