Green shirts to storm council
Tonight, the Oro Valley Town Council will consider going beyond the half cent sales tax levy to fund golf course improvements. It is not a question of whether to fund these improvements. It is a question of how to fund these improvements, either through borrowing or through the existing revenue stream..
Tonight, however, you will see, in council, the town owned golf course community flood the council chamber to convince council to borrow money to fix their course. Rather than being content with a victory that saw the town keep 36-holes of golf, they’ve chosen to keep pressing for everything.
They are so passionate about this, that one of them took out recall papers on the Mayor and Vice Mayor because both have said that they don't think that the town should borrow money for the refurbishments.
Like spoiled children, they are tethered to their beliefs without any consideration or caring to what yet added funding does to the rest of Oro Valley’s recreation. They may be good neighbors to each other, but they are most certainly not good neighbors to the rest of the community.
Oro Valley residents pay a dedicated half cent sales tax for golf
Oro Valley increased its sales tax by a half cent in 2015 to pay to operate its now municipal golf courses. This amounts to approximately $2.2 million annually. It is 20% of the Oro Valley local sales tax. It is the only recreational facility that has its own dedicated stream of income.
Oro Valley got this tax increase because a property tax was not an option
In conversations with LOVE In 2015, former Mayor Hiremath told LOVE that he wanted to purchase a community center and that the town needed added funds to pay for its operation. He told us that the options were a sales tax or a property tax. He said that he felt that the sales tax was the best way to go because people living out of Oro Valley would also pay for it.
Hiremath knew that residents would never approve a property tax to pay for his adventurous purchase from his major campaign contributor. So he circumvented public involvement by a 4-3 council vote.
Current Council never considered sales tax reduction
Lost in any discussion of the town's ownership and operation of 36 holes of golf a months ago was the fact that residents pay this dedicated half cent sales tax to support it. Lost was any consideration of whether is was fair for them to do so. Only one council member, Vice Mayor Barrett, mentioned it during the six months of what seemed like endless and sometimes mindless discussion.
We asked Mayor Winfield how he thought people viewed paying this added sales tax. “It’s hard to say. Some people feel good about it. Some people don’t feel good about it. My interest is to reduce the tax subsidy. I would hope that we could get to point where we could reduce the sale tax or eliminate it.”
Apparently, the current council felt no need to even consider this factor in their deliberations at this time. After all, the tax is in place so why bother with it.
If these funds had not been in place, would not their decision have been different? That is, no half cent sales tax... perhaps 18 holes of golf at best, or, perhaps, no golf all.