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.
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.