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City of Tucson formally opposes change in district desegregation tax law

Posted at 7:35 PM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 22:35:26-04

The City of Tucson has adopted a resolution opposing legislation passed in May that frees up money for raises for Arizona public school teachers, but also requires districts to cover the full cost of desegregation efforts – which is millions of dollars for Tucson Unified School District.

Homeowners in TUSD are likely to see a significant increase in their property tax bill because of the change in state law. The legislature changed the desegregation levy from the primary property tax to the secondary tax, which means it isn’t limited by a state law which caps the primary property tax of a home at 1% of its value.

For years, the state made up the difference between revenue districts could raise through property taxes and what it needs to pay for desegregation costs. TUSD says it needs to raise an additional $16 million.

Councilman Paul Durham called the change outrageous, “I think this was another attempt by the state legislature to damage Tucson and I'm getting tired of it.”

Last week Pima County supervisors voted not to collect those taxes, which means TUSD will likely have to sue the county to do it, setting up a legal show down over the constitutionality of the state law.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says it is possible, but not likely, the city would join any legal action against the state regarding the law.

“We'll look down the road and we'll file an amicus and say, ‘our citizens are affected by this too and this is why we support the position of TUSD,’” the Mayor said.