Thursday, June 11, 2020

Guest View-Mike Zinkin: The Town Manager's Recommended Budget Is Not For The Residents

The TMRB is for the staff
The Town Manager’s Recommended Budget ("TMRB") has little to offer the citizens, but instead caters to the town employees.

Really, should you pay 100% of employee benefits?
It is true that there are no merit/step increases this year due to the pandemic, however, the budget asks that the Town ("You") pay 100% of the employee’s health benefits, if they choose the high deductible option. The budget states on page 18 that the employer contribution to the employee’s health premiums is $3,220,753, while the employee contribution is a mere $571,509. The employer (you) are paying 85% of the health premiums. What other employer pays 85% of health costs in today’s environment, especially during a pandemic when revenues are strained?

Restore Steam Pump Ranch Garage for employee space?
The TMRB on page 114 states that $550,000 is set aside to restore the garage at Steam Pump ranch. The recent Capital Needs Assessment identified this need. However, the use of the restored garage was intended for the Oro Valley Historical Society, NOT for employee office space. Again the needs of the citizens take a back seat to staff.

Use Bed Tax revenues for non tourism purposes?
Do not let the Town Manager have free rein on those revenues.  Page iii of the TMRB states the desire for the Council to remove all restrictions on our bed tax revenues. Those restrictions have been in place since our incorporation and require that a certain percentage of the bed tax revenues be spent on promoting tourism.

Yet Again...No money to make the Community Center ADA compliant?
Remember, the Council mandated that the golf course improvements be implemented on a pay as you go model. There has never been an $800,000 positive balance in the Community Center Fund, especially after transferring $120,000 to the General Fund to pay the mandated payback for the original start-up and transferring $148,000 to pay the Energy Efficiency Bond. Where is this money going to come from? Where is the money to make the Community Center building ADA compliant?

Council,  join with me: "Get into the weeds!"
There is a budget commission in place made up of citizens to help represent the people. Meet with them and ask for their input. Mayor and Council members, for the sake of your constituents, question the TMRB and get into the weeds as there are some real problems in this document.