Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow says he is "confused how our own lawyer is suing us," after learning Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked a Superior Court Judge to stop ASU and the Arizona Board of Regents from using their tax-exempt status to facilitate special property deals for favored businesses.
The lawsuit says ASU is wrongly leasing property that is meant for programs that benefit the university through education spaces.
The land is property tax exempt, and Arizona State has done deals with companies like State Farm among others to build offices along the Marina Heights commercial space near Tempe Town Lake.
“These deals are designed to shield selected companies from property taxes while generating revenue for ABOR (Arizona Board of Regents) and ASU, at the expense of the taxpaying community,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit works to force Omni to pay property tax on a deal that is in the works for a large hotel and conference center near downtown Tempe.
The lawsuit says ABOR is “acting outside of their educational mission” to benefit off of the deals, however ASU says the deals are within legal boundaries and benefit the university.
“The regents (AZBOR), who can speak for themselves, they have the task of helping the university to find the resources to pay for the university,” said Crow. “And so, if the university finds resources to pay for the university through the use of its property, that's fully allowable under the constitution.”
Attorney General Brnovich, however, says the state is losing millions of dollars in property taxes because of the deals, and that ASU shouldn’t be in the real estate business.
“My job is to be in the corner of hard-working Arizona taxpayers and I will fight every day to protect Arizona families and it doesn’t matter who the entity is Dr. Crow is one of the most powerful people in the state but he has to play by the same rules as anyone else,” said Brnovich.
Below is a map that highlights the property locations in question in the lawsuit.