FAQ’s about ASU:
Did voters reject ASU?
In November 2016, Mesa Voters turned down a .4 cent sales tax increase. Question 1 proposed to fund a broad range of City improvements, the majority of which were directed at public safety, including hiring new personnel, purchasing new equipment, and building new facilities. The balance of the funds would have been used on new parks, city-owned parking structures, improvements to city utilities and to support expanding higher education opportunities, including improvements to the city-owned campus of Benedictine University and construction of several new buildings for a downtown ASU campus. https://www.mesaaz.gov/home/showdocument?id=19662
Question 1 was not a referendum on whether voters valued public safety, parks, public utility infrastructure or even ASU. It asked Mesa voters if they wanted to raise the sales tax by .4 cents.
How is ASU coming to downtown Mesa if the sale tax increase failed?
In June 2017, the City conducted “Imagine Mesa,” a large-scale community engagement campaign. Through a series of forums and online engagement, Mesa residents were asked about their priorities and ideas for improving the community. Over 67,000 residents participated. The idea that garnered the largest support was to explore pursuing an ASU campus in downtown, without raising taxes. In response, the City approached ASU about a smaller presence, and they confirmed their interest. The City has funds set aside for economic development to help attract large employers and significant projects which will be used to construct the ASU building. The current ASU plan could not be placed on any ballot for voter approval without tying it to a tax or ordinance change. https://neighborland.com/ideas/mesa-az-to-bring-an-asu-campus-to
How is the project funded?
The project’s financing has evolved since a lease agreement was reached with ASU in June 2018. Originally, there was discussion about using the Enterprise Fund, the profit arm of the city-owned utility company. The project will now be funded through the Economic Development Fund which is reinvesting funds from land sales and the sales taxes and building permits from large commercial development projects. Many of the new commercial projects are directly related to the presence of ASU in downtown Mesa. https://www.eastvalleytribune.com/news/mesa-officials-detail-asu-campus-financing/article_dfcc1e14-6af2-11ea-bcd0-679e1bc8d5bd.html
Were my utility rates increased to pay for ASU?
No. The single ASU building did not require a utility rate increase and is not paid for with utility revenue. There was an increase in water rates a year before the ASU project was negotiated to cover the costs of new wastewater and water treatment plants, the most expensive capital projects ever in the City of Mesa. The fast-growing southeast region of Mesa was in desperate need of the plants which cost over $300 million and necessitated a slight increase in water rates. Mesa’s utility fees are still in line with our neighboring cities.
There was discussion early in the process about using revenue from the city-owned utility company but that is no longer the funding mechanism and utility rates are not linked in any way to the construction.
How much will the building cost?
The cost to the city is capped at $63.5 million and ASU is contributing over $20 million to construction of the city-owned building. Additionally, ASU will be responsible for any cost overruns as well as all the improvements and maintenance and will pay rent to the City of Mesa. Any future buildings will be constructed by ASU.
Are my taxes paying for ASU?
No. The City is using revenue from the sale of land in Pinal County and from the building permits and taxes on the large projects that have resulted from the announcement of ASU. The money is set aside in the Economic Development Fund to pay the annual payments on the bond debt until the building is paid for. It is projected that the direct economic impact of ASU will be many times the annual bond payment and that it will generate substantial revenue for the City.
What will be offered at ASU @ City Center?
ASU @ City Center will be a state-of-the-art building that will offer programs in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts in digital and sensory technology, experiential design, gaming, media arts, film production, and entrepreneurial development and support. https://azbigmedia.com/real-estate/commercial-real-estate/construction/asu-mesa-city-center-breaks-ground/