Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Oro Valley: Pima County's Cash Cow

You just received your property tax bill. You're amazed. The value of your property, according to the assessment, is up 2%, 5%, 8% or maybe 10% plus. You're reading the month Long Realty Oro Valley housing report. You see that the median price of houses sold has increased only 2% in the past year.

What gives, you ask?

Welcome to "Bizarro World." In Bizarro World, Pima County assessment values and the changes in these values have no discernable relationship to the real world.

The only piece of good news you can fall back on is that, thanks to a voter referendum you approved last summer, property taxes for residential and rentals are based on limited value, starting in 2015. Limited value is restricted to 5 percent increase per year.

"Hallelulah?" you say. Until you realize that a 5% in just in just 5 short years, is actually a 27% increase over today's value.

Feeling a bit stressed?

The county is not done with you yet.

It is likely that this coming August, when the county sets the 2016 property tax rate, they will jack it up double digits. After all, County Supervisor Huckleberry is whining about how the State (you pay for this too) is not giving the county as much money as the county wants.  Stay tuned as the county begins its 2015-16 budget hearings next week.

There's precedent for big increases in the tax rate. Last August the Pima County Board of Supervisors set the county’s combined tax rate for 2015 at $5.76 per $100 of the assessed valuation, an increase of about 12 percent from the prior year. The tax rate increase for the primary rate was 16.17%, Oro Valley's supervisor representative Ally Miller voted against the tax rate increases.

In summary: The county raises the limited value of your property, but not more than 5% by law. Then the county jacks up the primary tax rate by double digits: say 16.17 %, like last year. The result? Your property taxes go up 22%.

The only limit on the amount of the primary tax rate is the vote of your county supervisor.

The county's "tax and spend" philosophy hits Oro Valley property owners hard in Oro Valley because Oro Valley property values are higher per square foot than those in the rest of the county.  As we pointed out in a February posting: "Oro Valley's population is 4% of the county's population but its property values are almost 9% of the county's assessed property values."

Aren't we the lucky ones.

You have until April 28th to submit a petition if think that you value is off. The Assessor's office phone number is (520) 724-8630. The website to visit is here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Heather's Corner: Oro Valley Tax Credit Incentives: Make Sure You're Receiving Credit Where Credit is Due

It's tax time. No doubt many of you are looking for ways to receive federal or state tax credits. Hopefully you are already aware of the tax credits and incentives listed in the Oro Valley Town's website, but if not there are a couple that I found interesting.

Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Having had installed proper energy efficient products not only helps the environment and saves money on your bill, but potentially offers tax credits as well. The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 extended through December 31, 2014, tax credits for some energy efficiency measures that previously expired at the end of 2013. This must be for your existing home and principal residence. Rentals and new builds do not apply.

The tax credits 10% of cost up to $500 or a specific amount from $50-$300. You can refer to this link to see if you qualify. Examples include:
  • Windows, doors, skylights
  • Metal roofs with appropriate pigmented coatings" and "asphalt roofs with appropriate cooling granules"
  • Typical bulk insulation products can qualify, such as batts, rolls, blow-in fibers, rigid boards, expanding spray, and pour-in-place but also products that air seal like weatherstripping and caulk.
  • Advanced Main Air Circulating Fan
  • Central Air Conditioning with certification statement 
For the 2015/2016 year, existing homes and new construction qualify as well as both principal residences and second homes. These credits, under the Energy Star Program, are 30% or cost, with no upper limit and include:
  • geothermal heat pumps
  • small wind turbines (residential)
  • solar energy systems 
And 30% of the cost, up to $500 per .5 KW of power capacity tax credit for Fuel Cells (Residential Fuel Cell and Microturbine System).

I would like to note the Town's website currently lists Arizona Greywater Conservation System Tax Credit. This credit is for installing a water conservation system in a residence that relates to the recovery and disposal of greywater. However, this credit expired January 1, 2012.

Soon enough, this dreaded tax time will be behind us, if it isn't already for some. Until then, we are at least at the tail end of tax season in the abundantly enjoyable Oro Valley weather as opposed to some of those back east.

And check out the full list of Energy Star qualifying tax credits. As a Morgan Stanley advertisement once stated, "You must pay taxes. But there’s no law that says you gotta leave a tip."
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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, March 30, 2015

Mayor Hiremath: The Residents and The Police Are Patrners

The downward trend in Oro Valley crime that we reported last week prompted a continuing conversation with Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath.

"The relationship between the police department and the town’s residents is key to assuring we keep Oro Valley a safe community," according to Mayor Hiremath."

The Mayor believes that Oro Valley Police Department's proactive approach "...is key to assuring we maintain our quality of life in Oro Valley. The reason the Oro Valley Police Department is as effective as they are is due to the combined efforts of a number of areas moving in the same direction "

Mayor Hiremath is committed to ensuring that the Police Department has the resources and the flexibility to address any and all issues that threaten public safety and security.

To the Mayor, the amount spent on public safety and the result achieved go hand-in-hand.  "Any reduction [in spending] equates to less service and diminished safety."

Mayor Hiremath relies "... on the expertise of the Chief of Police and his staff to let us know what is necessary to provide service, and I trust them to carry out their mission. Chief Sharp is the expert in the field and, while it may appear to some he has a blank check, I can assure you he does not."

The Mayor feels that those who want to cut specific line items form the police budget do not understand how the system works. "Each part plays a crucial role as related to the outcome."

A $1million reduction in spending would save $23.15 per resident annually. This is about 6 cents per day. "Would you rather save 6 cents a day or possibly become a victim of a crime?"

Mayor Hiremath says that bad guys target a town that reduces its police budget.

"Some people who commit crimes are aware of budget season in municipalities in hopes that public safety monies will get cut, because they know this will lead to less police officers being able to respond to lower level crimes such as burglaries."

"The proven track record of the Oro Valley Police Department makes them a model other communities follow, and I am very pleased with the service they provide. I am proud to be the Mayor of a town with such low crime statistics!"
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Hartung: "OVCOG Recall Effort Is Not About Police"

We've been alerted by a resident of Suffolk Hills that some Oro Valley police, who live in the subdivision north of Suffolk Hill, are telling neighbors that OVCOG members are anti-police, and that the recall effort of the Majority's-4 is about electing people to make anti-police policy changes.

We followed-up with OVCOG's leader, Ryan Hartung:

LOVE:  Is OVCOG anti-police?

Hartung: "Absolutely not. We have never discussed the police department at our meetings. The Oro Valley Police Department does an excellent job helping to keep our town safe. Our issues are with the recent votings of the council and them not listening to their constituency and making decisions without doing their due diligence. The police department's spending has nothing to do with OVCOG."

LOVE: Is the recall about electing people to make anti-police policy changes?

Hartung: OVCOG is not about electing people, period. We are only concerned about gaining the signatures necessary to force a recall election. Only when that goal is met will we even think about candidates. The goal of OVCOG is ONLY to gather signatures for the recall election. We are not trying to flip the council from one side to another. We have heard of many people interested in running for council, should a recall election occur, but we have not decided who, if any candidates we might support. Again, we have never discussed the police department, nor will we, as they have nothing to do with OVCOG.

There are two "third-rails" of Oro Valley politics. One is a "Property Tax." The other is anything to do with the police.  Could it be that the Majority-4 have energized their police union friends to activate this latter "third rail."
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Oro Valley Resident Competed In 2015 Ms Senior Arizona Contest

Jane Stump of Oro Valley competed in the Ms. Senior Arizona contest in Phoenix last weekend. "Twenty-one women over the age of 60 from across the state participate in the 26th Annual Ms. Senior Arizona Pageant at the Valley Vista Performing Arts Center in Surprise." (Source)
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Don't Forget Oro Valley's Art Tours

"As a reminder, Oro Valley provides guided public art tours. The two-hour tours take place on the third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m., starting at Oro Valley Town Hall. Admission and transportation are FREE, but reservations are required as seating is limited.

Additionally, due to the increase in development and construction, there are several new public art pieces that art enthusiasts will enjoy, as well as stops at the always-impressive public art collections at Oro Valley Marketplace and Oro Valley Hospital.

Reservations can be made online at www.orovalleyaz.gov by clicking on the Arts & Entertainment link. " (Source: Oro Valley Press Release)
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Oro Valley Senior Softball Wraps Ups Successful Season

Oro Valley has two senior softball teams. The 65's team finished third in the regular season in the Golf Links Thursday League. They finished third in the end of year tournament. The 70's team won 90%+ of games played for the last 10 weeks of the season in their Monday-Wednesday league. Oro Valley residents Jeff Lesser and Jay Stevens manage the 65 and 70 teams, respectively. The season runs from October through March.

All games are played outside of Oro Valley because Oro Valley does not have a senior softball field suitable for play.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Oro Valley Serious Crimes Down in 2014


Oro Valley residents got some "good news" in this years's Oro Valley Police Department 2014 crime reports.

Serious Crime Down by 12%

Serious crimes decreased by 12% to 678 in Oro Valley in 2014. This according to the final 2014 statistics published by the Oro Valley Police Department.

Theft continues to be Oro Valley's most serious crime. It accounts for more than 4 out of every 5 serious crimes. In 2014, only 2 of the 12 serious crime reporting categories, Burglary and Sexual Assault, showed an increase. So, lock your doors and turn on the alarm!

Further good news is that the number of serious crimes continues to decline. At the same time Oro Valley's population has remained relative stagnant. The result is a slight decrease in the crime rate (per 100,000 population).

Oro Valley is a "safe haven" compared to other Southern Arizona communities. Oro Valley's serious crime rate per 100,000 is 1,650. The Arizona state serious crime rate is more than twice that rate at 3,800.
Neighboring communities have higher crime rates. Marana, for example, has a smaller population than Oro Valley yet had 32% more serious crimes in 2013. Perhaps this has something to do with its proximity to I-10.

Violent Crime Down To Less Than 4%

Violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, and assault)  in Oro Valley is relatively rare. Violent crime is less than 4% of all serious crimes in Oro Valley. There were 21 violent crimes in 2014. Aggravated assaults, assaults of a particularly violent or threatening nature, were two-thirds of Oro Valley's violent crimes. The statewide average in 2013 was more than 10%. (Source)

We asked Mayor Hiremath his view on this year's results:
"The Oro Valley Police Department continues to provide quality service to the residents, businesses and visitors in the Town. The voter approved General Plan calls for Community Policing as our guide for the provision of police service, and we are fortunate that Chief Sharp, along with his department’s leadership, has a solid grasp of those principles necessary to carry out that mission. The relationship between the police department and the town’s residents is key to assuring we keep Oro Valley a safe community."
How To Avoid A Driving Citation

The Oro Valley Police Department also reported its "citations issued" for 2014.  The Odepartment issued a total of 4,240 citations. The statistics tell us that doing 3 things in particular will help you avoid a citation:
  • Keep your registration, insurance and drivers license valid
The citation of not maintaining proper registration, a valid traffic license, or valid insurance accounted for almost 1,850 violations.  
  • Observe the speed limit
Speeding accounted for 32% of  all citations in 2014. 
  • Drive sober 
There were more than 200 DUI citations issued.
And, of course, do drive safely: Stay in your lane, use your lane change signals and do not run a red light.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Heather's Corner: Rattlesnake Preparedness: Yes, It's That Time Again

You're walking along an Oro Valley pathway enjoying the sunny warmth on your skin. Maybe you aren't watching where you're going because the bursting wildflowers have caught your eye. Suddenly you hear the sound of keratin segments vibrating at 60 times per second and you realize, days of carefree biking, hiking, and meandering are over. It's rattlesnake season.

Southern Arizona has 15 types of rattlers and the next few months is when you are most likely to encounter one during daylight hours, respectfully switching active times to just after dark during hotter months. So what do you do if you encounter one? Don't panic!

Visitor at my parent's house last summer. Gulp!
The Arizona Game and Fish Department's website assures us that the scaly fellow will be just as nervous as you are. Your best bet is to move away slowly and deliberately, at least 6 full steps (or 6 feet) in the opposite direction of the snake and potential striking distance. Though rattlers max out at 3 mph top speed during travel, their striking speed is unmatched.

What about those visitors to our back yard patio? Chances are the snake is just passing through but you can also call the fire department for immediate removal as well as a private enterprise located under "Pest Removal Service." I, personally will choose the latter two options if necessary.

How about rattlesnake prevention?

Believe it or not, there are actually things you can do to prevent rattlesnakes from entering your yard. A major deterrent is keeping their food source to a minimum. That means eliminating rodents in and around your property. Being a primary food source, it makes your yard a perfect residence with unlimited buffet for the summer. Keep in mind, and this broke my heart, bird feeders as well. Though they are lovely to have, snakes are drawn to the prolonging scent of birds at the feeders.

Also rattlers do not dig their own holes therefore seek out shelter in pre-dug holes via rodents, rabbits, or other types of snakes. Be vigilant in filling in these holes as they appear. And yes, that woodpile next to the side of your house should probably go too.

Above all, common sense prevails. Although you can not prepare yourself for the unexpected chance encounter on a pathway or in your own back yard, realize you take certain risks when traveling off path or in areas more likely suited for a rattler habitat this time of year. Time to start making my yard unappealing to the Arizona spring and summer critters. Though, I do love my bird feeder. Maybe that one can wait a few more weeks. Any photos of critters you'd like to share? The Arizona Game and Fish department also suggest a solid 4 foot wall with an outward lip, shown in the sketch, because snakes can not cling to a wall if forced to arch backward for the lip. However, they can fit into areas as small as a quarter so gates must fit snugly on the ground and drainage holes should have 1/4 inch hardware cloth.
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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!

Resident Seeks Council Help To Respond To Unfounded Allegation

Oro Valley resident Shirl Lamonna brought her "case" to council last Wednesday. Lamonna discussed Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce President Dave Perry's remarks impugning Lamonna's motives for opposing a zoning change several years ago. See our posting last Wednesday.

Lamonna began her remarks, of which we have included a video (below), with the goal of "...taking advantage of the [council's] ability to respond to criticism." Lamonna then proceeded to discuss Perry's ill spoken remarks to council of March 4.

Lamonna's primary concern is that Perry's comment not only impugns the motives behind her strident efforts several years ago, but also violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the town's agreement with Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The town donates $30,000 annually to the chamber. That agreement states that the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce in any political activities in Oro Valley.
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Oro Valley "Meet Yourselves" Featured Religious Teachings

Oro Valley celebrated diverse cultures this past weekend. The event was sponsored by Town of Oro Valley and Vestar, Oro Valley Marketplace and produced by Southwest Folklife Alliance.

"Experience the authentic, community-based cultural traditions and folk-life of Oro Valley: music, dance, manual arts, occupation customs, foodways and stories of home and place."

The event was only somewhat about "cultures." Most of the space was devoted to food vendors, sponsors, and vintage cars (The vintage cars were really cool!).

In the middle there was a GFRD truck and fire personnel. The kids really loved it and the personnel were very cool!

So, to an extent, the event was a like a "Fair."

The only cultural exhibits that we could find was a table hosted by a Ukranian group and several Tohono Nation tables displaying working carvings and related arts.

Imagine the surprise of one of our readers when the reader came upon Islam religious teachings at the event. "Islam is a religion. It is not a culture," that individual wrote us.

So, Sunday, we went to the festival. The "main street stage" hosted an islamic religious leader speaking about the religious tenets.  The stage was large and it had a high volume sound system. So the individual's words could he heard everywhere. There were to be "chantings and recitations." Later, "Islam 101" took place in the folklore pavilion.

There was a discussion of "Jewish Ritual Objects" and their importance from a cultural perspective.

There were events that did focus solely on culture: Mexican wood carvings, origami, and and indian decorative arts. There was a presentation of "Kosher Challah Baking."

All of the events may have served the purpose of the Southwest Folklore Alliance. This is to "...celebrate the everyday expressions of culture, heritage and diversity in the Greater Southwest."

We wonder...

Should the Town Of Oro Valley have promoted an event that extols religious teachings? .

What do you think?
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