Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Editorial: Town Council Motto ~ Staff recommends, therefore I vote affirmatively.

For those of you that have ever read a staff report that accompanies a Town Council agenda item, you will notice that staff rarely gives a report that is not in line with what they perceive the Council desires. Staff also gives recommendations on reports prepared for the various Boards and Commissions, including the Board of Adjustment (BOA). These recommendations are unnecessary given that the BOA makes their decisions based on criteria set forth by the State.

The staff report covers all the areas of the subject item that need to be considered before an educated vote can be taken on the item. Items that staff reports on include background, compliance with the General Plan, compliance with the Town's codes, neighborhood meeting input, and fiscal impact. The Council receives this report at least seven days prior to the actual meeting. This affords the members of the Council ample time to read, research, and ask questions of staff, and reach out to other elected officials to ascertain how their community dealt with a similar situation in order to make an independent informed vote.

Recommendations are not the Staff’s job
According to our Mayor and Council, we have a staff that are the best and the brightest. They are the experts in their chosen field. Regardless of expertise, it is not the staff's job to make the decision, it is the Council's. The "best and brightest" staff does a superb job in providing the Council with the accumulated data on any given agenda item. That should be the extent of the staff's job. It is the job of the Council to review the information and make a decision. The staff is not accountable for the final decision, and, therefore, should not have a part in the decision. Their job is to provide all the information required for the Council to make the decision.

The path of least resistance
Our Council is lazy. They have never gone against the staff recommendation. It’s probably safe to say that the "Executive Summary" is all they read. Additionally, although they are not elected officials, the staff leads all the decisions for Oro Valley. This is especially important during the discussions regarding the budget.

Between now and when the final budget is adopted on June 7th, watch and see if the Council makes any significant changes to the Town Manager's Recommended Budget. As noted in previous LOVE articles (“Beware of the Town Manager’s Recommended Budget” and “Fiscal Responsibility - It’s not in our nature”) the budget is loaded with elements that could be cut or reallocated to more desired items.

Editor’s Note: The quote, “I think, therefore I am” (Rene Descartes, 1637) was the inspiration for the title of this article. “Staff recommends, therefore I vote affirmatively” has been the motto of the Majority-4 since taking office in 2010 and continues to be the motto of the Majority-7.