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Goldwater Sues to Stop Illegal Property Tax in Yuma County

December 14, 2023

If government in Arizona wants to raise taxes, it must hold an election to get voters’ approval. Yet for the third year in a row, the Yuma County Hospital District is trying to illegally sneak a new tax onto resident’s property tax bills—and the Goldwater Institute is suing to stop it.

The Yuma County Hospital District is a governmental body charged with certain oversight duties for the Yuma Regional Medical Center, including raising taxes for the facility. In June, the district sent its budget—including a new tax—straight to the Yuma County Board of Supervisors, along with a letter stating the board must approve the budget and impose taxes the district requested.

This is completely illegal. Arizona law allows special districts like the Yuma County Hospital District to impose property taxes only after obtaining voter approval for the tax. In fact, that’s not unusual in Arizona: many other laws protect taxpayers by telling the government that if it wants to impose a tax, it must first hold an election and obtain voter approval.

That’s why the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit today in Arizona Tax Court on behalf of Yuma resident and homeowner Rick Ogston. In its complaint, Goldwater argues that the district and the county had no legal authority to impose the tax without voter approval because the statute giving the district the power to tax makes clear that “[p]rior to the initial imposition of such a tax a majority of the qualified electors must approve such initial imposition.” A.R.S. § 48-1907(A)(6). That never happened, so the government has no authority to impose the tax.

The Goldwater Institute has worked hard to ensure that Arizona has some of the best taxpayer protections in the country. We won’t let the government use backroom maneuvers to get around those protections and take taxpayers’ hard-earned money without democratic accountability.

You can read more about our case here.

John Thorpe is a Staff Attorney at the Goldwater Institute.



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