Friday, April 17, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Archery Demo Day Tomorrow At Naranja Park


Interested in learning Archery? Then do go over to Naranja Park from 9 to Noon tomorrow to join in the festivities. They will be basic archery instruction, vendor booths, a competitive shoot, a course walk-around, and food trucks.

It is billed as "fun for the whole family." Call 520-229-5050 to learn more.

Oro Valley's First Settlers

No. We're not the first settlers!
Former Oro Valley Mayor Loomis, Richard
and Archeologist Allen Denoyer
Saturday's Setter's Day festivity at Steam Pump Ranch gave us pause to think about Oro Valley first setter's, the Hohokam.  There is a replica of a mud adobe hut on the north side of the site, .  It looks in move-in condition.

Its not terribly big. Could probably comfortably fit 4. Maybe a bit risky of getting flooded in the rain. But, then again, we don't have much of that in Oro Valley.

Governor Ducey Signs Wrong Bill

Face with a choice to make the referendum process even more onerous than it already is or simplifying it a bit, Arizona Governor Ducey signed a bill (HB2407) that will make it impossible to have a successful referendum:

"House Bill 2407 by Republican Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, modifies requirements for voter referendums and recalls, tightening rules on the signature-gathering process and the wording of the measure. Thousands of signatures can be invalidated over minor mistakes including margin spacing and serial numbers, while single signatures can be disqualified for not matching a voter’s registration or marking the wrong date." (Source)

Does anyone know of a case that the Supreme Court could hear that would give them the opportunity to overturn this legislative overreach?

Oro Valley Optimist Club Sponsors Golf Event on May 16 To Raise Funds For Youth

The Oro Valley Optimist Club, of which Heather wrote this past Tuesday, is sponsoring a "Scramble For Youth" at the El Conquistador Country Club.  All proceeds will go to support Oro Valley Youth Programs.  Learn more and register here.

Sprint Triathlon Tomorrow

The 3rd annual Oro Valley Sprint Triathlon is tomorrow. It is a 800 meter swim, a 14 mile bike ride, and a 3 mile run.  The event runs from 6-11am. The event will impact traffic on Concordia, La Canada, Lambert Lane and Oracle Road.

Visit Tucson Estimates $4million Impact On Oro Valley

Visit Tucson, Oro Valley's external marketing arm, reported to the Oro Valley Town Council this past Wednesday that its efforts have increase the Oro Valley economy by $4million in the past year. It estimates hat 27,000 visitors have come to town as a result of their efforts. Watch this brief video of their report.

Visit Tucson received $175,000 from Oro Valley's Bed Taxes last year. This funds 2.5% of their revenue. Next year, the town is committed to funding it for $225,000.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Oro Valley Town Manager Caton To Present $120 Million 2015-16 Budget Request To Council Tonight

Oro Valley Town Manger Greg Caton will present his recommended fiscal year 2015/16 budget to the Oro Valley Town Council tonight. The budget amount of $120.1 million is a 12% increase from the Adopted FY 2014/15 Budget totaling $107.1 million.

El Conquistador Country Club and Community Center has huge impact
Over 50% of the $13million increase in spending over prior year is to support the costs of operating the El Conquistador Country Club  and Community Center. The project is budgeted to lose $600,000 after inclusion of an estimated $2million from the half percent increase in the sales tax that went into effect in March.

Almost 80% of the 16 new positions in the budget are to support the El Conquistador Country Club and Community Center. "The FTE increase attributable to the Town’s new Community and Recreation Center totals 12.36." (TMRB 2015-16 Page iii)

The budget also includes $1.115million for improvements to the El Conquistador Country Club and Community Center. This is for "...for ADA accessibility improvements, aesthetic interior and exterior improvements and golf course improvements." (TMRB 2015-16 Page viii)

Health care "Self Insurance" costs going up
Several years ago, LOVE's John Musolf asserted that the town's change to a self-insured health claim program would result in a one or two year gain. The savings achieved in the early years are really "phantom." This is because there are no preexisting claims at the start of the program.  It seems that our assertions were correct:

"After years of trending low in our health claims costs, we have seen a spike in these costs during FY 2014/15. The FY 2015/16 Recommended Budget includes 10% health insurance premium increases for both the employee and the Town contributions, and it is expected that annual, incremental increases will continue over the next few years in order to adequately prepare for possible future large claims." (TMRB 2015-16 Page iv)

Giving planned at $362,200
The budget plans the following contributions.
  • $30,000 for the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • $215,000 for Visit Tucson ($175,000 last year)
  • $75,000 for the Oro Valley branch of the Childrens Museum
  • $32,200 for the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA)
  • $10,000 for Tohono Chul Park
Police Evidence Facilty On Tap
The Oro Valley Police Department has voiced a need for a police evidence facility. $1.134million is included in this budget to "... begin the design and possible construction" of this facility in 2015-16. The building would occur in 2016-17.

Some New initiatives
The budget includes new initiatives, some of which were pilot tested in 2014-15. These include:
  • The overseeding of Riverfront and Naranja parks ($50,000)
  • A pilot program to test outsourcing as part of the maintenance of Oro Valley parks ($100,000)
  • Use of inmates to perform maintenance and vegetation removal projects ($100,000)
Contingency Fund to remain at higher than required levels
"The estimated year-end contingency reserve balance in the General Fund for FY 2015/16 is $10.2 million, which equals 31% of the recommended expenditure budget. The Town’s adopted policy level is 25%."  (TMRB 2015-16 Page x)

Mr. Caton's presentation tonight should be an interesting one.  We will post it for you to see when it becomes available together with any visual materials.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Heather's Corner: Oro Valley Optimist Club-Serving Our Youth and Looking for New Members

The Oro Valley Optimist Club ("OVOC") began in 2002 and has been running strong ever since. What does an Optimist Club do you ask? In short, they "strive to bring out the best in kids." Though they are a "small but mighty" club, with current membership topping out at 25, they are incredibly active and support 12 different youth groups in our community.

Once a year they sponsor the very effective, not to mention fun, fundraiser "Scramble for Youth" Golf Tournament, this year to be held May 16, 2015 at the El Conquistador Country Club. If interested, you can register online through their website or print a form to mail. Other events include an annual Rummage Sale to support their ongoing projects such as Dispose-A-Med, Drug Awareness Day, Student of the Year Scholarship, and Optimist Junior Golf Tournament among others.

But perhaps my favorite Optimist worthy cause is the Pennies Campaign, which raises money for the University of Arizona Children's Cancer Care Center. The One Million Pennies for Childhood Cancer campaign does exactly that; collects donations via their website, or as many local businesses have done, displays canisters for donations, with all proceeds going toward the cause. If you would like to donate or know of a business that might be interested in displaying a canister more information can be found here.

One thing OVOC would like to see is membership expansion. I recently spoke with their president, John Klipstein, who informed me that unlike other "clubs" that are designed for networking and social gatherings, this is a club endeavoring to improve the lives of youth in our community whether that be through education, financial disposition, or even those orphaned or on their own.

"We are looking for good people who can donate an hour and a half of their time each month who are dedicated to improving the lives of youth."

Cheers to what sounds like a devoted and conscious group of people! If you are interested in donating to one of the above causes or if you would like more information about becoming a member of the OVOC please contact info@orovalleyoptimistclub.org.
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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, April 13, 2015

Oro Valley Mayor Hiremath's "33% Solution"

Last September, we met with Mayor Hiremath to discuss a community center for Oro Valley. LOVE has advocated for a community center for many years. The Mayor said, during the last month of his campaign that he was in favor of the town having a community center. We were thrilled. Finally, some common ground on which we could build.

 At our meeting with the Mayor, he said that, in order to finance the community center, Oro Valley would have to raise the sales tax a half penny. He also said that "33% of Oro Valley sales tax revenues come from people who do not reside in Oro Valley."  The Mayor thought that, by raising the sales tax a half-penny, a larger share of the sales a tax dollars would come from these people. They would, in effect, pay for the community center.

(At that time we had no idea that the Mayor was talking about purchasing the El Conquistador Country Club and converting the club house to a community center. Had we known it at that time, we would have told you.)

Our conversation with Mayor Hiremath was not about the "33%" number."  We never questioned it. We "assumed" [there is that word again] that Mayor Hiremath and the Town Of Oro Valley had a valid financial analysis that substantiated this fact. After all, the Mayor has asserted that sales tax revenue derived from tourism was way to fund the community center. This financing method would be of less burden to the residents of Oro Valley than any alternative financing method.

Oro Valley resident Paul Emmert was curious regarding the number. He asked Mayor Hiremath, via email, about the support for the number. According Mayor Hiremath, the number was calculated when he was president of the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance ("SAACA). It was based on a methodology that he gave to Emmert. When Paul investigated further he found that neither the Mayor nor anyone Paul could contact in that town of affiliated with SAACA could find the actual calculation.

In his correspondence to Emmert, the Mayor recalls the SAACA study. As SAACA applied the methodology, "...it was apparent that a pattern was beginning to develop and that pattern was that, on average, we were looking at roughly 33% of revenues were coming from visitors."

Emmett would  like to see the calculation. The 33% number differs from a number from a study done by the Arizona Department of Tourism that shows that 10.4% of sales tax revenues comes from tourism.

Mayor Hiremath asserts in his email correspondence to Emmert that it is Emmert's job to prove the 33% number is wrong rather than him proving that the number is right. We thought his position on this a bit curious so we  did follow-up with the Mayor. He told us that methodologies provided by American For The Arts [which SAACA uses] and the Destination Marketing Association International [which TREO] would, when their results are combined, exceed the 33% number.
"If you combine the two percentages, you will see that they will be above the 33% and keep in mind that's not even including the daily sales tax [revenue] we receive from Catalina, Oracle, Marana, San Manuel, Tucson, and Pima County residents to name a few."
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Settler's Day Tomorrow At Steam Pump Ranch

Last week we posted about Oro Valley's Settler's Days. It's tomorrow from 9am-3pm at Steam Pump Ranch. It is going to be a good time for the entire family.There is a kid's zone with a Petting zoo, Pony ring, Bugs and Snakes with the Olson Brothers, and Baby goats. And food trucks.
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Bill (HB 2450) Requiring Town Clerks To Enter Serial Numbers Awaits Governor's Signature

A bill that requires town clerks to put the serial numbers on referndum forms has passed both the Arizona House and Senate. The bill was sponsored by Oro Valley resident and state representative Mark Finchem.

According to Finchem:
"My statement on this is intended to be neutral on the golf course matter per se, but focused specifically on government controls imposed on citizens attempting to use the political system (the ballot box) to put a matter to a -vote of the people.  
When voters feel they have been disenfranchised it is a responsibility of the appropriate body to provide relief, if needed. In this case, it was clear the issue would have been a non-issue had the number been placed on the first petition in the series. 
In my short time at the Arizona Legislature I have confirmed my suspicion that statues and ordinances are most often the result of a perceived “bad act” by someone, and they seek only to prevent another happenstance, a repeat of the bad act by another." 
The bill is awaiting the Governor's signature.
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Oro Valley Youth Advisory Council Sponsors BBQ Field Day Event for Oro Valley High School Students Tomorrow

Oro Valley, Arizona (April 1, 2015) - All Oro Valley high school students (grades 9-12) are invited to the annual BBQ Field Day on Saturday, April 11, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Riverfront Park lower field, 551 W. Lambert Lane.

This FREE event, which is hosted by the Oro Valley Youth Advisory Council, will feature music, volleyball, capture the flag and free food. No RSVP necessary; just show up and join the fun! To view photos from last year's event or learn more about the Youth Advisory Council, visit www.orovalleyyouth.com." (Source: Oro Valley Press Release)
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Watch The Naranja Park Grand Opening

The Town Of Oro Valley has posted a video of the Naranja Park grand opening. This took place in March. You can watch it here.
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From Our Web Mail

From Ben.:
"Speaking of Snakes The first rattler of the year just came out of the snake freeway put in by the town and called gabion baskets. It would take a flame thrower to get the snakes out of these things."
Those are some sturdy baskets!

AK sent us a link on why golf has lost popularity in the US.

Anonyous wrote: "I saw another blogger mention that maybe OV should annex property further south. My question is- what is the northern boundary of Tucson? How far can OV go? I think Ina West of Oracle is county. Is that a place to start?."
The northern boundary of Tucson is just north of River Road. (Tucson Boundary Map)

CF Asked: "Did the Supreme Court take up the case regarding the purchase of El Con golf courses?'
The Court has not yet ruled on whether or not they will hear the case.
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Pima County Assessor Data: Oro Valley/Catalina House Sale Median Values Rank Third In County

"Economic Districts are a grouping of neighborhoods that have similar economic forces or geographic location. Pima County has 22 such areas." Oro-Valley and Catalina are combined into one of these districts.

The median value of a home used in the 2016 valuation in assessing home in this region was almost $270,000. This ranks third behind homes in the Catalina Foothills ($416,500) and the Northeast ($275,000).

This is a drop from a second raking last year, when Oro Valley values ranked ahead of the Northeast district.

(Source)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Guest View: Brenda Ryan-"Oro Valley Voters Really Care"

It has been a very interesting, learning experience for my husband and me to sit outside the Oro Valley Library six days a week, and meet those residents who come to sign the Recall Petitions. Some also come to ask questions about the reasons for a Recall. After a brief discussion they all want to sign!

Most of the eager signers are upset and appalled by the lack of transparency our Town government has shown them. Many are upset about the high-density growth, the huge numbers of apartments up and down Oracle, which was supposed to be our "Scenic Corridor".

A large number feel that these meetings, arranged to explain the hasty purchase of the El Con properties were nothing but distorted figures and lies. They noted that when they arrived at the venues for these meetings, the Mayor's friends had already taken most of the seats, having been advised to come much earlier and fill the seats.

Oro Valley voters are incensed that they are called a "Whiny minority", that the "Don’t Sign" signs around town have no source indicated on them. These signs actually draw them to the Library and Sun City Activity Center to sign petitions because they are tired of being demeaned, legislated to, and ignored. They feel that none of their questions have been truthfully answered, that statistics have been deliberately misrepresented, that legal contracts have not been explained adequately or fairly obtained, and their voices have been ignored.

We were amazed at how astute these voters are to the deeds that this group of M-4's have perpetrated on our town. Often those who were signing would start sharing with those waiting to sign the facts that have hurt them personally. Many complained that when the utility tax was to sunset, it was doubled to 4% instead! Others resented the half-cent sales tax increase which would hurt them and drive business out of Oro Valley. A large number of people were angered over the approval of a five-story building near Oracle and First Avenue. Others felt that lighted signs at night at the Marketplace would further destroy our "Scenic Corridor" and the overall appearance of our town. A good number of folks told us about the intentions to re-zone more open land to high-density, when the original plans would have allowed open space, or minimal density. We heard from those who know that the M-4's reduced the Town Reserve Fund by 50%, transferred $1.2 million from the "Rainy Day Fund", and approved A-frame signs for five years.

We even had some employees of the El Con property come to sign. They described the small rooms, deterioration, and inadequate area for a "community center". They shared the poor condition of the tennis courts, the golf cart pathways and the small swimming pools. They fear that we are all going to be in difficult financial straits to pay the $10 million or more for repairs, upgrades, and reconstruction. Pima County will lose $120,000 in taxes from the El Con, Oro Valley will lose $40,000 a year, and they can only assume it will be another addition to our property taxes.

Listening to a radio interview with the Mayor we learned that "Bert" (Mr. Humberto Lopez, the developer) has reserved "Five acres of the golf course land for his own development!"

We are grateful to have found so many residents who really care about the future of Oro Valley, and we thank them for their participation in this most important exercise of the democratic process.
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Brenda Ryan is a long time Oro Valley resident and a consistent reader and commenter on LOVE. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Stinnett: "We Need A Change. We Need It Now."

Jack Stinnett is an Oro Valley resident and member of Oro Valley Citizens For Open Governmant (OVCOG).  Jack served as chairman of the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Advisory Board the past two years.

Jack told us that he resigned from that position on December 26th because he felt he could do more for Town parks opposing this El Conquistador Country Club fiasco and did not feel it would be appropriate to remain on Parks and Recreation Advisory Board while trying to put this issue before Town voters.

A sudden turn of events had "startled" the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

One minute the 2015 Parks and Recreation Department plan included a community center at Naranja Park. And then it didn't. Jack relates that "The Parks and Recreation Board November 17th meeting was abruptly cancelled and rescheduled to December 9th. In the meeting the detailed layout for the Naranja Park build out was presented but the [originally included] 40,000 sqft Community Center had vanished and was replaced by an “Event Center.”

At that same meeting: "In the Town Staff presentation, we learned that Town was buying the El Conquistador Country Club resort properties from HSL, a major campaign contributor to Mayor Hiremath, and Council members Hornat, Snider and Waters.

The deal supposedly cost $1 million. The real cost, according to Stinnett, will be closer to $13 million.

Town Manager Caton requested a motion of Parks and Recreation Advisory Board support for this proposal. I proposed the Town requested motion and it did not pass. A subsequent motion to only buy the facility and reject buying the three golf courses passed 5-1. The rest is history."

Jack believes that the town's representation that Oro Valley is getting a community center in the El Conquistador Country Club deal is a smoke screen. "Town Manager Caton represented that the 21,000 soft single story 30 year old, Racketball club with a $2million in repairs and upgrades would miraculously become a 40,000sqft two story Community Center meeting Town resident needs."

Even in the original Parks and Recreation Department plan, The Community Center was seen as a second tier town need that would be developed after the resident’s more desired park’s features were built.

"It would have been a beautiful center, like the Apache Junction Multi Generation Center which was built in 2006 for $5 million," Jack noted to us. "A dream center for young families. It was going to have a child watch room, a teen center, and a climbing wall. Basketball courts for our kids and an indoor walking track for our seniors.  Take a a virtual tour of the center. Instead we're getting a run down recquetball club that fails to address the youth and the senior needs"

"Any council that would approve such an insane deal, without any resident input, doesn't deserve to represent us," noted Jack. "We need a change and we need it now."