Tuesday, September 18, 2018

State Lands Project Breeds Hot Emotions

Emotions run 'hot'
Opposition to the proposed annexation and rezoning of "State Lands" were strongly stated at the Town Of Oro Valley neighborhood meeting on the project of September 13.  Watch one resident's comments on the project.

At that meeting, Oro Valley Planner Bayer Vella told the audience that the decision on the annexation and rezoning of this property would be the responsibility of the incoming town council.  His comment met with enthusiastic approval by attendees.

On Friday, in his "State of The Town" address, Mayor Hiremath confirmed that annexation and rezoning is up to the incoming council.

Source: takebackov.com

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mayor Hiremath's Final Address Presents His "Legacy of Leadership"

Outgoing Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath delivered his ninth and final "State Of The Town" address on Friday. The address, held at the El Conquistador, was sponsored by the Oro Valley Chamber Of Commerce.

The mayor themed this speech to present a "Legacy of Leadership" that he believes that he brought to Oro Valley.

"I want to talk to you about the legacy of leadership we have developed here in Oro Valley and how you should expect that type of leadership from all elected officials of who holds that office." The legacy: "Leadership is about making mindful decisions, though unpopular and then being able to withstand the criticism until success is achieved." Hiremath asserted that "Most people fail [to reach their goal] because they were not determined or they did not persevere... Successful leaders find their way around the obstacles.""

A packed room awaits Mayor Hiremath's remarks
The mayor presented the state of Oro Valley in the context of this leadership legacy.  2018 accomplishments include:
  • Two July sporting events  brought approximately $400,000 in revenue to the community
  • The improvements to the sporting fields that are currently in progress at Kreigh Park
  • The upcoming ribbon cutting on a phase of construction completion of Tangerine Road
  • An upcoming "community celebration"
  • A $2 million 2018 budget surplus
  • A video created by the Oro Valley Economic Development Department that depicts a life in the typical day of someone who lives and works in Oro Valley
  • "Simple View", locating its corporate headquarters in Oro Valley
According to the Mayor, Oro Valley's financial health has been strong: "We have completed every fiscal year in the black for the past seven years." He asserted that Oro Valley has built an outstanding team of the "best and the brightest" town employees. "Council is responsible for setting direction; but it is your town staff who make it happen." He lauded the town's executive leadership team: "Together we have built a house with a very strong foundation."

As the talk closed, the Mayor spoke emotionally. He thanked his parents, who, due to his Mothers' health, could not be there. Tearfully, he spoke: "It's tough not having them here. They are the ones who instilled in me at a very young age an obligation to make my surroundings better than when I arrived. That's exactly what I've been trying to do."

Friday, September 14, 2018

Pulse Of Oro Valley (Social Media Roundup)

We monitor comments on social media that are relevant to Oro Valley. We then select the ones we feel are most interesting and timely and post them for your reading. Note that we do not divulge the name of the author for privacy reasons.

This week, the transition of leadership is a common theme of some comments.
Hope for a smooth transition
"I think all Oro Valley residents would welcome a smooth transition as the town leadership changes in Oro Valley. I’m hopeful that Mayor Hiremath will arrange multiple meetings with incoming Mayor Joe Winfield and the new council members to plan the transition and address issues. As the mayor, I assume Hiremath can also direct the town’s paid staff primarily it’s manager, police chief, zoning board, etc. to cooperate with the new team. They need to provide all requested information and town records to the newly elected leadership. This will enable the newly elected leaders to do their homework and become better informed and prepared to lead our town. "

Forging a working relationship
"Obviously, the newly elected folks will want to discuss some issues with the outgoing council members for their thoughts and perspectives on various issues. More importantly, the new team needs forge a working relationship with the 3 council members who remain. Everyone understands that current leadership is in charge until the new elected folks are sworn in and take their offices. But as elected officials and professionals it would be so very helpful to the town and its citizens if they worked together.

To me working together also means not making any decisions with long term impact to the town, particularly on major zoning issues or the fate of the golf course and the community center. The people have voted and clearly expressed their desire for something other than the existing business as usual in Oro Valley."

Triaging Priorities
"I and most citizens know the town has a over 300 employees and a substantial operating budget and is generally well run. The new council needs to triage its priorities and focus attention on the real issues and concerns that got them elected. I’m not hearing about any hot issues with our excellent first responders, the water, town staff, etc. So I doubt the new team will be looking at office supply contracts or which town rooms need to be painted or refurbished. So the future of the golf courses and community center, the zoning and land use issues and economic development need to take center stage."

Thursday, September 13, 2018

New Oro Valley Book Out: "Claiming The Desert"

Oro Valley author James Williams has penned a book about Oro Valley's history. It's titled: "Claiming The Desert." The book is available on Amazon.com.

"Claiming The Desert"
details one hundred years of Oro Valley history, from 1865-1965.  The cost is $14.95 with all proceeds going to the Oro Valley Historical Society.

We have not read it yet. But we plan to do so.

We wonder: Does it contain a section on  Oro Valley's Catherine Reidy, Oro Valley's Rattlesnake Lady.  Watch the video about her here.

James tells us that there will be book signings in the area. We will be sure to keep you informed.

Here's the link for you to use if you want to donate to the historical society.

"Scan, Bag and Go" Comes To Oro Valley

If you don't like waiting in line at the grocery store to checkout, if you don't like to "slide and scan" your groceries at self-checkout, if you prefer to do your own bagging, then the Fry's grocery store in Rooney Ranch has something for you.

It's called: "Scan, Bag and Go." and, believe us, it's the fastest way to get in and out of the grocery store. And by the way, did we also tell you that it's fun? Did we you tell you that you can save money doing it?

The "Scan, Bag and Go" concept is so
simple that we wonder why it wasn't done long ago.

Here's how it works.

You scan each item you put in your grocery cart and you put that item in your tote. Then, when you've completed your trip, you go to the self checkout area. There, you point the little device you've been using to scan your items at a bar code just above the self-checkout screen. You press the "scan" button and your scans are downloaded to the self checkout machine. The payment process is the same as always. That's it! Essentially, you are  using your idle time while shopping to check yourself out.

You can use the self checkout unit regardless of the number of items you purchased since you've already scanned everything in and bagged everything before you got there.

The first three times you use "Scan, Bag and Go" you get five dollars off each order of $35 more.

Yes. They pay you to play with a scan device.

Now that's hard to beat.
ed note: The Rancho Vistoso Safeway removed self-checkout several years ago.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2018 Election In Pictures: "Sea Change"

"Sea Change"
The 2018 Oro Valley Mayoral Election was marked by a major swing in votes away from Mayor Hiremath. This downward swing was a continuation of what happened during the 2015 recall election, an election he won by a mere 400 plus votes.

From 2014, when he easily defeated his opponent, to 2018, when he was resoundingly defeated,  the vote swing away from Mayor Hiremath was more than 5,300 votes. That represents a "sea change" in the way voters perceived the Mayor.

One of the other takeaways from this chart is that Mayor Hiremath's cumulative vote margin in four elections was negative: -232 votes. Yes. Mayor Hiremath won three elections but lost the fourth by such a significant margin that it wiped out  all of his margins of previous election victories.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Watchdog Report: Fiscal Year 2017/18 Final Report

The fiscal year (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018) has ended and we now have the final numbers regarding the financial status of the Community Center and Golf Courses.

Community Center
The Community Center Fund (CCF) ended the year $74,010 in the red. This number includes the fact that your sales tax contribution for the year was $2,330,941. It also includes the annual $120,000 pay back to the General Fund (the Town Council borrowed $1.2 million from the General Fund in 2015 to start the Community Center Fund).

The Town fell well short of their desired capital outlay. They promised to spend $94,250 in capital improvements, but spent only $45,464. The Town has fallen short of expected capital outlay since the Community Center inception in May 2015, hence the $6 million dollar bond for improvements in the FY 2018/19 budget.

The Town’s losses (fitness/recreation) were $123,800 in FY 2017/18 and a total loss of $291,009 since inception in 2015. In other words, the Town’s losses in FY 2017/18 were almost half of their total losses since 2015. Is this the trend we desire?

• The CCF ended FY 2014/15 with $1,025,222. 

• It ended FY 2015/16 with $162,152.

• It ended FY 2016/17 with $97,156  (however, this was due to the Council transferring $350,000 from the General Fund to the CCF).

• And it has now ended FY 2017/18 at $74,010 in the red.  The trend is not going in the right direction.

The Overlook Restaurant lost $96,100 in FY 2017/18. This is $23,606 more than forecasted.

Golf Courses
Troon Golf lost $1,993,040 in FY 2017/18. This is $170,099 more than forecasted. Since the beginning of this debacle, your sales tax revenues diverted to this fund have been $7,067,867 and Troon has lost $7,536,042.

Adding the Town’s losses since 2015 ($291,009) with Troon losses since 2015 ($7,536,042) equals total losses of $7,827,051. This number is $759,184 more than the sales tax revenues ($7,067,867) that were supposed to support this misadventure.  Are the members really paying their share for a private course?

Member Dues

FY 2015/16 ended with $876,133

FY 2016/17 ended with $726,811

FY 2017/18 ended with $784,071

Although member dues were $57,260 higher in 2018 than 2017, the fiscal year began in July 2017 with $58,678 in member dues and ended the year in June 2018 with $52,388 in member dues.

Fresh eyes

This investment continues to be an eyesore on our books. Beginning in November, we will have a new Council majority. Let’s hope that fresh eyes and innovative ideas can stem these losses. You can be assured that I will continue to keep a close eye on this situation.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Mark your calendars

Tangerine State Land Rezoning
Neighborhood Meetings

This Thursday, September 13th
6:00 to 8:00 PM
Town Council Chambers

Next Thursday, September 20th
6:00 to 8:00 PM
Town Council Chambers

Please read the below Guest View for complete details on what is being proposed for this 885 acre parcel and why you should attend this meeting.

Guest View: Alyssa Page ~ More desert destruction on the horizon

The Town of Oro Valley is moving forward with extraordinary urgency regarding the State Trust Land (885 acres of pristine Sonoran Desert) that lies at the northwestern edge of Oro Valley. The reason for the urgency is a mystery, but here is what we know so far.

On August 28th, Primary Election Day, the Town of Oro Valley residents voted to replace the incumbent mayor and council with Joseph Winfield (mayor) and Joyce Jones-Ivey, Josh Nicolson and Melanie Barrett (town council). The newly elected officials ran on the platform of responsible development and improving compromise and balance between residents and developer interests.

The very next morning, August 29th, the Town staff were out pounding their notorious yellow “Public Meeting” signs into the ground announcing two neighborhood “public meetings” on September 13th and 20th regarding the State Land annexation.

Proposed Rezoning Area
(Source: Town of Oro Valley)
Why have the meetings within one week of each other? The typical purpose and timeline of neighborhood meetings is to gather information from the first meeting, then make alterations based on resident input which is then presented at the second meeting. Most neighborhood meetings are weeks apart or even a month or more apart. Seven days is highly unusual, and hardly allows for any changes or compromise.

Here is the potential real problem
Once two neighborhood meetings have been held, the minimum requirement has been met. At this point, the proposal moves forward to Planning and Zoning and then to the Town Council for approval.

Where is the real community outreach and compromise with the people who live around this area?

Real public input should include the following
After the two neighborhood meetings, there should be smaller group meetings with neighbors in each unique area; north, south, east, and west of the property. If that sounds like a lot of little meetings, that’s how many different and diverse neighborhoods there are around these 885 acres. All of these people will be affected by this rezoning and annexation. Therefore, each of these surrounding neighborhoods needs to be listened to individually. These meetings should all happen after the September 20th meeting after which we should gather together again for one or even two large neighborhood meetings, to finalize the compromises. That would be real public input and involvement.

Other concerning and mysterious details
In the original Tangerine State Land Rezoning and Annexation documents posted on orovalleyaz.gov the following dates were listed.

Meeting Dates-
1. First neighborhood meeting – September 13,
2. Second neighborhood meeting – September 20, 2018
3. Planning and Zoning Commission Hearing – October 8, 2018*
4. Town Council hearing – October 24, 2018*
(*Tentative and subject to change)

However, by Friday, August 31st, the Planning and Zoning and Town Council hearing dates were removed and replaced with “To be Determined.”

Is the staff and council’s intent to push this rezoning and future annexation through prior to the new council being sworn in in November?

What is being presented on September 13th
High-density Condo, Apartment (up to five stories high) and Townhome parcels. Upwards of 1500+ units and potentially over 1500+ single family homes on small 5500 sq ft lots. In all there will be 3000+ units, plus additional commercial sites all on 885 acres.

This is the largest rezoning and annexation in Oro Valley in over a decade. Let’s get this deal done right and not rush into rezoning deals that Oro Valley and her residents will later regret and resent.

Please come to both neighborhood meetings on September 13th and 20th. Your presence is needed.

Click HERE to read the Town notice of the two meetings.
Click HERE to read the project fact sheet.
Click HERE to read Tim Stellar's article in the Arizona Daily Star.  Read what Mayor Hiremath and Mayor-elect Joe Winfield have to say about this rezoning.

Alyssa Page is a wife, mother, writer, photographer and community activist. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a BFA in Photographic Design and a minor in Communications.