6 things you may not know about the proposed consolidation of Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union districts

Tim Carter (Photo by Howard Fischer)

Tim Carter (Photo by Howard Fischer)

COTTONWOOD – Charged with being a fact-finding committee for both the Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union school boards, the Advisory Committee for Consolidation reviewed answers Tuesday to questions it asked of Yavapai County Schools Superintendent Tim Carter.

“As always, I am not an attorney and do not give legal advice,” Carter reminded the committee with his answers.

1 How are school districts able to use Forest Fund Fees?

Carter: “These dollars are from the Secure Rural Schools Act, commonly called forest fees, which flow from the federal government to the counties as a specific and separate form of PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) and are distributed to the school districts within the county on an ADM formula.

“The districts have voluntarily entered into an IGA with each other to form the Forest Fee management Association (FFMA) and have elected a five member Board of Directors to control their decisions.

“The dollars that the districts receive are unrestricted, so it is up to the individual district to determine how their funds are used. Under the IGA, the districts have agreed to return half of those dollars to the FFMA for joint use and collective purchasing as determined by the FFMA Board.

“One of the things that the FFMA routinely pays for their member districts, are all election costs incurred during normal November election cycles (candidates, property sales, over-rides, bonds, consolidation, unification, etc.).”

2 Once the districts decide to get consolidation/unification on the ballot, how deep will the study go into financials?

Carter: “The study will provide the information required by statute. We assume those items are listed in ARS 15-459, and those that are directly related by text.”

3 If the community approves consolidation in November 2018, what would be the function and the composition of the boards?

Carter: “Please especially review ARS 15-459.R and ARS 15-430. As I understand it, from the time a successful 2018 election is canvassed until June 30, 2019, the Mingus and COCSD Boards will continue to meet, and conduct their normal business. They will also start meeting as a joint unified Board that will make decisions for the newly-created unified school district.

“The joint Board will continue until five ‘new’ Unified Board Members (they may be from the old existing Boards, or not) are selected by the voters in November 2019 and seated on January 1, 2020.”

4 Would there be bond and override changes and capacity as a result of consolidation?

Carter: “We cannot answer questions in this regard, until either the Governing Boards or voter/petitioners actually call for an election, so we know the applicable portion of the law. Generally the bond and over-rides are retained by the ‘property at the time of the affirmative election,’ and the separate issue of ‘asset distribution’ will also have to be decided.”

5 Would Clarkdale vote on the consolidation and unification of the districts?

Carter: “Yes, it is my opinion that the citizens of Clarkdale should participate as voters in the election, as they are part of the Mingus Union High School District.”

6 What would be the effect on Clarkdale tax payers?

Carter: “This is unknown at this point. We do not plan to run these numbers until there is actually an election called.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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