Arizona Western College President Dr. Glenn Mayle says the college’s impact on the local economy by educating the workforce makes it worth the $216-per-$100,000 property tax you’ll pay next year for it. As the state of Arizona continues to pull funding out of education statewide, AWC is recommending its maximum allowed 2% tax increase for the first time in years to compensate. An editorial from Mayle follows for discussion.
If you own a $100,000 home in La Paz or Yuma counties, the property tax you pay to AWC this next year will be $216, based on the approved preliminary budget. Do you know what you get for $216? Access to higher education. Sustained job training and workforce development. Decreased unemployment costs, law enforcement and incarceration costs. Better community health. Less crime. Less poverty, illiteracy, teen-age pregnancy and drug addiction. An increased tax base. Increased productivity for area businesses.
In Yuma and La Paz counties, higher education is the quiet engine that helps drive the economy.
Yes, education helps lift families out of poverty, and increases a student’s lifetime income. But it goes way beyond a single student and their family. Even if you never set foot on one of our campuses in La Paz or Yuma County, you benefit from the economic impact of AWC.
As a taxpayer, for every $1 you spend to support AWC, you get $3.90 in benefits, in additional tax revenues from students who enter the workforce in higher-paying jobs, and increased productivity at regional businesses. That’s a rate of return of 10.7%.
Understanding the math behind the property taxes that help fund Arizona Western College is relatively simple.
This year, the primary (property) tax that went to the Arizona Western College district was $2.00 per $1,000 of assessed value ($200 a year on a $100,000 home).
Next year that tax rate will automatically rise to $2.12 (the actual tax is impacted by changes in new construction and assessed property values). This will be the rate if the college district levies a zero percent tax increase. By law, the college district can levy up to a 2% tax increase, and for the past three years the college has levied less than the legal amount – in 2012 and in 2013 the college held the line and chose to levy no additional tax (0%); and in 2014, the college increased only half of what it was legally permitted (1%).
This year, college administration is recommending a 2% increase, the legal limit. This would increase the primary tax from $2.12 to $2.165 ($216.50 annually on a $100,000 home).
There are many reasons why a tax increase is justifiable. One of the largest is that we continue to graduate more students at the same time state funding is drying up. Next year state funding will make up 6.3% of the AWC general fund budget; the original funding model for Arizona colleges included 33% from the state. AWC is also investing in facilities and technology to make sure we are setting students up for success whether they head out to a job or to University. In La Paz County, we’ve been expanding dual enrollment opportunities in a variety of areas, and we’re developing plans for a community center at the site of the old John Deere building.
This year, as budgets tightened due to reduced funding, we made several changes to be good fiscal stewards. We scrutinized all hiring needs, drastically reduced travel, and our facilities department continued developing three projects that have already paid off in utility savings: individual building metering, smart valves, and a district-wide Turn it Off campaign.
When you consider your support for Arizona Western College, please consider this:
- AWC keeps costs low (AWC costs-per-student benchmark well below other rural AZ colleges)
- AWC supports local jobs
- AWC sustains a skilled workforce
- AWC increases students’ lifetime incomes
- AWC expands the state’s economic base
- AWC improves quality of life
When you compare $212 per $100,000 of assessed value (0% increase) to $216, please remember that we take that money and turn it into increased community benefits. Remember the return on investment we mentioned above for taxpayers? We can also demonstrate a significant return for society, and students.
As a member of the community, for every $1 you spend to support AWC, you gain $12.20 in added state income and social savings, like unemployment and law enforcement savings, and reduced health costs.
And our students, for every $1 they spend, in tuition, books and fees, they gain $9.60 in lifetime income. That’s a rate of return of 32.6%.
I am proud of all of our students. College is difficult all by itself, but many are also parents, and many are working while going to school. When they choose to invest in themselves, they are also, quite literally, investing in all of you. Because by enriching their own lives, they are bringing prosperity to our region, and enriching yours.
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Dr. Glenn Mayle is the 8th president of Arizona Western College. He can be reached at or (928) 344-7500. Copies of the Economic Impact Study for Arizona Western College are available by emailing AWC Institutional Effectives, Research and Grants at )