Thursday, June 29, 2017

Guest View: Mike Zinkin ~ Surprise! The 5-year plan is now a 6-year plan.

The June 28, 2017 edition of the Explorer reported on the recent Council decision allowing another $350,000 transfer from the General Fund to the Community and Recreation Center Fund (CRC). Of note is that $120,000 of this money will be utilized to pay back the Council’s obligation to repay $120,000 per year back to the General Fund to refund the $1.2 million that they withdrew in 2015 to initiate the CRC Fund.

The Shell Game
So, in essence, the Council took another $350,000 from the General Fund in order to pay back $120,000 to the same fund. This is a prime example of a government shell game.

The article goes on to say that the reason the Council did not pay back the $120,000 last year was because of "poorer than expected performance.” We had poorer than expected performance again this year as well, which is why the only way they could make this year’s payment was to move some shells around.

Mayor Hiremath had no problem with the additional funds being withdrawn from the General Fund, despite asserting on multiple occasions that the CRC Fund (funded with the increased sales tax generating $2 million per year) would pay for all Community Center expenses (golf, tennis, swimming, food and beverage).

June 2017 ~ Hiremath changes his story
"I have stated publicly time and time again, that this is a six year process. It's like buying a fixer-upper house, we’re not going to break even within the first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth year. I think that the story here is that we are holding true.”

(Six years from the Community Center’s inception in May 2015 would take us to May 2021 before he expects to make a profit).

Au contraire
Since 2014, “Hiremath and Associates” have been telling us repeatedly that this is a 5-year plan. In fact, during the December 17, 2014 council meeting, the night that the Town Council voted to acquire the El Con property, Mayor Hiremath said:
“We’re telling you that in the first two years, we’re going to lose major money, but by Year-3 and Year-4…In year 4 and 5 and 6, are we going to project a profit? You’re darn right, we are.”
So in 2014, he clearly stated that they wouldn’t be losing money by years 3 and 4 and they expected a profit in years 4, 5, and 6. In 2017, seeing that we’re still losing money, he now admits that we’re not going to break even in the 4th or even the 5th year and he now wants us to believe that this has always been a 6-year plan.

The Majority-4 Battle Cry
LOVE readers will also remember the multitude of times in 2015-2016 that Councilmembers Zinkin, Garner, and Burns tried to discuss options for dealing with the dismal Community Center financials, only to be dismissed every time with the Majority-4 battle cry, “This is a 5-year plan.”

Pina-Rodman-Solomon never mentioned a 6-year plan
During the 2016 Town Council Election, then-challengers and current council members, Rhonda Pina, Bill Rodman, and Steve Solomon were also peddling the 5-year or less plan.

PINA: “I think the year that we’ve had (2015-2016) was a little volatile. Let’s give it another year and maybe another year after that.” (So Pina’s cut off point would be 3 years / 2018).

RODMAN: "Initially it was a 5-year plan and it wasn't intended to make money during that period of time, so all of this uproar about trying to make a decision now is probably premature."

SOLOMON: “For a project of this size, I would give it 5 years and I would really start giving it a close look in years 3, 4, and 5.”

How’s this for a close look?
Including all the revenues from the increased sales tax and the withdrawals from the General Fund, so far this investment has cost the Citizens of Oro Valley over $6.8 million. And what do we have to show for it? A 1980’s building that is still not ADA compliant, two golf courses closed for the summer, and a restaurant that is on track to lose another $100,000 this fiscal year (July 2016 through June 2017).

If Humberto Lopez believed that he had a money-maker in a run-down building and three golf courses, he never would have unloaded them on the Town. and your cohorts on Council were duped and the citizens of Oro Valley are paying the price.

Mike Zinkin has a Bachelor’s degree in history and government from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from California State University, Northridge. He was a commissioned ensign in the United States Navy Reserve in 1969. He worked as an Air Traffic Controller for 30 years. He and his wife moved to Oro Valley after retiring in 1998. Mike served on the Oro Valley Development Review Board from 2005-2009, the Board of Adjustment from 2011-2012, and the Town Council from 2012-2016. During his time on council, he was named as one of 23 Leadership Fellows for the National League of Cities University, he was a member of the National League of Cities Steering Committee for Community and Economic Development, and a member of the Arizona League of Cities Budget and Economic Development Committee.