Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Oro Valley's Aging Demographics Strike A Need For More Services

In his State of the Town address, Oro Valley Mayor Hiremath observed: " “Oro Valley is no longer just a “retirement” community!” According to town communication director, Misti Nowak, the Mayor was making the point that in spite of Oro Valley’s reputation as just a retirement community, according to the latest Census data, there are as many people over 65 as under 18."

The facts don't exactly support this assertion.  According to the 2010 Census,  there were actually 37% more people over 65 (10,699) than 18 or under (7,888).  Still, it is important to remember that Oro Valley is more than a retirement community.

The problem is...

Oro Valley's Population Is Actually Getting Older

Here are 5 striking facts.  During the 10 year period 2000-2010:
  • The growth in the number of people in the 65+ group was twice that of the 18 and under group: 3,959 to 1,996, respectively.
  • The percent of households with individuals who are 65 or older increased from 35% to 40.5%.
  • The percent of households with individuals who are 18 or younger decreased from 28% to 24.7%.
  • The percent of the population with individuals who are 14 or younger decreased from 17.8% to 15.1%; and
  • The actual number of people 14 or younger increased by 892 in the 10 years, an increase of 17% while the overall population of the town increased 38%.
Indeed, the overall statistic, average median age, bears this out.  It increased to 49.6 years in 2010, up from 45.3 years in 2000. (The median age is that age at which there are as many people over 49.6 years as under 49.6 years.)

It Matters That  Oro Valley Population Is Actually Older, Not Younger

The statistics matter because the direction the numbers are headed should impact planning.

A younger community, one where the youth population is growing significantly, requires more schools, more recreation facilities, and more youth family services.  An older community, one where the population is aging, requires more medical service, less outdoor recreation facilities, and strong police and emergency services.

The young, after all, have different needs, different dreams, and different aspirations than seniors. Striking a balance between the desires of the young and the old will be key to the 2015 General Plan update.

Given This Aging Trend, Does Investing Town Reserves In More Youth Facilities Right Now Make Sense?

That's something of which you need to be the judge.

Tonight, the Oro Valley Town Council will discuss spending $2.3 million on two multi-use fields and a dog park at the Naranja Town Site. Multi-use fields are most suitable for soccer, perhaps some softball.  This would be something primarily for the young people of our community. The dog park, which really should be put at Riverfront Park, has appeal to those who own pets.   It is really age neutral.  Its cost is a small part of the $2.3 million.

Neither of these things, unless you are a pet owner, serves an aging community.

If, for example, Oro Valley has $2.3 million to invest, and there is some discussion as to whether this is even the case, why not invest it in a Community Center? This could be used by young and old. Perhaps the town should use some of the money to seed our parks in the winter so that the parks don't look like brown fields of muck, as they are beginning to look now.  Just go visit Riverfront Park.

We are not for or against two multi-use fields or the dog park.

The statistics tell the facts: These are facilities that most of us will not use.

So, we question the wisdom of it at this time.

We question the wisdom of investing in the Naranja Town Site without a suitable plan for the rest of the facility.  We question the wisdom of spending the town's reserves when the economy of our country continues in a malaise.  We question how the town can come up with money to build a significant facility but not have enough money to even over seed are parks in the winter.   We question why commitments that were made in our last general plan, such as for a community center, have never been discussed, let alone met. 

We wonder what you think?


OVDad said...

Clearly, the town does a great job already attracting the elderly - so why should it reinforce that trend by further skewing services in their favor?

Shouldn't it ensure that it also attracts younger people so it doesn't eventually become another Sun City?

PaulE said...

A balance should be struck between the demographic groups. Younger families locate to Oro Valley for a variety of reasons, not just related to parks and recreational facilities. Cost of living, taxation, public school quality and employment market all contribute to that decision making process. Public facilities are important to young and old, for differing reasons. It seems that any policy making would ensure adequate facilities for our retirees, while encouraging younger families as well. This means sufficient infrastructure for retirees, but investing public funds that tend to attract the younger set. This has the effect of increasing our tax base, incentivizing business growth in the area, thus allowing for managed growth that ultimately benefits everyone.

Another plus for attracting younger families would be reducing or eliminating the utility tax. This improves public school budgets, and demonstrates to prospective residents that the Town is committed to lower taxes. Is this a priority of the current Council? Does it have the will to consider such a possibility, or are we stuck with this "temporary" tax forever?

I digress, sorry.

OV Objective Thinker said...

The shortsighted view of the original post is another example of the failure of this blog to see the big picture. You continually want to live in the 'now' rather than take a forward look. You moved here so everything should be centered around you.

The community is making strong push for clean biotech and other related industry. That's not an industry the attracts older employees. In order for that to be successful you need to build for the future.

Kids and the younger generation are not "community center" folks. Just the term reeks of 'knit one, purl two' and the call of “B-15” coming from the 2 PM bingo gathering.

And I would agree that spending money on additional outdoor activities (parks) would not be necessary IF we had a sufficient amount of acreage currently devoted to that use. We simply don't. We are woefully inadequate in park space.

The Aquatic Center (a forward thinking project) is a great example of what can happen when we invest in out FUTURE. Why not build a similar type facility that will attract Little League and Softball tournaments for younger AND senior players? Not only will they be utilized year round but something like that will increase sales and bed tax in the community just the same as the Aquatic Center.

The sad fact is that there are far more activities for the older population than there are for our youth in Oro Valley.

OV Objective Thinker said...

Paul....I would venture to say that not one person has made a relocation decision based on the utility tax. It's just another in a large school of red herring tossed out by the LOVE readers.

WingsThree said...

OV Objective - not in isolation, but as a single consideration among many. Why don't we have a property tax? OV sales taxes are lower than in Tucson, another plus for us.Taxes can be an incentive or a disincentive, depending on how onerous (or not) they are.

Given the history of our utility tax, and the attitude held by some on our Council regarding it, this tax is certainly something home buyers/new residents should be aware of. It's a tax I wouldn't be bragging to my friends about if they were considering moving here.

OV Objective Thinker said...


The taxes one pays on their utilities is a very small amount annually....probablly less than $.50 a day. That's a buying decision???? I think not.

WingsThree said...

As I've already said, it's not a tax in isolation - no matter the amount, it's a money grab, particularly in this improved economic climate. And we're not even discussing the liability on local businesses and public schools, which certainly creates a trickle down effect to the rest of us. It's another grab at my wallet, for questionable reasons, and added to all my other tax liabilities, it's like a herpes sore that is apparently not going away anytime soon.

Prospective residents should be made aware of not only the tax itself, but the questionable history behind it.

Isn't it a bit of a slippery slope to justify a tax because it may seem minuscule to you?

Nombe Watanabe said...

The taxes one pays on their utilities is a very small amount annually....probablly less than $.50 a day. That's a buying decision???? I think not.

This the the most scarlet of all Red Fish. "it is only $.50 or $2.49 or whatever". Truth is all these so called small fees add up to a lot of money at the end of the year. Add to that the HOA fees (and the huge overhead of a HOA "management" company) plus the county property tax and you could be paying 50% of your monthly mortgage costs in additional "small fees."

Low taxes increase economic development. Which way do we want to go?

Christopher Fox said...

PaulE - Thank you for a well-reasoned expository. In your digression, however, it must be pointed out that this utility tax has become a de facto substitute for a property tax. The problem is, the council(s) that have allowed this travesty to continue are addicted to spending. As I have mentioned before, OV is like any bureaucracy; none that has or will ever exist understand the concept of restraint. Open the door for 'amenities,' and the dogs of taxation will be unleashed. The General Plan needs to address a vision for future amenities, along with a vision for paying for said amenities (property tax, fees, other?) in the event the Plan is approved by voters. If it does so, and is approved, I would be willing to consider a property tax, because the utility tax is, while marginally controllable, also somewhat regressive.

In the meantime, I wish John would sit down and crunch the numbers for the utility tax in comparison with a true property tax. How close does it come to being a de facto property tax. Would be glad to help him....

OV Objective Thinker said...

Nombe.....I would be the last to dispute, "Truth is all these so called small fees add up to a lot of money at the end of the year."

But we are talking about money used specifically to cover the operating expenses of Oro Valley. None of the county property taxes trickle down to cover the expenses of Oro Valley.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Thought you express here is certainly worth discussing. Should Oro Valley be an older community? Should Oro Valley Be a younger community? Perhaps, that is one dialogue that should take place as we, as a community, build the 2015 General Plan.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

OVOT. I am in 100 percent agreement. My HOA pays for the road maintenance in my community. I do not know how much money the town gets from the county.

I see the fire dept gets some money although some of it is from a bond issueI Does the OV police get any county money?

I do know that the county spends a ton of money on BS. But we cannot do anything about that.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Nombe.......We (Oro Valley) get nothing from the County....except grief and tax notices.