Like all Downtown Development Authorities, Morenci’s DDA operates by capturing the increases in the taxable value of all property within the DDA boundaries. When the value goes up, the increased tax revenue is diverted to the DDA instead of to the City of Morenci and other entities.
Stair District Library is located within the DDA boundaries. The library does not have a taxable value of its own, but the DDA is entitled to take a portion of the tax revenue the library would collect through a millage, if approved by voters.
We assume that voters choosing “yes” in the August election will expect their tax dollars to go to the library, not to the DDA. Morenci’s DDA board can make certain that happens by exempting the library from the tax capture plan.
The request for an exemption was lodged last week and the board was hesitant to follow through. Board members first want to consult with their attorney about the issue because they were told that if an exemption is made for the library, exemptions would then have to be made for any qualifying agency that made the request.
The library’s attorney who has been in similar situations around the state says that isn’t the case. A consultant that spoke at the library Saturday also said the DDA isn’t bound to that action.
An estimated $630 may not seem like much to quibble over, but it’s very important to the new library district with its finally-tuned budget.
When the DDA learns about its role in making exemptions, we hope it takes the same action that other DDAs around the state have taken: Let the library keep its revenue. That’s what voters would expect.