Mayor Satish Hiremath delivered his sixth annual "State Of The Town" address at the El Conquistador Country Resort and County club yesterday.
The address is a fundraising event for the chamber. Speaking to an audience of about 650 people, about a quarter of which were either visiting dignitaries or Oro Valley town employees, the mayor touted what he considers to be his key accomplishment during his term: Changing Oro Valley from a retirement community to a community for everyone.
Hiremath reveals the Oro Valley formula for success
According to Hiremath, Oro Valley faced a financial dilemma when he took office in 2010. He adopted a bold strategy: Grow the town.
environmentally sensitive land ordinance, an ordinance that encourages cluster homes and the set aside of contiguous undisturbed desert. This, he says, increased rooftops which drew retailers to the community. Increasing the number of retailers then resulted in increased sales tax revenues. The town also encourages sports tourism in Oro Valley. This adds more sales revenues. Growing sales tax revenues is important, according to Hiremath, because half of Oro Valley's general fund revenues are from the sales tax. Without sales tax growth, Mayor Hiremath believes the town would need a property tax.
Fact: In five years, sales tax revenues grew from $13.1 to $15.7 million, an increase of $2.6 million or 20%. This is a compound annual growth rate of 3.7%.
Hiremath wants to "accelerate" growth through a Pima County property tax increase
Mayor Hiremath points to an "understanding" between the town and Arizona State University as evidence that his growth strategies work. ASU will take space in a business accelerator. They will do so if and when one is built.
A business accelerator is a place for start-up companies. Its location in Oro Valley will bring jobs to Oro Valley, according to the mayor.
The mayor did not mention that getting this business accelerator requires voter approval of a property tax. The business accelerator building is included in the 2015 Pima County bond package. Pima County voters will have to vote for this increased property tax in November's bond election in order to get the funds to build the facility.
Mayor Hiremath also points to a commitment by the University of Arizona to house a doctoral in veterinary medicine program in Oro Valley. This program is not yet operational. It requires that the State of Arizona fund it.
Hiremath stated that it was necessary to approve the building of almost 1,000 apartments during his terms in order to accommodate the living needs of mobile professionals. He asserts, as we have previously reported, that younger people no longer want to own homes.
"Who would ever have thought that one day both Arizona State University and the University of Arizona would have a strong presence in our community?"
Oro Valley is a community by design
"Deliberate decisions were made to insure that we would have the infrastructure and momentum for a collaborative community of innovators. These things don't happen by accident. They are by design...Everything
that we have done since 2010 has been done with intention."
The purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club is a "game changing milestone in Oro Valley history"
"Our boldest move yet was purchasing the El Conquistador country club this year and converting it into the Oro Valley community and recreation center. This acquisition includes... a 50,000 square foot building". (ed. note: This calculation is the total of the basement space [golf cart storage], the first floor space, and the second floor space [restaurant and meeting room])
Hiremath refers to the El Conquistador Country Club purchase as a designed action even though, according to him last year, it came about suddenly and had to be approved immediately.
We wonder: Is plunging Oro Valley into competition with local restaurants and private golf clubs by design? If so, then this may have been a "bad design".
The Hiremath goal: Transform Oro Valley
Hiremath's community by design is the implementation of a vision of the town; a vision that he asserts is "shared" by the people. It is a transformation of Oro Valley from a retirement community to a community for everyone.
Hiremath: "Some believe that their individual rights supercede the rights of the greater good"
Mayor Hiremath vision of how things should work is defined as "collectivism." "Collectivism" is a "system" in which individual rights are subordinated to the "rights" of some group.
Hiremath asserted that those who disagrees with the vision or its implementation simply do not understand the "big picture." If they did, one could surmise, he thinks they would most certainly agree.
Those who disagree should, he asserts, go along with his decisions in order to serve the "common good;" even if they think it would be wrong for them as individuals.
Hiremath: "Great communities are created when 41,000 people act as one."
Hiremath: "Your entire council should be pulling in the same direction."
"It has been said that disagreement on council is good. I don't accept that. Discussion is good but constant disagreement is not. It is not consensus. It is not compromise. And it is not cooperation.... Once a decision is made, your entire council should be pulling in the same direction."
We wonder if the Mayor would say the same thing if he were always on the short-end of a 4-3 vote. Because, when you are the council majority, there is never the need for you to seek cooperation and accommodation with the minority. In other words, you never have to go along with something you think is wrong.
You can watch Mayor Hiremath's speech on line.