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Regents try to reign in university development

Marina Heights, along Tempe Town Lake, at nighttime. /Photo by Robertbody / Wikimedia Commons

 

By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

The Arizona Board of Regents recently adopted new rules that aim to reign in real estate deals done by universities, just as Arizona State University has begun to move forward on several big projects.

ASU has been criticized in the past for the properties it owns being exempt from property taxes with some critics, like Arizona Tax Research Association’s Sean McCarthy, claiming its a way to shield private businesses from property taxes.

The university has defended its actions, saying that many of the developments aid in its educational goals, and it must seek new ways to do that since the state legislature hasn’t seen fit to increase state funding for higher education.

The new rules state that universities must seek ABOR approval on long-term commercial leases, optimize the value of the property and document economic benefit. Further, leases cannot be adopted “if the primary purpose is to remove private land or real property improvement from property tax rules.”

At least one of ABOR’s properties may already be in violation of one of those new rules.

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