Association Education Topic: Property Taxes

As mentioned in an email to faculty, the Faculty Association will be sending periodic educational messages.  This first one pertains to where MCCCD gets the bulk of its funding: property taxes.

Most people are completely mistaken about how our property taxes work.  A general misunderstanding of how something works leads to faulty decision-making, so let’s explore the topic together.

Rate vs Levy

In most of the country, property taxes are set as a percentage of the value of the property. You assess a 0.2% property tax against a $150,000 home, and that collects 0.002 x $150,000 = $300. The downside of this approach is that property taxes swing wildly when property values change. If your home value falls to $100,000, your tax bill falls to 0.002 x $100,000 = $200, and the money collected by the government agency falls along with it. A property value increase reverses the situation, making government agencies flush with cash and increasing tax costs for homeowners, even potentially causing them to lose their homes because they can’t pay their taxes.

Arizona does things differently, and smarter. Instead of setting a tax rate, we assess a tax levy. Imagine that collectively the Maricopa government agencies need $500 million to operate this year. The county determines the cumulative value of all properties in Maricopa county to be $400 billion. Dividing $500 million by $400 billion gives 0.125% as the property tax rate that would generate $500 million in property taxes, and that becomes the property tax rate for all Maricopa properties for the year. If next year’s property values increase to $500 billion but the desired levy stays at $500 million, then the property tax rate that generates $500 million falls to 0.1% ($500 million divided by $500 billion). From an individual’s perspective, if your property values change the same way as the average in the county, your property tax bill doesn’t budge. Maybe you had a $200,000 home before, and you were paying 0.125% of $200,000, or $250 in property taxes. Now, your home value is $250,000, but the property tax rate automatically fell to 0.1%, meaning your property tax bill is $250,000 x 0.001 = $250, the same as before.

Market Value vs Assessed Value

Another wrinkle to know: Maricopa property tax rates are set as a percentage of the “assessed value” of the property, not the market value. This quirk explains why on paper Maricopa’s property taxes look much more expensive than they actually are. Our property tax rate in Maricopa county averages 6.1% of assessed value, which sounds incredibly painful. If you have a $200,000 home, a 6.1% property tax rate sounds like the county collects $12,200 per year in property taxes! It’s no wonder that people are up in arms about how we need to get our taxes lower. However, that 6.1% property tax rate is against the assessed value of the property, and the assessed value is lower than the market value. Specifically, Maricopa county sets the “assessment ratio” for owner-occupied residential property at 10% of the Full Cash Value (i.e., market value). So, our property tax rate is 6.1% of the assessed value, meaning 6.1% of 10% of the market value — in other words, Maricopa’s current property tax rate is actually 0.61% of the market value of a home. That means that the person with the $200,000 home is actually paying just $1,220 in property taxes per year. Also note that 0.61% is one of the lowest property tax rates in the nation — the national average is 1.07%.

Property Taxes vs MCCCD Tax

Of course, you should realize that MCCCD is just one of many different municipal government organizations that collect property taxes in Maricopa county. That 0.61% is the sum total of the property taxes of all the county’s different government organizations. Annually, MCCCD currently collects 0.11112% of the market values of properties in Maricopa County as a “primary levy” (the main and ongoing part), plus an additional 0.01145% as a “secondary levy” (exclusively for paying off our existing bonds), giving a total tax rate of 0.12257% — so on a $200,000 home, MCCCD’s tax levy collects $245.14 per year.

MCCCD Tax Levy Increases

Now, let’s talk about tax increases. Each year, MCCCD has the right (but not the obligation) to permanently increase our tax levy by up to 2%. If we choose to increase the levy, then the total tax dollars we collect will increase by 2%. Since our levy is currently $541 million, a 2% increase would boost MCCCD’s revenues by $10.8 million per year. (If we choose NOT to increase the levy, we retain the right to permanently increase property taxes later on to make up the shortfall. That accumulated total is called our “tax levy capacity.” Over the years, we have not taken full advantage of our right to boost the property tax rate; as a result, we have built up a tax levy capacity of $67.8 million, meaning that at any point, our Governing Board could choose to permanently boost our annual property tax revenue by $67.8 million.)

Many Arizonans vehemently oppose MCCCD raising property taxes on the grounds that if the District exercises its right to raise property taxes by 2%, then someone who owned a $200,000 home would have to pay an extra $4,000 per year just to pay our colleges. As you probably could have guessed, this line of reasoning is massively, breathtakingly, incredibly wrong. Looking above, you can see that our current property tax rate on a $200,000 home collects $245.14 per year. If we increased our levy by 2%, the total amount collected would rise by 2% per year from every property in Maricopa — for that homeowner, their property tax payment to MCCCD would rise to $250.04. In other words, if we increased the levy by 2%, the owner of a $200,000 property would have to pay an extra $4.90 per year in property taxes to fund the change.

New Construction

Lastly, let’s consider new construction. When new property gets built, that actually DOES increase the property taxes collected. The County Assessor’s office establishes the value of all properties in the county as of the previous January 1st to determine the net assessed value of all property in the county. Then, in August, the tax rate gets set for the next year. That means that all construction that occurs during this window doesn’t get calculated into the determination of the property tax rate, but the same tax rate gets applied to that new construction. As a result, MCCCD increases its tax levy by about $12-$16 million per year simply by collecting the standard tax rate on those new properties. Barring an actual increase in our property tax rate, this is the only way for MCCCD to actually boost our property tax revenue.

A few references for you, if you’re interested:

SmartAsset’s page on Arizona Property Taxes

Arizona-eHomes guide to Property Taxes in Arizona

AZGolfHomes has a detailed primer on taxes and timing

Actual tax levies for Maricopa County by year

The Faculty Association thanks you all for a successful membership drive


It delights me to report the success of this year’s membership drive. Once again, a strong majority of our Residential Faculty continue to stand together to help fight for students, faculty, staff, and our community. With your help, the Faculty Association will continue to promote student success, shared governance, workplace democracy, and academic freedom. We want to thank those who joined us by becoming members, and those who renewed their long-standing memberships. We also want to thank those who volunteered during the membership drive, shared the good work of the Faculty Association with their colleagues, and made the benefits of membership clear.

Together, we will continue to advocate for the conditions and resources necessary to maintain a work environment that will allow us to provide a safe, healthy, and effective education for every student in our community. Together, we will continue to support the election of pro-education Governing Board members who understand that attractive employment opportunities allow us to hire high-quality employees, and high-quality employees create a worthwhile education for our students. Together we will continue to make MCCCD the best version of itself.

If you missed the opportunity to join with your fellow faculty in promoting this ongoing endeavor for excellence, don’t worry — it’s not too late. You can always join us by going to the Faculty Association website and navigating to the membership page. While there, feel free to browse through the available content. We have pages for:

  • About MCCFA”: information about your elected representatives, the rules governing the Faculty Association, and our rights and responsibilities under the Faculty Agreement.
  • Membership”: how to join the Association and the benefits you get from joining.
  • FacPAC”: the political arm of the Faculty Association that uses member contributions to fight for MCCCD at the ballot box. (Note: no Faculty Association dues are used by the FacPAC.)
  • Faculty Foundation”: the charitable arm of the Faculty Association that can turn your donations into emergency funds for desperate students…and then repay those funds as a state tax credit for you!
  • News & Media”: a repository for the Faculty Association’s public communications and event announcements.

One last bit of news: very soon, the Faculty Association will begin its “Association Education” series. These messages will provide information on confusing or commonly misunderstood facets of MCCCD in an effort to help pull back the curtain and demystify our organization. Watch for the first one on the topic of property tax rates and the operating budgets of the Maricopa Community Colleges.

Thank you all for your ongoing support of the Faculty Association. We are stronger when we all stand together. With you, we are all one step closer to achieving our goals.

Sasha Radisich, Faculty Association President

Governing Board Address 10/26/21

Good evening, everyone.

Last month I shared with you some of the ways that faculty are helping the District to achieve its goals. I talked about creating new baccalaureate degrees, operationalizing the new Faculty Agreement, and implementing Guided Pathways. These initiatives are big, bold, new, and important, and they will change how Maricopa operates for years to come. However, in discussing how faculty help Maricopa achieve its goals, there was one goal that I skipped over. The goal I failed to mention is not big, or bold, or new, but it is important. The goal I skipped over was “educating students.”

Leaving that goal out felt like a big oversight on my part. In trying to understand how I could have missed “educating students” in my list of recent faculty achievements, I was reminded of the following parable told by celebrated author David Foster Wallace: ‘There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”’

Wallace meant that the most obvious and important aspects of our lives are often hard to remember — they’re so ever-present that they blend into the background. For faculty, teaching is our water: it’s not so much “what we do” as it is “who we are.”

Now while faculty are constantly teaching, the WAY that we teach is far from constant. We continually strive to hone our craft and improve our ability to convey knowledge to our students. Even in fields with long histories, today’s classes differ strikingly from the same courses taught in semesters past. To illustrate how our faculty keep their classes new and relevant, I want to discuss just one example tonight: the New Media Lab Experience at MCC, run by Dr. Eddie Webb.

As members of our Governing Board, some of you are quite familiar with this space, since you’ve had the opportunity to work with Dr. Webb on podcasts. The primary focus of the New Media Lab Experience is to welcome students of all classes to an open computer lab where they can learn new technologies and collaborate with other students to create multimedia projects. The lab teaches students how to use innovative styles of communicating, such as documentary filmmaking, graphic design, and audio podcasting. Additionally, so far Dr. Webb and his team have trained 76 faculty members to produce multimedia projects.

The New Media Lab Experience teaches students how to use industry-standard software and hardware to help them modernize the written word. The process prepares them to be competent and highly sought-after players in the ever-growing field of digital communication. Now, make no mistake: the work these students do moves far beyond “arbitrary projects for the sake of learning the technology.” The New Media Lab Experience prides itself on emphasizing novel research, meaningful scholarship, and team-building. Before they are allowed to even touch a camera to record their project, each of these students must complete at least six weeks of focused research.

When students join this program they begin by organizing into four research teams, each conducting both archival and original research centered in four main areas of study: historical overview, facts and data, analysis and discussion, and findings and recommendations. First, the teams convene a conference to choose a joint topic to research. The students then collaborate to propose a framework, including a community statement, two research questions, and four research goals. All of their research is shared across teams using high-tech tools like Google Docs, Excel spreadsheets, and a Spark page. At the same time, the students create a business plan that includes organizing video production teams and marketing teams. In the end, by engaging with these projects at every step of the way, the students find their own voices and learn to use them in ways that are new, creative, and culturally relevant, all while fostering a learning environment that is fiercely collaborative and engaging.

The New Media Lab Experience is a next-generation program, where the next generation of students learns next-generation tools to communicate with the next generation. The times, they are a-changin’, and you can rest assured that Maricopa’s curriculum is changing right along with them. Thanks to our faculty and staff working hard to keep up with change, our students will never fall behind.

Thank you for your time.


Governing Board Address 9/28/21

Good evening, everyone.

Have you noticed that MCCCD is a busy place these days? Maricopa continues to work on implementing Guided Pathways, on operationalizing the brand-new Faculty Agreement, on centralizing IT services to save money and avoid redundancy, and on retooling the enrollment process to make it faster and more user-friendly. Additionally, we are also unveiling the District’s three strategic priorities and launching our new four-year degree programs. And on top of that, we’re pursuing the Chancellor’s nine Governing Board goals for the year. Whew!

Well, tonight I want to update you on how the faculty are trying to move some of these initiatives forward for our District.

While we’re just beginning to craft our new baccalaureate programs, it’s already clear that faculty will be heavily involved in every stage of the process: we have faculty on the steering committee, faculty on the college recommendation committees, and faculty Instructional Councils ready to formulate the plans to get these programs to launch. What’s more, faculty are chomping at the bit to engage in the process — knowing full well that it takes a massive effort to roll out an entire four-year degree program, the most common feedback I’ve heard from faculty members is raw enthusiasm to dive right into this brand-new and long-awaited expansion of our mission. Additionally, we agree with the District leadership’s approach of moving carefully enough to get it right from the very beginning so that our students can extract the maximum benefit from these degrees. It seems clear that the faculty will be eager partners in this ongoing effort for many years to come.

Another important project is the rollout of our brand-new Faculty Agreement. After a few years of intense effort, this document is decidedly a “beta version,” but because of the skill and dedication of the drafting team we have a higher-quality initial document than any reasonable observer could have anticipated. Nonetheless, it is THE most significant policy change for the faculty in decades. Well, the good news is that we’re successfully adjusting to this new ruleset. As I mentioned last time, over the summer the Faculty Executive Council held a “book club” to bring faculty leadership up to speed on the contents of the new document. Now, those faculty leaders are extending their efforts by hosting additional “book clubs” for interested faculty across the entire District. Faculty are also finalizing their new “department charters” to align with requirements introduced in the Faculty Agreement, and we are deciding how to parcel out supervision work and pay in accordance with new Faculty Agreement guidelines. Suffice it to say that while this document has caused massive changes to every aspect of faculty life, we are rising to the occasion and making all the necessary adjustments.

Of the District’s major initiatives, Guided Pathways is the longest-running, and also the closest to completion. The goal of Guided Pathways is supremely student-oriented: to help each student find the classes that lead to their chosen goals and to provide them with the 360-degree wrap-around support necessary to let them reach those goals. Faculty have been crafting the “pathways” part of Guided Pathways for a few years now — setting up semester-by-semester guides for students in a chosen degree path. Now, these guides are living documents needing frequent adjustment in response to new innovations and discoveries, not to mention requirement alterations by our local instructional councils, by national education councils, by certification boards, and by transfer partners. That’s why this fall we have 18 separate teams working to either refine existing pathways or create brand new ones in programs ranging from Commercial Real Estate to Kubernetes.

On the “guided” side of Guided Pathways, we’re unveiling the District’s new “First Year Student Experience”: that’s our name for a suite of support structures to give our students the knowledge, skills, and habits necessary to succeed in college…and beyond. The First Year Student Experience includes gateway courses, enhanced advising, co-curricular experiences, career exploration, and much more.

By putting all of these pieces together, our Guided Pathways work is revolutionizing our student experience, so much so that the rest of the educational world is taking notice: in addition to a forthcoming academic publication summarizing our work, four separate community college districts have asked our faculty to come and present about these efforts so that they can try to follow in our footsteps.

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once wrote that “the only constant in life is change.” In Maricopa, we’re constantly experiencing change. Luckily, our faculty, staff, and administration have learned to embrace it. This year, we will once again face a wide array of changes that will challenge everything about how we function as a system, and once again our employees are not only willing but EXCITED to rise to the challenge and to ensure that our students get the highest-quality experience that we can provide. After having seen how their dedication and skill have transformed our District so far, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thank you for your time.


The Faculty Association, our past, and our future


Crazy times, eh?

Over the last few years, we’ve experienced a lifetime worth of tumult: nationwide protests, two presidential impeachments, a global pandemic. In our quiet little corner of the world, we’ve seen our own share of turbulence: a Governing Board President ousted mid-term, a Board vote requesting the resignation of one of its own, the replacement of our decades-old Residential Faculty Policies with a brand-new Faculty Agreement.

Despite the bumpiness of our journey, from a professional perspective, the faculty have had a huge series of gains over the last few years, including:

  • A transformational 2020 Governing Board election where the Faculty Association’s advocacy helped to secure a pro-education majority
  • A 4% raise (the largest increase to the salary scale in over a quarter of a century)
  • A plan by HR, District leadership, and the Governing Board to implement similarly large salary scale increases in each of the next four years
  • The creation of a new District-wide Shared Governance Committee, along with a commitment to embrace the principles of shared governance throughout the organization
  • The creation of a new District-wide Committee on Academic Freedom, along with a reaffirmation of the principles of academic freedom (following a successful lawsuit by the Faculty Association to protect it)

What will the next few years bring?

With three Governing Board seats up for election in November 2022, the next chapter of the story remains unwritten. Will we ride this momentum and secure further victories for the students, the District, and the employees? Or will we experience setbacks, ceding ground to the relentless push for budget cuts and neutered employee organizations? The stakes remain high: our allies advocate for predictable salary advancement and a meaningful employee voice in District leadership while our enemies attack our pensions, introduce bills to allow guns on campus, and undermine academic freedom and workplace democracy throughout the state.

The Faculty Association fights all of these battles on behalf of our whole community — faculty, staff, and students alike. When it succeeds, everyone benefits; when it fails, everyone suffers. While we cannot know the outcome of these battles in advance, we do know the most important factor affecting the chance of success:

It’s you.

The strength of the Faculty Association comes from its members — we are stronger when we all stand together. Larger membership gives greater weight to our message by demonstrating that we speak on behalf of the group. It also gives us the resources we need to advocate effectively.

Our fight is your fight. Our success is your success. Our story is your story. Join us so that we have the ability to keep winning victories for you.

The majority of Maricopa’s faculty are already members of the Faculty Association, and we sincerely thank all of you for your support. If you have not had the opportunity to join or renew your membership, please consider standing with your colleagues. To join the Faculty Association or to renew your membership (for anyone not currently paying by ACH Direct Debit or credit card), please go to → Become a Member → and select your preferred dues payment schedule and method. You may select from:

  • Annual = one-time payment (ACH Direct Debit, Credit Card, or Check)
  • Quarterly = four payments (ACH Direct Debit, Credit Card)
  • Monthly = twelve payments (ACH Direct Debit, Credit Card)

Additionally, if you wish to join or renew your membership via personal check, click on Pay by Check and send your completed check via USPS to:

Maricopa Community Colleges Faculty Association
520 East Southern Avenue
Tempe, AZ 85282

See Membership Benefits to learn more about membership benefits of being a Faculty Association member.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do in support of our students and each other.

Sasha Radisich, Faculty Association President