Decimal point error costs Catalina Foothills School District nearly $2 million

Tax levy mistake cost district $1.8 million in funding
Updated: Oct. 24, 2019 at 10:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A decimal point dilemma may affect a Tucson school district’s bottom line.

A memorandum from the Pima County administrator said the office was recently made aware of “an error that impacts the fiscal year 2019/20 secondary property tax levy for the Catalina Foothills Unified School District.”

This mistake was made on an override that passed in 2015, providing the district $2 million each year to upgrade facilities.

Property owners living in the district were supposed to be billed about 31 cents for every $100 of assessed value of their homes. However, a decimal point put in the wrong place meant they were only charged 3.1 cents for every $100 this year.

According to the memo from the county administrator, the tax levy error "results in the district receiving $1.8 million less in property taxes than was originally budgeted for fiscal year 2019-20.”

Parents were not pleased by the news.

“I think it’s disappointing because we pay our property taxes, we pay our property taxes on time,” said Catalina Foothills School District parent Jeff Parks. "I wish the county would have taken the time to realize the error before they sent out the billing statements. It’s unfortunate because a $1.8 million shortfall is only going to impact the schools and the students. To put it back on the taxpayers when it was their error is frustrating.”

The district released a statement from superintendent Dr. Mary Kamerzell:

"We are very disappointed that this occurred. The county has an obligation to assess and collect these taxes that our district voters approved in 2015. This was not a new tax. It has been assessed the past three years correctly.”

The district’s annual operations budget is more than $38 million — $2 million of which is supposed to come from the override.

The override will have to be made up in the next fiscal year, meaning taxpayers will be billed nearly double for this portion of their property taxes. An increase that amounts to roughly $1,400 on a $500,000 home.

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