That post was penned by Mike Zinkin. If you have been around the Oro Valley for 20+ years, you probably know that Mike and I have had a few differences over the years. What may surprise you is that in the past couple of years, we have discovered that we agree on many issues. In fact, he and I have been featured jointly on the Jim Horn’s Oro Valley Podcast” in recent weeks. So at this time, I want to ‘dovetail’ on some of his commentary.
In the past 5 years, the governance of Oro Valley has taken a well oiled financial machine, the envy of the vast majority of the municipalities in the United States and placed it on the road to financial failure. Unfortunately we have now moved into the fast lane of that road.
The current Town Manager’s proposed FY 2023/2024 budget is nothing more than documenting the stated desires of the Town Council in writing, and then assigning a cost to it. It does not address the needs of the town. Rather, it reflects the personal desires of the town council members. A “splash pad” did not come from the residents. it came from Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett. A “Pump Track” did not come from the Town residents. It came from, Councilman Josh Nicholson.
About 3 or 4 months ago you were given a clear ‘red flag message’ when the Director of Public Works, Paul Kessler, announced at a Town Meeting that the estimated cost of the ‘projects’ on the Town Council wish list, which was to be paid for by that $50 million non-resident approved bond, was closer to $100 million. How does Winfield and crew, make a $50 million error on a $50 million bond? The answer to that question is simple. It’s fiscal irresponsibility!!
I have spent a great deal of time examining the Oro Valley proposed FY 2023/2024 revenue budget. It’s available on the Town website for all to see.
Here are some direct quotes from the Revenue Summary:
“Local sales tax is expected to show gains over the FY 22/23budget, but a slight decline when compared to with the FY 22/23 actual revenue.”
Translation: Our sales tax revenue is going down
“This is largely attributable to construction sales tax, as permitting activity has slowed from the highs we saw during the COVID -19 pandemic.”
Translation: We are building fewer homes. Where have you heard that before? Yours truly!!!
“The Town is projecting 119 single family residential (SFR) permits for FY 23/24 compared to the 171 SFR permits budgeted for FY 22/23. Commercial development revenues are expected to decrease based on projected building activity.”
Translation: “Commercial follows residential.” We have no residential growth therefore we have no commercial growth.
Now my friends, is the 1600 hundred pound elephant in the room
The current Town Council majority has not approved a single residential development in Oro Valley (with the exception of a 64 +/- project that was already approved by Pima County before it was annexed)! No new commercial development has been approved in the same period. The exception to the latter statement is the Marketplace re-development which they gutted for no logical reason. The 2018 campaign promise of a “Moratorium on Growth”, which was later denied by Melanie Barrett, has become a reality.
From the time of Council approval, it takes an average of 3 years for projects to start generating construction sales tax. Construction sales tax is currently running about $6,000,000 a year. Translation: This Town Council majority has created an eight year void in the Construction Sales Tax pipeline. That’s $6 million a year that is going away for a minimum of 8 years. And that money is not replaceable.
Prepare yourselves for some very lean years in our immediate future if we don’t come up with a way to generate more income for the Town.
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Don Cox moved to Oro Valley in 1997. He has served on various town committees including an extended stint as a chair and vice chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He is a member of the Oro Valley Optimist Club and the Arizona Youth Partnership.