TUSD property tax rate soars due to state budget

TUSD property tax soars due to state budget
Published: Aug. 20, 2018 at 9:37 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 21, 2018 at 7:55 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Pima County tax bills will be in the mail in two weeks and for many, there will be a big surprise.

Homeowners in TUSD will find a new line on their tax bills called TUSD desegregation.

This is a sample sent to KOLD from the county depicting what the new bill may look like when it comes to TUSD funding.

Tax Comparison 2017-2018 TUSD Unincorporated Area Estimate 8-20-18 by Tucson News Now on Scribd

For the average $200,000 home, according to Pima County, the line will read about $266.

However, it doesn't mean homeowners are paying the additional tax, even though the tax levy for county residents who live in TUSD appears to read an increase of 83 percent. For TUSD residents inside the city, it's 58 percent.

It may prove to be true but for the time being it can be misleading.

Homeowners in TUSD could be assessed because state lawmakers are refusing to reimburse Pima County for education taxes which it has been paying since 1983. The total amount is estimated to be about $16 million and will affect about 100,000 homeowners in TUSD.

The county however, believes because it cut taxes in 2018, the bill will be smaller, "maybe $10 to $11 million," according to assistant county administrator Tom Burke. That is still money which must be paid either by the state, the county or TUSD.

It's still unclear but Burke says the county does not feel it owes the money.

According to Burke that is why Pima County is refusing to collect the money from taxpayers and has given homeowners an approximate credit of $272.73 for this coming year.

"This is something serious for TUSD," said Pima County Schools Superintendent Dustin Williams. "This pays teacher salaries, it helps the schools do what they need to do to insure the kids get the best education possible."

The state attempted to short Pima County nearly $18 million in education funds three years ago but the county sued and the state lost in court.

This appears to be another attempt to target the county, but more specifically, TUSD and its federally court mandated desegregation order.

"It is something that's directed at TUSD, absolutely" said Williams. "When you do something fast and you something hastily, this is what happens."

The case will likely be litigated in court again and depending on the outcome of the litigation will determine who pays and how much.

The taxpayers of Pima County may be forced to pay it depending on the court outcome but that would be in ensuring years, it will not be this year, according to Burke.

TUSD is contemplating a friendly lawsuit against the country to force it to collect the deseg money or sue the state to force it to pay up, but has not made a final decision as yet.

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