The governing board for Maricopa County Community College District voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to reject a proposed 2 percent increase to its tax levy.
The increase would have generated about $7.4 million for the district, which oversees 10 colleges, including Mesa Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Tempe-based Rio Salado Community College.
The administration had proposed the tax levy increase to boost student support services, operate utilities and other costs for new buildings, and pay for faculty currently funded through another tax, Proposition 301. That .06 percent sales-tax was approved in 2000 to fund education, but receipts have dwindled as the economy has slowed.
MCCCD used the funds to pay for faculty positions, but was hoping the property tax levy could help move those payments to the permanent operating budget, rather than the uncertain sales tax, said Tom Gariepy, the district's director for marketing and communications.
While no cuts are planned now as a result of the failed vote, Gariepy said the funds could have also been used as a cushion should lawmakers make further reductions in state aid to the community colleges in the future.
The Maricopa County Community College District receives about 8 percent of its operating budget from the state, 60 percent from property taxes and 30 percent from tuition and fees. The small remainder comes from other revenue sources. The state has made cuts in aid the last few years.
The previous 2 percent tax levy increase was approved for the 2008-2009 school year. A 2 percent increase is the most the board can approve as allowed by the state constitution, said Debra Thompson, vice chancellor for business services.
Without the tax levy increase, the annual tax payment on a $100,000 home will remain at $79.26.
Along with the tax vote, the board approved a $655 million budget.