3/27/2014 2:03:00 PM Letter: Where is our college tax money going?
People of the Verde Valley, you are being robbed. The more I find out about the 10-year plan for Yavapai College, the more I am convinced of that. The Campus Master Plan, prepared by the Yavapai College District Governing Board, was presented in December 2013. It was formulated after an organization called Smithgroup JJR Paulien and Associates did a analysis of the Yavapai College District and came up with some recommendations. Keep in mind these recommendations were based on the feedback of 57 people.
Yavapai College claims they must consolidate sites and become more efficient because of declining student enrollment and cuts from state appropriations. In 2012, state appropriations to the college dropped from over $4 million to about $900,000 a year. However, this shortfall was more than made up for in one year by property taxes, sales taxes and tuition fees.
Of the more than $55 million that the Yavapai College District brought in 2013 (about $3 million more than in 2012), $12 million came directly from Verde Valley residents. The Verde campus and the Sedona campus, combined, cost about $7 million a year to operate. Do you wonder where that other $5 million went? Look over the hill. That's your money building dorms, parking lots, athletic facilities, technology facilities, etc.
Meanwhile, on this side of the mountain is a depressed economy. Thirty-six percent of Cottonwood students qualify for the free lunch program. That means 36 percent of the children in this town live at or below the poverty line. In Sedona, it's 46 percent and in Camp Verde it's 66 percent.
Why should we care about that? Even if you could care less about children growing up in poverty, poverty brings problems to a community that we could all live without. The best stimulus of an economy is a thriving middle class with disposable income. The ticket out of poverty and into the middle class is education.
Yavapai College, if you're not going to invest in our community, then we want our money back!