GPS Plays Tax Rate Bait and Switch

GPS CFO Tells Board His Plans to Influence Election by Playing with Tax Rates

“…we’re holding up the $1.19. It could have become $1.05. We’re holding up the $1.19, gain that cash position so that it can be applied in the following year to the $1.04. So, the bottom line is the 7.23 for the current year is the same 7.23.  The rate falls next year, precipitously to 6.44 and goes back up to only 6.86. So, that difference between 7.42 in Scenario 1 [rate not artificially suppressed] and 6.86 in Scenario 2 is what we’re trying to do with this process of rate stabilization so that the taxpayer is not burdened as much as they would be had we not tried to do something to moderate what the rate is. I mean it does not give the taxpayer the biggest advantage for next year.  It does give them a stabilization of the rate that’s not going to increase.  It is going to drop some, just because of the nature of those overrides falling away.  But not [allow a] spike [in] the rate in 2016 and 17 where they feel uncomfortable in supporting those elections because of the amount of their tax bill increasing. That’s it in a nutshell. And it seemed to us with our improved M & O cash position and with our ability to moderate a fairly low tax rate in debt service that we ought to take advantage of those opportunities….” Jeff Gadd, Chief Financial Officer, Gilbert Public Schools (Work Study, 4/14/2015, 2:00:19 – 2:01:59)

Whether or not this is a violation of ARS 15-511, it does appear to be an inappropriate use of the GPS’s Finance Department of the district to manipulate voters into supporting a bond and an override, especially since they were expressly discussed as the reason for playing with the tax rates by holding back millions of dollars, which could have easily gone to teacher salaries or to make sure we don’t have another annual manufactured paper famine.