Area realtor omits facts regarding CCUSD tax rates

By Linda Bentley | September 2, 2009

Weiss discusses only the tax rate, or the multiplier, and completely ignores the multiplicand to complete the equation

CCUSD – On Aug. 19, Ron Weiss, a Phoenix resident, realtor and taxpayer in the Cave Creek Unified School District, submitted a letter to the editor proclaiming “The K-3 override decision is a no brainer,” “CCUSD reduces rate 73 percent since 1999” and “Rates now compared to Chicken Feed.”

Weiss wrote, “As an area realtor, I know the strong correlation between good schools, strong housing markets and home values. Over the years, I have had numerous clients make their home purchase decision based primarily upon the quality of our Cave Creek schools.”

While noting all eight CCUSD schools are designated “Excelling” for the third year in a row, Weiss asserts such achievements help to attract homebuyers and ultimately to sell homes.
Weiss goes on to say how the schools in the district achieve despite “ongoing budget slashing,” and states, “Supporting the Nov. 3 override effort is one of the few ways we have to support and invest locally, in our local schools.”

Citing every property owner in CCUSD is paying a tax rate of $1.59 ($1.43 Primary and $0.16 Secondary), Weiss asked us to compare the current rate to that of ten years ago when the total tax rate was $5.96 ($3.71 Primary and $2.25 Secondary) and declares it to be a 73 percent decrease, as if that equated to reduction in taxes.

Although Weiss claims voting in favor of the K-3 override “is a true no-brainer” and says this is not a “new tax” but rather one “baked” into our property tax bills he also states the cost to continue this override is “literally chicken feed.”

He states, “If your home has an assessed value of $500,000, your annual cost is less than $17,” adding, “My home is certainly worth a $17 investment and this conservative Republican will be voting ‘Yes.’ Any other decision would be a true ‘no brainer.’”

When it didn’t make print last week, Weiss resubmitted his letter with the comment, “I noticed you conveniently disregarded my previous letter to the editor. Please review and reconsider. I feel it has some important facts that every voter in our district deserves to know. (You wouldn’t want to censor these facts would you?)”

The editor chose not to publish Weiss’ letter for a number of reasons: 1) it was too long for a letter to the editor; 2) it was too short for a guest editorial; and 3) it would have been a disservice to our readers.

Weiss discusses only the tax rate, or the multiplier, and completely ignores the multiplicand to complete the equation.

Sure, the combined tax rates have gone from $5.7566 to $1.5974. However, the combined primary and secondary assessed valuation, or the multiplicand, has gone from $1.2 billion in 2000 to $5.3 billion in 2009.

In 2000, primary assessed valuation was at $537 million and secondary assessed valuation was $654 million.

By 2009, those numbers reached $2.4 billion and $2.9 billion, respectively.

The district receives approximately 80 percent of its funds from district taxpayers, with between 15 and 20 percent from the state and the balance from the federal government.
And while Weiss says his home is certainly worth a $17 investment, he won’t have to pay that much since valuations have gone down in his neighborhood. Weiss saw decreases in both primary and secondary valuations for 2010, with a 20 percent decrease in his Full Cash Value (FCV) and a 4 percent decrease in his Limited Property Value (LPV).

For others who weren’t so lucky after receiving increased assessments of 54 percent to their FCV a couple of years ago, a 9 percent reduction has been no consolation, especially when coupled with an 8 percent increase to their LPV.

Weiss also didn’t bother to mention the district was recently increased in size (taxpayer base) by 31 square miles, or 22 percent. While the vast majority of school-aged children living in the annexed area already attended CCUSD, those properties are now assessed, taxed and are contributing to the district.

That addition, which includes upscale properties such as Troon North, certainly contributed to the lower tax rate.

As an area realtor, Weiss should have known better than to omit all those facts from his letter.

However, since Weiss and others in his neighborhood won’t be taxed $17 like many others might, should the override pass, there is nothing precluding any taxpayer from donating any amount of money to the district and receiving a tax deduction (not a tax credit) for that donation.