Scottsdale Bond

Pro-bond forces are making a big effort in their campaign for a yes vote.

Scottsdale voters will begin getting their ballots this week for the city’s upcoming $319-million bond election and Scottsdale Unified School District’s maintenance and operations budget override.

Only voters who live within the school district’s boundaries will be asked to vote for or against a continuation of the override.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office will begin mailing out ballots on Oct. 9 for the Nov. 5 all-mail election.

The last day to register for the election is tomorrow, Oct. 7, according to the recorder’s office.

All voters, even those not on the early voting list, will receive a ballot.

The city’s bond will be divided into three questions on the ballot covering parks, recreation and senior services ($112.6 million); community spaces and infrastructure ($112.3 million) and public safety and technology ($94.1 million).

A full list of bond projects can be found at scottsdaleaz.gov/elections/bond-2019-project-list.

In accordance with state law, the city would pay off the debt accrued by bonds through a secondary property tax levy.

The city’s current total secondary property tax on property owners in 2019 is $57.05 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, according to information provided by the city.

If all three bond questions are passed by voters, that levy would actually decrease to $55.27 in 2020 as existing debt retires.

City projections show the secondary property tax per $100,000 of assessed valuation, if all bonds pass, going to $56.72 in 2021 and $56.50 in 2022 before continuing to drop moderately each year into the foreseeable future.

If the bond questions are approved, the total property tax obligation, including the primary property tax, per $100,000 of home value would range between $111.25 and $112.25 between 2021 and 2028 before beginning a decline in 2029.

According to the city, passage of all three bonds would result in an estimated property tax impact of $8.99 per month on a homeowner with a $375,000 home – the median single-family home value in the city.

To look at it another way, the $319-million bond – if approved – would on average contribute an additional $0.2877 per $100 of limited assessed valuation to Scottsdale’s projected secondary property tax rate between 2021 and 2043, peaking with an additional $0.4490 added to the tax rate in 2029.

Alternatively, if the bonds are not approved by voters, the secondary property tax rate would be less each year by an average of $0.2877.

For instance, Scottsdale’s projected property tax rate in 2025 is $0.2619 per $100 of value if the bonds are not passed by voters. That secondary levy would increase to $0.5598 if all three bond questions pass due to the inclusion of $0.2980 to service the bond debt.

If all bonds pass, it would equate to an average annual tax on property owners over the life of the bonds of $28.77 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, Nichols said.

The PAC supporting the bond has secured endorsements from a number of local businesses and organizations, including the Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association, Police Officers of Scottsdale Association (POSA), Scottsdale Lodge 35 – Fraternal Order of Police, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS, Scottsdale Charros, Barrett-Jackson, Honor Health, The Thunderbirds, and Waste Management.

The bond is also unanimously supported by City Council.

The city’s voter pamphlet also includes 59 statements in support of and two against the bonds.

All statements can be read in the city’s election information pamphlet at scottsdaleaz.gov/Assets/ScottsdaleAZ/Elections/110519electionpamphlet.pdf.

The school district also seek override OK.

Voters are also being asked whether or not they support the continuation of SUSD’s existing 15 percent M&O override that voters approved in 2014.

It is anticipated that the existing tax rate will not go up if the override is approved.

“The estimated secondary tax rate for the proposed override is approximately equal to the existing secondary tax rate for the current override,” according to the official informational pamphlet.

A maintenance and operations, or M&O, override allows school districts to supplement their budget by generating additional income via a secondary property tax levy.

 The maximum budget increase districts can seek via an override is 15  percent of the state-mandated revenue control limit, according to state law.

M&O budget override funds cannot be used for capital expenses or one-time purchases.

“Override funds are used to supplement the state funding formula and cannot be used to build or renovate buildings or buy desks and computers. These dollars help provide a comprehensive education program,” according to the informational pamphlet.

According to a statement approved by the SUSD Governing Board, the proposed override would continue funding needed to maintain current class size ratios and “continue to provide opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of fine arts, and participate in athletics and extracurricular activities.”

The proposed override would also provide funding to allow the district continue to provide competitive teacher pay, professional staff development, continue the district’s emphasis on technology and provide all-day Kindergarten.

A successful election authorizes the override for seven years, though school districts are required to seek reapproval of the override after 5 years.

SUSD is currently in the fifth year of a seven-year authorization approved by voters in 2014.

If approved by voters, the new authorization will generate approximately $21.4 million for the district, according to information presented by SUSD CFO Jeff Gadd at community meetings.

Reauthorization of the override will result in an estimated tax rate of approximately $0.38 cents per $100 of net assessed valuation, according to Gadd.

That would result in an estimated cost of $13.75 per month, or $165 per year, for a $431,910 home – the average home value in the district.

The district’s total property tax rate has steadily declined over the past several years and is currently 3.6416 for 2019-20, the lowest among similar Valley districts, Gadd said.

The district’s 2018-19 total property tax rate of 3.704 was well below the rates in Gilbert (6.105), Paradise Valley (6.558), Deer Valley (6.635), Chandler (6.665), Dysart (6.895), Peoria (7.019) and Mesa (7.216) school districts.

If the override is not reauthorized, the existing override will cut back by one-third each year until it is phased out. That would include a corresponding cutback in the property tax rate for property owners in the district.

“Each one-third reduction would lower the secondary tax rate by approximately $0.13,” according to the voter pamphlet.

The reduction in funding would result in a cut to the services currently supported by the override.

A large number of local businesses and organizations have endorsed approval of the override continuance, including HonorHealth, Scottsdale Charros, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce , Scottsdale Education Association and Scottsdale Parent Council.

Local government officials supporting the bond include Scottsdale Council members Virginia Korte, Kathy Littlefield, Linda Milhaven and Solange Whitehead.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner also publicly supported approval of the override.

Former SUSD Governing Board member Christine Schild and Loyd Eskildson, a former chief deputy with the Maricopa County School Superintendent’s Office, have both voiced- opposition to continuing the override.

For votes to be counted, the Maricopa County Elections Department must receive a ballot by 7 p.m. Nov. 5.

Ballots must be mailed by Oct. 29 to meet the county deadline, according to SUSD.

Voters can also drop completed ballots off at replacement voting centers during hours of operation. 

There are two voting centers in Scottsdale at the Indian Bend Wash Visitor’s Center, 4201 N. Hayden Road, and at the Florence Ely Nelson Desert Park, 8950 E. Pinnacle Peak Road.

Ballots can also be delivered to Maricopa County Elections at 510 S. Third Ave. in Phoenix or 222 E. Javelina Ave. in Mesa. 

For voting center hours of operation: scottsdaleaz.gov/elections.