[EDITORIALS] Central Arizona College, groundwater

EditorialCasa Grande Dispatch

The Central Arizona College board last week settled on a pay increase of 1 percent for employees and a tuition increase of $3 per credit. The board earlier had heard requests for wage increases of 4 percent for most groups, but the latest projection for a rise in the county’s total assessed valuation is less than 1 percent, meaning CAC’s options are very limited.

The decisions are appropriate in a slowly improving economy, in which property values also have been slowly improving. The normal lag in the assessment process is continuing to affect government revenues.

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A five-year delay in a state rule that would phase out groundwater extinguishment credits seems likely. That would give the Pinal Local Water Group and others time to come up with a compromise solution.

The credits can be sold to developers when farmland is retired, allowing use under state rules requiring proof of a water supply. Land is not affected while it is farmed, but a fear has arisen that phasing out the credits would cause farmers to retire the land and sell sooner rather than later, while the water credits were still substantial.

Ultimately, the solution will need some protection for groundwater supplies. But it is likely that a compromise will mean a better system than the current phase-out formula.

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