Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Oro Valley's 2015-16 Budget Defines A Larger, Growth-Focussed Community

Oro Valley continues on the path of becoming larger, growth focussed community.

Tonight the Oro Valley Town Council's will approve by at 4-3 vote a record setting $119.6 million budget. The budget spends $83 million, or almost $2,000 per capita, as we reported Monday.  This spending pays for many items. It is, as we previously reported, a huge jump in spending. 

Oro Valley's Budget implements a vision of a much larger community

This year's budget should not be any surprise to anyone who reads LOVE.

The budget is the implementation of a vision shared by the Majority-4 (Mayor Hiremath and Council Member's Hornat, Snider and Waters). It is a vision of a much larger community.

It is a vision shared in their election in 2010. It is vision they shared in their election of 2014. It is a a vision that they embodied in the Oro Valley 2015 startegic plan. This is plan that they alone approved. It is a plan that states that Oro Valley will:
    • Explore annexation opportunities
    • Partner with existing high-tech and biosciences businesses to determine expansion and supplier needs.
    • Explore the possibility of recruiting a satellite campus for a major university or other educational institution
    • Evaluate the development of an entertainment district that includes music, sports, museums, and private/nonprofit galleries;
    One of the goals of that plan is to: "Develop exceptional recreation and cultural facilities and programs that attract visitors and events that enhance residents’ quality of life and strengthens the economy."

    Why does Oro Valley want to bring tourists to Oro Valley? According to conversation we had in September with Mayor Hiremath, about one-third of Oro Valley's sales tax revenues now come from people who live outside Oro Valley town limits. The mayor's theory is that increasing this percent to 50%, for example, will increase Oro Valley's sales tax revenues with less of a burden on Oro Valley residents.

    There is every reason to believe that the Majority-4 will continue to move Oro Valley in the direction of growth and that growth will become a key element of the 2015 General Plan.

    Not All Oro Valley residents want Oro Valley to grow into a tourist mecca

    Oro Valley resident Shirl Lamonna spoke to the Oro Valley Town Council at the May 20 meeting. She share her view and desire that Oro Valley remain a vibrant, suburban community.

    Lamonna moved to Oro Valley to enjoy "...a quiet suburban life with the beautiful views of the mountains and limited traffic.

    Oro Valley has a great small town, suburban appeal. It’s been chosen as a top city for living, for families, for playfulness and even for launching a business. Oro Valley receives these awards because it offers better schools, public safety and an excellent quality of life – an escape from work, less traffic congestion, less crowding, opportunities for recreational and outdoor activities."

    Lamonna is concerned that the strategic plan's emphasis on attracting tourism will change the community.  "I don’t know of any town resident that has ever expressed a wish that Oro Valley were a better tourist destination. Nor do I recall such a question ever appearing in any survey of what residents want the Town leadership to pursue."

    Indeed, there is no mention of making Oro Valley a tourism mecca in the Oro Valley 2005 voter approved general plan.

    "Our needs are simple," she observed: "A 2014 Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Department survey identified the amenities desired as playgrounds, picnic areas and sports fields for our families to use. We’re not asking for event centers and amphitheaters. We’re not looking to attract crowds that will ultimately cost us more for public safety, roads, operations and maintenance."

    "We don’t want to become a Glendale whose bet on becoming the Phoenix area’s sports and entertainment hub resulted in higher taxes, firing of employees and rising penalties on its debt...Glendale is “a good example -- and hopefully a warning sign to others -- that when you deviate from your core purpose, you increase your risk.”

    2015 General Plan Draft Lays Out Vision
    Clearly, not everyone who lives in Oro Valley wants substantial growth. There are other options.

    Read about what the 2015 draft general plan envisions for Oro Valley.

    What kind of community do you want Oro Valley to be?

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