A group billing itself as the Central Arizona College Recall Committee filed an application Wednesday to recall CAC Governing Board president Rita Nader, who represents District 4.
District 4 hugs Pinal County’s southern and western boundaries and includes Saddlebrooke, Red Rock, Arizona City, Chuichu, part of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Ak-Chin Village and Maricopa. Nader lives in Casa Grande but represents the other area because new districts were created after the 2010 census.
Pinal County recorder Virginia Ross said via email the group has until Nov. 28 to collect 1,326 valid signatures from District 4 in order to move the recall effort forward.
According to state law, if the group collects the needed signatures by the deadline and Nader does not resign within five days, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors will call for a special election to be held at the next consolidated election date.
The current term for Nader, a longtime board member, expires at the end of 2016.
The application for recall was signed by recall committee treasurer Richard Brinkley and chairman Dick Hudgins.
Brinkley said Friday in a telephone interview that Nader led the Governing Board in attempting to pass a sizable increase in the property tax rate.
A majority of speakers at a public hearing on the tax increase spoke against the plan.
“When I walked up to talk to Rita Nader afterward, I said, ‘Rita, this is too much in a recessionary period,’” Brinkley said. “She just looked at me and said, ‘We need this tax increase.’ I just replied, ‘Need is an interpretation, not a fact.’”
At its July meeting, the CAC Governing Board did not approve a 34 percent tax increase that it had favored. Rather, it passed a budget with a 17.4 percent primary tax-rate increase. Board member Debra Banks of San Tan Valley did not support the increase.
“So we have to remove the leader, which was Rita, who pushed the board to pass it,” Brinkley said.
“Her shocking fiscal mismanagement of CAC and excessive length of stay on the CAC board have made Ms. Nader oblivious to the real world effects of an exorbitant property tax increase on her constituents,” the petition states.
“Pinal County taxpayers need real world management experience in CAC, not academic theories and postulates. It is time for Nader to go,” says the petition.
Brinkley said the group can probably get more than 1,300 signatures in Saddlebrooke alone and will have more than enough to force the recall.
“Who was asleep at the switch?” he continued in an email. “Where was the leadership? The recession was certainly not a secret. Staffing up empty buildings is a waste of money. There is no compelling reason to hit taxpayers with a 19.6 percent property tax (combined rate) increase during a recession. This is a complete abrogation of leadership.”
Nader could not be reached for comment.
Administrators had told the board in May that the 34 percent increase was needed because the county’s assessed value had fallen from $2.5 billion to less than $2 billion, state funding had dropped from $6 million to $2 million a year, and the college had to open its two new campuses.
After the board halved the tax-rate increase, administrators postponed the opening of the new San Tan campus until January 2014, went to a four-day work week, reduced college services and took other cost-containment measures.