Saint Xavier Univ. to close Gilbert campus, leave taxpayers with huge bill

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Gilbert officials took out revenue bonds totaling $37 million to design and construct the campus. (Source: Saint Xavier University) Gilbert officials took out revenue bonds totaling $37 million to design and construct the campus. (Source: Saint Xavier University)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Chicago-based Catholic school is closing its satellite campus in Gilbert, leaving taxpayers on the hook for a pile of money.

The announcement comes just nine months after Saint Xavier University opened a taxpayer-funded $37 million building.[

RELATED: Saint Xavier University opening downtown Gilbert campus (April 1, 2015)

"The taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook in supporting private ventures like this; there's an inherent risk that I think is unavoidable," Gilbert Councilman Victor Petersen said.

He was one of two town leaders to vote against the project, warning the deal could come back and hurt the taxpayers.

Many of his Council colleagues heralded the university as a big economic win that would boost its downtown and spur more development.

Gilbert's annual State of the Town video featured Mayor John Lewis cutting the ribbon at the university's opening ceremony in August.

In that same video, Councilman Eddie Cook stood in front of the school's new  building and said, "I love being part of new projects that will help shape Gilbert's future"

It looks like this deal will to more harm than good to the town's future.

RELATED: Catholic university closing campus built with taxpayer money

The deal between Gilbert and the university called for the school to reimburse the town for construction costs over the term of a 15-year contract.

Saint Xavier will pay a $250,000 penalty for breaking that agreement.

"I think some people could analyze whether or not we should have have put a bigger penalty there," Petersen said.

A spokeswoman for the university, Karla Thomas, said the school will close after the fall semester. She added school never intended to hurt the local taxpayers.

Petersen said the best scenario for the town and its taxpayers is to find another tenant for the building as soon as possible.

As of June 1, there was no mention of the imminent closure on the university's website.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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