The leadership team at Coconino Community College which includes the District Governing Board promoted legislation in the just concluded regular session of the Arizona Legislature that provided a targeted approach to meet the current financial needs of Coconino Community College.
House Bill 2144, and subsequently HB 2407, was designed to allow CCC to "reset" its property tax levy, to meet current citizen and community expectations, rather than the more limited expectations that existed at the time the College was established 20 years ago.
When CCC opened its doors in 1991, the College served less than 1,000 learners. Today the College is serving over 10,000 learners in Coconino County, and has become a vital part of the community. The College has trained 51% of all firefighters in Coconino County, 22% of all nurses and paramedics and 43% of all detention officers in the County. In addition, CCC is involved in many workforce development initiatives and programs. The incredibly successful CCC2NAU program, which currently serves 500 students, is growing each semester and makes transfer to Northern Arizona University seamless, with the end goal being more Coconino County residents with bachelor's degrees.
Currently the College has the lowest property tax rate in the state at just 33 cents for every $100.00 of assessed value. Conversely, CCC has the highest tuition of all community colleges in the state. That is necessary to help offset the low level of property tax revenue. Tuition was recently increased with the approval of the District Governing Board at the Collegeby $10.00 per credit hour to $85.00 per credit hour. The bill was written to create a long term, sustainable financial solution for the College because tuition increases will not be enough to meet community demand for services and may also become a burden for many students.
College representatives worked with legislators of both parties to get HB-2144 introduced in the House of Representatives, by Rep. Steven Court, Chairman of the Higher Education, Innovation and Reform Committee. The bill passed the House Higher Education Committee with amendments that limited the application of the provisions, but still met CCC needs. After the bill stalled in the House, key provisions of the proposal were added to House Bill 2407 in the Senate. The bill then passed through Senate Finance, Senate Rules, and Senate Caucus. The bill stalled before going to the Senate floor. Amendments to the proposal necessary to reach agreement with Senate leadership and to permit the bill to move to the Senate floor were not acceptable to the CCC leadership team.
With the end of the Regular session of the Legislature, no further action on the CCC proposal can occur this year. President of Coconino Community College, Leah L. Bornstein Ph.D. said; "we are disappointed that the bill did not pass this year, however we are encouraged that the bill went as far as it went before stalling. The legislative process is truly a marathon and not a sprint, especially on unique legislation like ours. At this point we need to look at our options and opportunities and how we might modify our direction."