Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guest View-Council Member Mike Zinkin: "Oro Valley Spending Lacks Fiscal Restraint"

On July 1, a salary adjustment was awarded all Oro Valley town employees. The adjustment was a minimum of 2%.  Some employees (such as theEconomic Development Manager, the Town Clerk, the Human Resources Director, and Finance Manager) received adjustments closer to 6%. Keep in mind that the Town's contribution to the employee retirement in a percentage of their salary. As the salary goes up, the retirement contribution goes up.

This adjustment is for "non-sworn" employees only. The "sworn personnel" received a similar increase, based on the same study, when the majority voted for the Police memorandum of understanding.
Source: Town of Oro Valley

Between now and next June 30, every Oro Valley employee also will receive a merit increase. This increase will range from 3.5%, for an acceptable rating, to 4% for an outstanding rating. This adjustment does not allow for future Cost of Living ("COLA's").  In lieu of COLA's the employee will receive a merit increase ranging from 3.5 - 4%.

Then consider the fringe benefits received by the town's employees: A free health clinic, free health insurance, free dental insurance, and free vision insurance. Plus, overtime paid for hours scheduled in lieu of hours actually worked.

Doing all of this does not allow Oro Valley to over-seed our parks in the winter, restore Steam Pump Ranch, or engage in any other citizen-centric improvement.

The spending spiral must end.

I want to be clear.  I have never said not to give our employees a raise. In fact, I said give them a 2% increase and their step/merit increases; not an adjustment into a different system.  Yes, our employees had some years without raises, but that was driven by the economy.

Let the economy establish the baseline for increases, not the towns to which Oro Valley was compared in a questionable 2014 comparative wage salary study.  80% of the towns included in this study have both a Primary and Secondary Property Tax. Is this where the majority of council want to take Oro Valley?  Most of these towns are located in Maricopa County.  The average population of the towns is over 117,000, almost 3 times the population of Oro Valley.

On July 7,  Council Member's Bill Garner, Brendan Burns, and I sent a formal request to Town Manager Caton to determine what this year's Oro Valley employee "salary adjustment" is in real dollars.  We await his response.

In the meantime, it is time for the  council majority (Mayor Hiremath and Council Member's Hornat, Snider and Waters), in their role as candidates for office, to explain their rational for their vote to allow all of this to occur.

The council majority will tout "improvements" in the Aquatic Center and the Naranja Park fields. These were funded by dipping into Oro Valley's savings. This reckless spending does not allow us to live within our means. We even have to dip into savings (Contingency Reserves) for a software update and a purchase of a triple wide trailer.

Don't let these "improvements" overshadow the fact that Oro Valley is living beyond its means and that it is forecasted to continue to do so.
You can learn more about Council Member Zinkin by visiting the  Town of Oro Valley town web site.


Richard Furash, MBA said...

Well stated councilman. For transparency purposes why cannot all residents see the total cost of the raises on the town web site? the explorer just advertised some new town apps and a new position to build this service. Why not a simple annual cash flow app that outlines changes from the baseline. Seems simple to me?

Richard Furash, MBA said...

A Relative Newcomer

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I've just read that TOV is poised to create a special class of citizens via the health care facility slated to go into operation in January, 2015.
Where is the mandate that the town council can do such a thing? When did TOV voters weigh in that this was an appropriate perk to TOV compensation packages?

Does the town council not realize that this "perk" is over the top, and will do nothing but create class conflict among town citizens? Since when are TOV employees (and that includes the entire police department & their families) designated more important in their health needs than the average TOV resident?
I am shocked that this point was NOT brought up at the first debate; the subject was skirted around - but it deserves a through airing in future discussions, most notably the Sun City meeting.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Well said.