Tue, Feb. 25

Editorial Don’t be confused on override vote; your tax bill is not at threat

If you’re confused about the upcoming November ballot with two different budget overrides, you’re probably in good company.

If you are scratching your head and asking, “Didn’t I just vote on an override a couple of years ago,” the answer is yes.

See, we have multiple school districts in the Upper Verde. Among them, we’ve seen bond issues, maintenance and operations overrides and capital overrides all show up on various ballots in different elections.

It’s easy to get confused.

But for the sake of clarity, the upcoming maintenance and operations override ballots that soon will arrive in the mailboxes of Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union district voters definitely do not represent a threat to your property tax bottom line. You should think of these ballot questions as status-quo measures. If approved, they continue the secondary property tax obligation that has been in place in the Upper Verde for decades. Mingus has had this same M&O override in place for 32 years. It’s been part of Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s revenue flow for 24 years.

A yes vote – two yes votes to be exact – will continue current funding and it will not cause an increase in your property tax.

Upper Verde voters should pat themselves on the back for choosing to continue the override support for Mingus and Cottonwood-Oak Creek. Not all communities are so quick to check the yes box when it comes to overrides.

In Camp Verde, for example, voters emphatically rejected budget override questions in 2007 and 2012. If you look back to the 2013 general election, when Arizona was still in the grips of a severe recession, voters in Prescott, Humboldt and Chino Valley all convincingly rejected bond and override questions.

As for the sentiment that there is a “consolidation cloud” hanging over this year’s Mingus and Cottonwood-Oak Creek override votes, it should be noted that the leaders of the current school district consolidation effort have publicly come out in support of the Yes-Yes campaign for Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union.

While he is an unabashed advocate of the cost-savings of a merged Mingus/Cottonwood-Oak Creek school district, consolidation supporter Andy Groseta says, “If we as a community want to continue to provide good educational opportunities for our students, then we will need to continue to pick up the financial burden, including overrides to operate our public schools.”

But, it bears emphasis that the two school boards playing ping-pong with district consolidation could stand to take a page from the playbook of the very people leading the charge on the Yes-Yes campaign.

Yes-Yes leaders Jamie Woodward and Brandi Bateman are adamant that both override questions should be on the same ballot.

“We see the needs as being very similar, and it creates additional collaboration,” Woodward says. “So it’s definitely important that they go out together.”

Both Mingus Union and Cottonwood-Oak Creek school districts are “serving the same students,” says Bateman.

“They start at Cottonwood-Oak Creek, they end up at Mingus,” said Bateman. “We want to be a unified front for our kids.”

There is a strong message to be heard in those statements for the members of the two school boards.

The best way to be “a unified front for the kids” is to be united.

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