October 26, 2004
Local colleges say they need more space and the latest technology to train students, and are asking Maricopa County voters to agree to a property tax increase to back bonds to pay for it.
Proposition 401 would allow the Maricopa Community College District to float $951 million in general obligation bonds to build 1.6 million square feet of new space at 10 campuses in Maricopa County, buy land for new campuses, replace obsolete technology, remodel buildings and repair equipment and infrastructure. Generally, the breakdown would be $550 million for construction projects, $300 million for computer and technology equipment, and the rest for security equipment on campuses, reroofing, repaving parking lots and other maintenance projects.
Bond money would pay for, among other things, construction of a health care training center and a nursing and biomedical facility.
The bonds would be repaid by a property tax increase in less than 20 years at a total cost of nearly $1.4 billion in principal and interest.
Homes in Maricopa County valued at $100,000 would see an average property tax increase of $15.83 per year. The rate for businesses would be higher.
Proponents say the bond money would ensure all students have access to an affordable education, allow the colleges to keep up with technology and high student population growth rates, attract top instructors and offer students comfortable and safe learning environments.
Opponents say bonds shouldn’t pay for computers because they become obsolete quickly, or for maintenance and repairs because they are recurring expenses; the district fails to serve the growing Hispanic student population; salaries and other administrative costs are too high; and the district broke its promises to voters on how money from the previous bond election would be used.