Thursday, April 18, 2024

Bits and Pieces

Town Manager 2025 Recommended Budget out soon
Town Manager Wilkins and staff are putting the final touches on the 2024-25 town budget. It is a complicated effort, covering all of the town's ten plus funds.  Look for the document to be available by the end of the month, followed by town council study sessions. Can't make the sessions? Don't worry.... we will.

Next Tuesday: "Financial Headwinds in the offing starting in 2026"; a focus on a precursor to the budget: The town's five year financial forecast of four key funds.

Friends of Pusch Ridge Golf sponsor April 26 "Birthday Bash"
Join us on Friday April 26, 2024 for this exclusive event sponsored by the Friends of Pusch Ridge Golf. We are celebrating three major milestones with this celebration: the end of Year 3 after our course’s exciting re-opening in 2021; 40 years of golf at Pusch Ridge since it’s original opening; and the Town of Oro Valley’s 50-year birthday! 3-40-50 reasons to celebrate!" Learn more here
(Source: Friends of Pusch Ridge Golf media release)

Local group seeks "Performing Arts Center"
For years, the town has considered creating a performing arts center. In fact, it was one of the centerpieces in the original designs of Naranja Park. Several weeks ago, the town council, while considering changes to the town's Community and Economic Development Strategy, entertained audience cards. Members of the Oro Valley Theatre Company were in attendance. Council Member Mo Greene is a member of the theatre company board,
along with Judi Rodman, the spouse of former Council Member Bill Rodman, and former council candidate Charlie Hurt. 

Speaking at the meeting, Gene Abravaya (Theatre Company Board Member) noted:  "The company deserves a home of its own--A place to perform, as well as all the other performing arts organizations in Oro Valley and the surrounding area."  The council took no action.

Celebrate 50 years by planting 50 trees across four Oro Valley parks, April 27
The Town of Oro Valley invites all community members to help us celebrate the Town’s 50th Anniversary by joining us for the "50 Trees for 50 Years" community tree planting event on Saturday, April 27, starting at 9 a.m.

This event promises to be a memorable occasion, bringing together neighbors, friends and families to contribute to the beautification of our community.

Roll up your sleeves and be a part of history as we plant 50 trees across four locations in Oro Valley:
  • James D. Kriegh (JDK) Park, 23 W. Calle Concordia 
  • Naranja Park, 810 W. Naranja Drive 
  • Riverfront Park, 551 W. Lambert Lane and 
  • Steam Pump Ranch, 10901 N. Oracle Road
Staff will be stationed at blue tents at each park, ready to assist and guide participants in the planting process. The trees will vary in size, but most will be small at approximately three-to-six feet in height and one-to-two inches in diameter, with 15-gallon tree bases. Event participants will help place a few shovelfuls of dirt to complete the planting process. (Source: Town of Oro Valley Media Release)

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Oro Valley Built Water Reserves in Fiscal 2023

Water's Annual Report gives glimpse into water operations 
Oro Valley Water Director Peter Abraham emphasized the efficient management of water resources as a cornerstone of community sustainability earlier this month in his remarks to the town council. 

Abraham was presenting the utility’s fiscal 2024 Annual Report. An annual report is required by Article 15-4-5 of the town code. "It's prepared by the Water Utility staff, the commission reviews and comments on the report. Town staff renders a report to town council on behalf of the commission and the report becomes a public document once accepted by the council.”

A dedicated team of professionals keeps everything working
The operational backbone of the water utility lies in its dedicated teams, particularly the water operations group, which oversees metering, distribution, production, water quality, and control systems. Their steadfast commitment ensures the reliability and efficiency of the town's water infrastructure. (See panel right)

Serving 21,300 accounts 
In terms of customer service, the water utility served more than 21,300 accounts with prompt billings, cash receipts processing, and addressing customer inquiries. Furthermore, through an intergovernmental agreement with Pima County, the utility does monthly billing for Pima County Wastewater, increasing its revenue streams.

Has 35,000 acre feet of drinking water reserves
Water resource management remained a focal point, with prudent use of Oro Valley’s three main sources of potable water: Groundwater, CAP water, and reclaimed water. (See panel left) The town has accumulated 35,000 acre feet of long-term storage credits. That's almost six years of water production!

“We continue to buy our full CAP allocation, and we continue to store unused CAP water for future use if we need it….”  Last year, the utility:
  • Used CAP water to replace the 4,925 acre-ft. of groundwater pumped 
  • Stored approximately 2,807 Acre-ft. of CAP water for future use (Drinking water Reserves)
  • Stored approximately 10 Acre-ft. of reclaimed water for future use (reclaimed water reserve
“Between the entitlement or the allocation of CAP water we have of 10,305 acre feet a year, you subtract out replacing the groundwater we pumped and the deliveries we directly delivered. The rest of that we stored in nearby underground aquifer storage facilities, and that was about 2,800 acre feet of that unused CAP water was stored and became long-term storage credits. That goes to our long-term storage credit account, so that account now is just under 35,000 acre feet, so that's great.”

Conservation focus….60% of leaks are from irrigation
Conservation efforts were also paramount, with extensive community outreach and education programs aimed at promoting water efficiency and responsible usage. “Over 8,000 automated alerts were sent to registered users in 2023, and 60% of the leaks were, as confirmed by customers, were related to irrigation leaks, so this is one of the areas we focus with our customers is operating and maintaining their irrigation system and keeping it in good operating form.”

Financial sustainability 
Financially, the water utility maintained stability and resilience despite its operational demands. With two utility funds, the Enterprise Operating Fund and the Water Resources System Development Impact Fee Fund, the utility effectively managed its debt obligations of $18.3 million. Annual debt service is $3.8 million. The water utility's bond ratings from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's is AA and AA+ respectively, meaning that debt is considered of low default risk and that the utility has a strong capacity to service its debt.  
- - -

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Jaegar Paints "Rosy Picture" of Oro Valley Amphi School Student Performance...But

An optimistic view
On April 3, Superintendent Todd Jaegar of the Amphitheater United School District provided a comprehensive update to the Oro Valley Town Council, highlighting key developments and initiatives within the district.

Jaegar thanks Oro Valley for its contribution to the School District Expressing gratitude for Oro Valley's invaluable support, Jaegar underscored the impact of the town's $100,000 contribution, which has facilitated notable enhancements across various educational facilities. These improvements include the establishment of a preschool playground at Ironwood High School, the expansion of preschool play areas at CDO, and the creation of a cutting-edge "STEAM" room at CDO, fostering hands-on, interdisciplinary learning in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Additionally, Jaegar lauded Oro Valley's pioneering Resource Officer Program, emphasizing the crucial role it plays in fostering a safe and secure learning environment. “We have here in the town in terms of the level of SRO support and also the relationship that we have with the SRO program and the police department itself here in Oro Valley. We've been in the situation where just a couple of years ago where the only jurisdiction that was supporting its community through the presence of SROs in the community schools was Oro Valley.”

Jaegar says district students outperform peers…
Jaegar’s opened his discussion with council saying that: “Our school district as a whole outperforms its peer districts as well as the state average district in terms of our student performance measures.” He focused on the State Department of Education “grade” system where they “grade” each school on an overall basis. He stated that all of the schools within town limits are rated “A”. He was incorrect. Ironwood High Schools’ overall state determined grade is a “B”. It earned an “A” the prior year. (Source of information:

…He fails to note lackluster student achievement results 
Based on the same grading system, less than 60% of students attending Oro Valley’s Amphi Schools are academically proficient at their grade level. (See Chart) At IRHS, 47% of students at that school are academically proficient. The comparative statistic for CDO is 58% proficiency. Student academic proficiency at Basis Oro Valley is 85%. Basis Oro Valley is not part of the district

Yes. Students a both Oro Valley High Schools perform far better than Amphi High School’s 11% student proficiency score. So Oro Valley’s high schools bring up the school district average dramatically!

There are better performing public high schools in the region. For example, Catalina Foothills High School students test at 78% student proficiency level. Three are also worse performing schools like Marana (40%) and Sahuarita (46%). Hopefully, those are not the standards to which Jaegar refers when he says Amphi District outperforms peers.

Oro Valley’s middle and elementary schools show similar lackluster student academic results. Middle and elementary students going in schools in the Catalina Foothills School District achieve higher academic results (Manzanita Elementary: 72%; Orange Grove and Esparero Middle Schools: 66%).

Want to do your own comparisons? Click here 

The Amphi “Portrait of a Graduate” 
Jaegar outlined the district's steadfast commitment to nurturing well-rounded graduates equipped with essential skills for success in an ever-evolving world. The District developed the Portrait of a Graduate (panel left) in concert with business leaders, parents, and students. The concept identifies the need that graduates have "soft skills" such as critical thinking, the ability to collaborate, creativity, communication skills , a desire for community involvement, and problem-solving skills. The goal is to ensure that every graduate leaves with a well-rounded education that prepares them to be productive citizens capable of tackling real-world challenges.

Staffing and funding: A forever complaint 
Jaegar concluded his council briefing by addressing ongoing concerns regarding insufficient funding for teacher salaries and essential capital purchases, as well as the challenges encountered in teacher recruitment: “Most certainly one of the areas that we have to grapple with here in Arizona is the difficulties we have as a State in recruiting staff to our state whether that's school bus drivers or competent and qualified highly certificated teachers. It is very hard for school districts to compete number one with districts in other states, but even for staff that might be also hired by the private sector.”
- - -

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Bits and Pieces

Barrett: Should the town rename the Community Center Fund?
At last week's council meeting, Vice Mayor Barrett reacted to a comment made by Council Member Solomon. Solomon has repeatedly complains that half of the half percent Hiremath Community Center sales tax no longer goes to support golf only.  

"I usually listen to this argument and let it pass, but I don't feel like I can tonight," Barrett noted. "The community center fund sales tax was passed unilaterally by council on a four-to-three vote. This council, on a six-to-zero vote, expanded the use of that sales tax with the exact same authority that passed it to begin with; through the same mechanisms, and ordinances. So continually saying that the community center fund sales tax is just for the community center and the golf courses is just not the case.” That expanded use of these sales tax monies also now goes to funding Naranja Park and other park-related amenities. "It probably shouldn't even be called the community center fund anymore, because now that can be allocated to parks and recreation."

Tiny Bits
  • Naranja will likely have its grand reopening in May (Source: Town Manager Wilkins)
  • Ashley Furniture is now "Lounge By Levitz"
  • Council voted to reduce town's Historical Preservation Commission" from seven to five members. Lack of resident interest in being on the Commission was the primary reason 
Big 50th Anniversary Celebration Saturday
The Town of Oro Valley invites residents and visitors alike to join us for the 50th Anniversary Community Celebration at James D. Kriegh Park this Saturday, April 13, 2024, beginning at noon and concluding with a fireworks finale at 9:30 p.m. JDK Park is located at 23 W. Calle Concordia. (Source: Town of Oro Valley Press Release)
- - -

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Pusch View Golf: "In For a Penny. In For a Pound."

In for a penny. In for a pound.” 
The expression "In for a penny, In for a pound" means that if you have already committed to doing something, you might as well go all the way and fully commit to it, rather than holding back. That is exactly what the Oro Valley Town Council did last week.

Council approves "Hole 7" bridge replacement...
Faced with a staff created "emergency," last week the council approved a bridge that will cost  $390,000 for the Pusch Ridge 9-hole golf course. This is the same course they narrowly (4-3) voted to keep operating in February.  As we reported last week, the "emergency" was created by town staff's failure to personally inspect the facility before the council decision to keep the course open. It was a complete mess-up on the part of Town Manager Wilkins and his staff. 

Council rejected staff’s solution
The approval of the bridge replacement is a rejection of the staff’s less costly recommendation in two respects. First, the staff had recommended that the bridge be removed and a walk around through the wash and up the hills be implemented. In addition, the staff wanted to also replace some irrigation piping in doing this. However, the Council approved replacing the bridge. There will be no replacement of irrigation.

Second, staff had recommended that the funds for this project be taken from the general fund of the town. However, the council approved taking the money from the "community center" fund, which has separate sales tax funding. Town staff projects that the balance of the community center fund will be $1 million at the end of the fiscal year after this expenditure.

Staff insisted. If you want this bridge you must replace it... not repair it.
The reason the council approved replacing the bridge is that there is no way for town staff to determine what it would cost to repair the bridge. This is because the “bargain" that the town got when it purchased the golf courses in 2016 didn't come with any documentation on the construction of that bridge, or any other bridge on that course, or the irrigation that exists on the course today. So there was no way for staff to determine if the supports would work with a repaired bridge. 

Staff rejected the recommendations of residents who spoke at the meeting. According to staff, none of these considered the fully installed cost or the strength of the supports.

$390,000 in the "blink of an eye" won't come so easy in the future....
The town has been spending a tremendous amount of money on parks. It has been flush with cash since it bonded $25 million in funds for parks and received tens of millions of federal dollars for other uses. Those days are past. The 2025 budget will show some of those leftover monies but the majority of town funding will have to come from ongoing revenue sources. And we expect budgets will get tighter as time goes on.
- - -

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Latest OVCN Shenanigans

Below is an excerpt of a speech given by Oro Valley resident, Tim Tarris, during the Call to Audience at the April 3rd Town Council Meeting. We added the subheadings.

My name is Tim Tarris and I am a resident of Oro Valley. I live directly across the street to the west from the Oro Valley Church of the Nazarene [OVCN].

I would like to make reference to some of the activities that take place in our neighborhood. Please keep in mind that the word of the day is “shenanigans.”

Merriam-Webster defines shenanigans as: 1. A devious trick used especially for an underhanded purpose; 2. A tricky or questionable practice or conduct usually used in plural and/or high-spirited or mischievous activity.

The church’s new plan – Bypass the neighbors and the Town Council
The church, taking advantage of our vaguely worded town codes, has now changed course to try and continue their expansion. Their new plan would bypass the 14 neighbors who signed and submitted their objections in order to have the new application approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission (appointed officials) and bypass the Town Council (elected officials).

Fear of heights
We have been told they wish to build a new sanctuary (with basketball courts included) that will seat 1500 people. They will most likely be asking for a height variance of up to 45 feet. This begs the question -- “Is it a 25-foot building with a 20-foot cross on top or a 44-foot building with a 1-foot cross on top?”

What’s next? A 3-story parking garage?

Fifteen hundred more people, at two people per car, equals 750 more cars than now. At three people per car, it equals 500 more cars than now, per event. That level of activity in a residential neighborhood kind of boggles the mind.

They are also discussing making the former Tellez property into parking for 350 cars. My 9th grade math teacher, Mrs. Stevens, would say, “Go back and figure it out again.”

The sheer volume of things
On Saturday, March 30th, they held their annual Easter Egg hunt. Many people attended for several hours. Of note was over 50 cars that were parked in the right-of-way along Calle Buena Vista, off and on during the event, even though the church professes to have “enough parking.” Of course, if you use all of Pima County for your organization’s parking, you will have enough.

Additionally, while working in my concrete block and insulated garage (located 500 feet from the music source used during the event), I was able to "enjoy" the entire event due to the volume.

Does anybody see what’s going on here?


Friday, April 5, 2024

Information on Tomorrow's 50th Celebration Parade

Oro Valley's 50th Anniversary Parade is tomorrow
The Town of Oro Valley invites residents and visitors alike to join us for the 50th Anniversary Parade, this Saturday, April 6, 2024, from 9 a.m. to approximately 11:30 a.m. along Naranja Drive. The parade route begins near Ironwood Ridge High School, runs east along Naranja Drive, and ends at the Oro Valley Public Library. Details on parking can be found below.

The precession
The procession includes a variety of entries that showcase the Oro Valley community, such as: the Canyon del Oro High School marching band, CDO pom line, Ironwood Ridge High School spirit line, local dance troops, youth sports teams, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, local churches, Oro Valley Town Councilmembers, and many local businesses.

Traffic delays and road closing
Residents are advised that there will be traffic delays along Naranja Drive from 5 a.m. to approximately 11:30 a.m. on parade day. Access to Naranja Drive will be closed along the parade route, from Shannon Road to La Cañada Drive. Motorists are advised to use caution when approaching Naranja Drive and to use alternative neighborhood exits where possible. The Oro Valley Police Department will be assisting those exiting their neighborhoods. Click here or see below for a parade route and road closure map.

A parade announcer’s stage will be located on the northwest corner of Naranja and La Cañada.

  • Town Hall/Municipal Complex, 11000 N. La Cañada Dr. 
  • Community & Recreation Center, 10555 N. La Cañada Dr. 
  • Ironwood Ridge High School, 2475 W. Naranja Dr. Public (East Lot Only)
    • Parking is Prohibited at the IRHS Theater Building lot and at the Administration Building lot 
  • You may park on any public side street off Naranja Drive where parking is not currently prohibited. When parking on a public street, please mind the following: 
    • Do not block a residential driveway. Leave no less than 20 feet of available roadway for the free movement of vehicular traffic (TOV Code 11-4-3). Do not park within 30 feet on the approach to any stop sign, yield sign or traffic control signal located at the side of a roadway (A.R.S. 28-873).
The Town of Oro Valley officially marks its 50th Anniversary on April 15, 2024."
(Source: Town of Oro Valley Media Release)
- - -