Friday, May 22, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Zinkin promotes Oro Valley

Council Member Mike Zinkin recently completed a video extolling the virtues of Oro Valley. He prepared the video for the National League of Cities and Towns. Mike is Oro Valley's representative to the group. Watch the video. Tell us what you think.

Family fun passes for the Oro Valley Aquatic Center now available

Oro Valley, Arizona (May 14, 2015) - Do you want to save big money this summer and have fun at the coolest pool in town? Then be sure to purchase your Oro Valley Aquatic Center Family Fun Pass. The passes admit a family up to six, and are valid from Memorial Day (May 25) through Labor Day (Sept. 7). Cost for Oro Valley residents is $120; non-resident cost is $150. That's three months of unlimited access for the entire family! (The daily drop-in rate for a family up to six is $15.)

Visitors will enjoy an interactive splash pad, 130-foot water slide, 25-yard heated recreation pool, 50-meter heated competition pool, four springboard diving boards, family changing rooms, shaded bleachers, rest areas and a concession stand.

Passes can be purchased at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center, located in James D. Kriegh Park, 23 W. Calle Concordia. (Source: Oro Valley Press Release)

Free drive-in movie at the driving range Saturday night

"Oro Valley, Arizona (May 13, 2015) - Join your friends and neighbors for a FREE Drive-in Movie on the Driving Range! On Saturday, May 16 at approximately 7 p.m., the Town of Oro Valley will show a family-friendly (rated G or PG) movie on a giant, inflatable screen right on the driving range at the Oro Valley Community and Recreation Center, 11555 N. La Cañada Drive. You are welcome to drive in your golf cart or bring blankets and chairs to sit on the lawn. Food and beverages will be available for purchase." (Source: Oro Valley Press Release)

Is Oro Valley a speed trap?

KVOA interviewed Oro Valley Police Department Lt. Olsen. The article posted is that Oro Valley is not a speed trap.

According to Olson,"On average, we're writing about five speeding tickets a day. You know, over the course of 365 days, and if you consider that Oracle Road has about 50,000 vehicles traveling up and down it each day, that's one speeding ticket for every 10,000 cars. (Source: KVOA)

The article is based entirely on what the department says.

Commenting on the article, Oro Valley resident Chuck Davis wrote: "In this case, perception is reality. people believe it so its true. DO NOT SPEED IN ORO VALLEY. As a resident, I think that is a good thing."

Oro Valley to hold open house event in recognition of Building Safety Month

"Oro Valley, Arizona (May 20, 2015) - On Thursday, May 21, 3 - 5 p.m., the Oro Valley Development and Infrastructure Services Department will host a Building Safety Month Open House. The event, which is free to the public, will be held in Town Hall Council Chambers, 11000 N. La Cañada. Cake and refreshments will be served.

Members of the community are invited to stop by and meet Oro Valley building safety staff, share messages of support and learn about the services provided by the Town's building safety inspectors."(Source: Oro Valley Press Release)

Very Small Bits
  • The Oro Valley Community Center sign was ordered on April 15 from territorial sign company. Oro Valley paid $16,571.
  • The permanent sign for Naranja Park should go up within a few days.
  • The mold found in the occupied area of the community center is 1 square foot in size
  • Visit Tucson markets to the spanish speaking market at Vamos a Tucson
  • Only one Oro Valley resident spoke at Wednesday's public hearing on the Oro Valley 2015-16 budget.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Budget 2015-16; Oro Valley Planned Spending Exceeds Planned Revenues by 4.5%. Spend Up 28% in 2 years

Tonight, the Oro Valley Town Council will hold a public hearing on the 2015-16 town manager's recommended budget ("TMRB") of about $120mil.

Oro Valley's budget is up 28% in two years
The TMRB is $119.7 million. This is 12% more than this year's budget of $107mil. That budget was an increase of 14% from the prior year. In 2 years, the budget has grown 28%. The Oro Valley budget averaged about $95 million from 2012-2014.

The budget is not balanced from a revenue minus spending perspective
The town considers a budget to be balanced when the initial cash balance plus revenues equals the ending cash balance plus spending. That calculation includes both the opening and closing cash balance.

"The Town has historically included all resources available to set our spending cap to ensure that we have these funds budgeted in case Town Council authorizes their use during the year. In addition, by budgeting all sources, including fund balance, we avoid possible claims that we are 'hiding' money'." (Source: Oro Valley Communications Administrator Misti Nowak)

The TMRB is not balanced from a recommended revenue minus expenditure perspective. The recommended expenditure budget is about $84 million. This is $3.4 million more than the anticipated revenue budget.

Analyzing Oro Valley's budget in complicated 

Analyzing the Oro Valley proposed budget is not easy. This is because Oro Valley has 24 different funds. Each fund has its own budget.

One has to analyze the recommended budgets of a number of funds in order to assess town operations (see right panel).

Complicated? You bet. Here's our quick peek.

There are 5 major sources of Oro Valley revenues.
Revenues from sales and other taxes, the State of Arizona, charges for services, grants, and water sales are 83% of Oro Valley's TMRB revenues.

Budgeted revenues are based on the assumption of "modest economic growth." The budget anticipates modest commercial growth: "We expect this to be very slow in the short term and gradually increase as more homes are added to the community."(TMRB p i and ii)

The revenue budget was adjusted downward after the issuance of the TMRB because one of two significant projects included in making this budget estimate, the new K-5 elementary school in Rancho Vistoso, was deferred to next year by the Amphi School District. This reduced TMRB budgeted revenues by $420,000.

Spending is primarily for operations
From an overall perspective, there are four components of Oro Valley's planned spending. Day-to-day operations are two-thirds of this. Capital improvements are a bit over a quarter. The rest is to pay debt.

Oro Valley continues to make a major investment in its town employees
Last year, the town granted one-time pay increase adjustments plus a merit compensation increase to town employees.

"The FY 2015/16 Recommended Budget continues the commitment to recognize the efforts of our Town employees with capacity included of approximately $580,000 for public safety employee step increases and up to a 4% performance merit increase for non-public safety employees."

Town Manager Caton states in the TMRB that these increases are necessary in order to keep employee pay competitive. Caton asserts that increases avoid the employee turnover cost of hiring and training new employees.

The community center has an $8 million budget impact
"In 2015/16, the largest addition to this area is the Community and Recreation Center. This is a new division within the Parks and Recreation Department and adds over $8 million in operational and capital expenses and accompanying revenues of over $7.4 million, including the 0.5% dedicated sales tax revenues of $2 million. These operations will be accounted for in a new fund, the Community Center and Golf Fund." (TMRB p vi)

Without the community center, the TMRB would be about $112mil. The increase over prior year would be about $5mil. The percent increase would be 4.5%.

Want to learn more about the TMRM? Access it here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Heather's Corner: Oro Valley Artist Wendy Timm: A Most Connected Soul With Nature

There is something to be said about those whom have a special connection with nature. Almost a sixth sense and certainty about their place in the world. But not everyone can harness the stillness to soak in all that surrounds them; in this case, the desert, the mountains, and critters of Oro valley, and in return find creative inspiration. You are about to discover an artist who does exactly that.

Originally from Wisconsin, Wendy Timm received a B.F.A. in Art Education from the University of Arizona. She has taught public school art education for K-12, programs for Pima County Parks and Recreation, and at Pima Community College. She credits her sense of humor and love of nature and animals for her imagery and no doubt they are harmoniously combined in her pieces. It wasn't until she bought an acre of land in Oro Valley, however, that she "really had the opportunity to become unified with the desert life around" her.
Wendy with at tiny female Quail she rescued

Her resident studio she calls, "Wicked Wind Studios," is where she specializes in one-of-a kind hand-built raku, stoneware pottery, tiles, ornaments, and sculptures. Twice yearly, in April and December, she holds open studios, where collectors can admire exhibits with a showing of her latest works. Admirers are also encouraged to investigate the winding trails of her exquisite gardens with the strong likelihood of stumbling upon hidden sculptured treasures and even one or two desert dwellers she welcomes with open arms, literally.

When not creating as an artist, you can find Wendy picking prickly pear fruit for teas, rescuing wildlife, and enjoying the sights and sound of Oro Valley, as just an all around nature enthusiast.

We asked her about her strong connection to nature and what Oro Valley offers in terms of inspiration.

"It may be hard for me to explain but when I look out in the yard I do not just see the multiple varieties of cacti, trees, and shrubs. I see things not only in context of art elements and principles of design, I also have become a student of their biology. The play of light, the incredible textures, the subtle hues draw you in but I also love the planting, the nurturing, and the gardening involved.

My yard is a certified wildlife habitat and I certainly have always been an animal lover. The first javelina and desert cottontail sculptures I created were back in 1991 and I had only photos to base my work on. Now the subjects of my work live around me, and at times, with me. Though I have many ideas and designs that are not desert related the heart and soul of my sculptural work is inspired from the beauty and energy that surround me here at my Oro Valley home/studio."

Although we missed the Spring open house, I think we could all benefit from being in the presence of her work so I'm planning on going in December. In the meantime you can check the artist out on Facebook,including glorious photos of previous work and her critter friends from bobcats on her roof to napping javelina on the patio, or her website.It is truly rare that someone expresses such a genuine appreciation for the world around them. We are lucky to have Wendy in our community capturing the details of Oro Valley's backyard.
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley for 6 years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. She loves gardening, nature, art, and travel. Currently her two young children fill up most of her days (and nights) with chaotic bliss. Oro Valley favorites: memorial bench at the entrance of Romero Canyon Trail in Catalina State Park, Toscana Studio and Gallery, OV Fall Festival, the gumption and determination of OV residents!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Oro Valley El Conquistador Country Club Purchase: A Great Deal For HSL Properties

A lifetime use of golf course and tennis facilities at under market rates are just two of the benefits for HSL Properties in its sale of the El Conquistador Country Club to the Town Of Oro Valley.

HSL's Benefits Are Many
These and other benefits to HSL are detailed in agreements that the town signed when it purchased the El Conquistador Country Club earlier this month. The agreement includes priority bookings for tee times and the full use the golf courses and tennis facilities.

The Hilton El Conquistador Resort looks like a four star Hilton resort but does not have the huge and money losing proposition of operating golf and tennis facilities.

The agreement is a "no recourse" agreement.  Oro Valley will bear the full cost of remediation for any reason.

The agreement stipulates that the sale is at a bargain price. That purchase price is $1million. Thus, HSL may be entitled to a large donation deduction on their tax return. Who knows how much of a tax deductible loss they will claim, a loss that returns 30 cents on the dollar. Remember too that HSL purchased the resort and property out of bankruptcy for an estimated $15million.

Oro Valley's Benefits Are Few
Mayor Hiremath, the rest of the Majority-4, and Town Manager Caton tout this purchase as great deal for Oro Valley.  They claim that the town gets a community center. They claim that they are protecting land from possible future development. Many question these assertions.

Instead of a first class community center, Oro Valley gets to rehabilitate 2 plus golf courses, refurbish an old building, and operate at least some of these facilities for 2 generations. Oro Valley will spend an added $8+mil plus to fund this endeavor in 2015-16 alone, with millions to follow for at least the next 4 years.

Oro Valley has assumed a contract with Troon Golf. It is a contract that, given the timing and circumstances, HSL negotiated on behalf of the town. The town avoided competitive bidding requirements even though it has been party to the Troon discussions for some time. Troon, for example, attended and spoke at the Oro Valley council meetings in December. 

What options does Oro Valley have if things don't work out?

It looks as if those who live along or use the El Conquistador Course will be the first to know. The town has the option of closing this course. The town could let this course return to desert. Or, perhaps, the town could sell it for whatever purpose it wishes. It seems that not all of the property owners were protected in the purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club, as alleged by Mayor Hiremath.

What else can the town do?  By agreement, the town must keep at least one course operating, the La Canada course. If it abandons that course, HSL has the right to lease it from the Town Of Oro Valley for $10,000 per year, plus a stipend that repays Oro Valley over 50 years, interest free, for any improvements the town makes to that course. If Oro Valley closes the 9 hole resort course, the agreement requires the town to maintain it as a park. What a great benefit for the El Conquistador Resort.

Benefits To Oro Valley's 41,000 residents are few
Residents get to pay a half cent sales tax increase. They get to drive to a golf club to visit their community center, a building that has no physical closeness to any park or recreation center. Indeed the community center will be a "an island unto itself."

Those who are members of any of Oro Valley's private golf courses will see the Town competing for golf memberships and player rounds. Pricing will become even more competitive because. unlike a private club, the town seems to think that it has an infinite well of revenue to support what could turn out to be a huge long term financial and operating headache.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Some claim that smart water meters pose a hazard
The Oro Valley Water Department is replacing manually read water meters with smart meters.  Smart meters use cellular data transmission of water usage to a central database. You can access the information that is uploaded using the "Water Hawk" website.  This website is  quite informative.  A user can how much water they have been using by hour for each day that the meter has been installed.  This is very helpful and useful to you in managing water usage. For example, you can easily determine how much water your drip system uses. Or, if there is a leak.

At last weeks town council meeting, two Oro Valley Residents asked that the town create an opt-out option from the towns smart water meter program. They believe that the transmission of this information can be a health hazard.  We checked with the American Cancer Society website and found interesting information about this. Generally, the amount of radiation omitted by the Smart Water meters is less than what you get with a cell phone.  Also, unlike your cell phone which is nex to your head, the Smart Water meter is located far from your home. The risk of your getting any radiation from his minimal.

That said, there is a privacy issue.  Do you want the town to be able to determine how much water you are using by the time of day and day of week?  We don't care.

Russell Ranch School For Boys Follow Up Coming
Several weeks back, Heather wrote about an Oro Valley Treasure: The Russell Ranch School for Boys. The school was run until 1950.  As a result of that posting, the Pat Marshall, the granddaughter of the founders contacted us. She wanted to know if we were interested in learning more. Pat has pictures and memoirs about the school that need a home. Heather plans to work with her to find a permanent home with the Oro Valley Historical Society. Heather will tell us more in a future posting. read what others say
Have you see the two tabs we've added on LOVE. They are next to the tab labelled "LOVE"  One tab is Oro Valley news. The other is news from Pima County. These tabs present the news of the traditional news sources so you can keep up with everything right her on love.

Long Realty: Oro Valley housing market improves in April
"In the Oro Valley area, April 2015 active inventory was 316, a 10% decrease from April 2014. There were 81 closings in April 2015, a 16% increase from April 2014. Year-to-date 2015 there were 245 closings, a 4% increase from year-to-date 2014. Months of Inventory was 3.9, down from 5.0 in April 2014. Median price of sold homes was $242,000 for the month of April 2015, down 5% from April 2014. The Oro Valley area had 102 new properties under contract in April 2015, up 21% from April 2014." (Source)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Oro Valley Resident Bristow: "Our parks and recreation facilities are for our residents first"

In recent years, the Town Of Oro Valley has designated its parks and recreation facilities as a vehicle for increasing tourism to Oro Valley. The objective is to use the facilities to boost economic growth. This directive is not in the 2005 General Plan. It is, however, in the 2014-15 town strategic plan.

Not all residents are pleased with this focus.

Some believe, as does resident Don Bristow, that the needs of Oro Valley's residents should be the over reaching objective of determining the futue of Oro Valley's parks and recreation facilities.

Don spoke of this at the Oro Valley Town Council meeting of May 6. The following are his remarks:
At the April 29, 2015 Council Study Session for the 2015/2016 Town Budget, the Parks and Recreations Director presented her proposed budget. While there were several areas of concern within this proposed budget, the overriding Focus Areas that served as the basis of this budget are of particular concern.

Two Focus Areas were identified:
  1. Economic Development which was to: "Support cultural, entertainment and sporting events."
  2. Parks, recreation, and cultural development which had as a goal:
    "Develop exceptional recreational and cultural facilities and programs that attract visitors and events that enhance residents’ quality of life and strengthens the economy."
The first focus area is 100% economic development with no parks and recreational focus for the residents. The second area offers the residents an enhanced quality of life - if their life style fits with what attracts visitors and events to strengthen the economy.

I support parks and recreational opportunities for the residents of Oro Valley.

In my opinion the foremost purpose of our parks and recreational programs and facilities is to support the needs of the residents. This would include sporting events that result from Oro Valley team activities. Economic development and strengthening the economy shouldn’t be the primary reasons for our parks and recreational programs.

If the Town can’t support the parks and recreational needs of the majority of the residents first, it must tell us why.

Please change the focus of the Parks and Recreational Department to put the residents first.
Don Bristow is a long-time Oro Valley resident and 2014 candidate for Oro Valley Town Council. Don is a frequent speaker at Oro Valley council meetings and has been a member of various Oro Valley committees.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Heather's Corner: Oro Valley "Seed Library": Growing Our Community Through Sharing

The Oro Valley Public Library is one of several Pima County libraries to have a "Seed Library."  I was thrilled to learn about it.

A practice done for over 12,000 years, seed sharing and saving for growing native plants for food and other purposes is a part of our southwest heritage and historical traditions. It ensures the strongest plants by cultivating seeds that are better adapted to our climate and then sharing those seeds within our community. That is why the Pima County Public Library started the Seed Library in January of 2012 and their seed catalog is expanding every year with more enthusiastic participants wanting to get involved.

The Seed Library is used by visiting in person to browse and choose your packets or viewing the alphabetical online catalog where you can search for specific plants and then reserve for pick-up. Currently the seeds are categorized by "Easy" and "Advanced" meaning the ease or difficulty of harvesting and collecting the seeds, not how to grow them. Seed availability depends on donations, growing success, and the seasons so they suggest checking back often to see what's new.

So how do you "borrow" seeds from the library? Simple!  Just use your library card as you would normally and scan the barcode on the seed packet. Each packet contains enough seeds to grow at least 5-10 plants and you can check out up to 6 packets a month.

"Borrowing" seeds is a different term in the Seed Library. You do not need to return the same seeds in the future so there are no overdue fines or due dates. In fact the library stresses not to worry about saving seeds now. Just find seeds that interest you and learn how to grow and have fun in the garden. If you would like to become a donor, their website has information on how to collect, store, and donate seeds.

The Seed Library is a great way to get out in the garden at relatively no cost to you. Instead the focus is on "nurturing a culture of sharing and abundance," educating, and "reconnecting our community to the traditions of growing tasty, healthy food." So why not try your luck at a vegetable garden, desert plant landscape, or flower bed. And anyone willing to share photos of your garden, feel free!
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley for 6 years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. She loves gardening, nature, art, and travel. Currently her two young children fill up most of her days (and nights) with chaotic bliss. Oro Valley favorites: memorial bench at the entrance of Romero Canyon Trail in Catalina State Park, Toscana Studio and Gallery, OV Fall Festival, the gumption and determination of OV residents!