Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Contributor Opinion: Council Needs To Own The “Big Decisions"

After all these years, the Community Center is not ADA compliant 
But, we do have a traffic light  that cost $1 million, a monument sign ($85K), improvements to the driving range ($75K) and some information technology fixes ($50K).

The decision to spend on all of these things was made by town staff; not by town council.

Apparently, in the minds of town staff, ADA accessibility at the Oro Valley Community center is much less important to our residents than any of those things.

Look back to 2015
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The town budget included a $1.1 million allotment in the Capital Improvement Program for the Community Center (See right panel). Approximately half of this allotment was to be used to address ADA and code compliance safety issues. Upon a request from then Councilmember Burns, the $1.1 million was broken down as to how exactly it was to be spent (See panel below).

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On many occasions, the council at that time stated that Town Manager Caton and town staff were top notch professionals. Therefore, there was no need for the council to get involved in the details.

That council did not get involved in the details.

Staff was left to make the decisions.

Now, we see the results of their thinking.

Forward to 2020
Ask yourself...
Should staff be trusted with being the sole decider of Code decisions? Because that is what will happen if town council approves the staff’s Community Economic Development Strategy. The strategy includes requested Code changes that will allow for staff approval on items that currently require Town Council approval. Some that even now require community involvement will be curtailed.

We have historical evidence of what happens when you put too much trust in staff to do the right thing. Staff is there to support the Council and to carry out the Council’s policy. The Town Council must ensure that staff is complying with the approved policies.

The mayor and town council need to regain the helm and take charge of the Oro Valley government. And they need to do it now! Because the Council needs to own the big decisions.