Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Oro Valley Council To Set Strategic Priorities Tonight

Two year horizon
Tonight, the Oro Valley Town Council will review and set strategic priorities for the town for the next two years. The document they are reviewing is called “The Strategic Leadership Plan.” It covers a two-year period of time. The plan sets priorities in seven areas (See panel that follows).
Part of the budget process
Approving the strategic leadership plan is part of the process that Town Manager Mary Jacobs developed while she was working with Mayor Hiremath. At that time, Jacobs used the council’s annual January strategic leadership retreat to introduce the concept of developing operating priorities based on that counsel‘s interpretation of the intent of the general plan. That is what the leadership plan includes. The last leadership plan was developed two years ago. The Winfield Council was in office for less than two months. COVID-19 had not yet happened.  So a new plan really is appropriate given these changes in circumstances.

Planning a "post pandemic" Oro Valley 
One of the goals of the plan is to transition the Oro Valley economy to a post pandemic era. Of course, no one knows what that will be so the plan will provide directions to proceed but not necessarily direction that the town will proceed in areas like economic development and in activities to attract retail and hospitality businesses to the community. These businesses that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

Focus on ESLO
Another area focus is to look at the towns “Environmentally Sensitive Land Ordinance (“ESLO”). It was passed in 2011. You can read its history here.

To some extent the ESLO is a barrier rampant, unbridled growth. This ordinance was approved by counsel encourage the wise use of land, avoiding the obliteration of hillsides for example. One of the objectives of the proposed strategic leadership plan is to evaluate the ordinance in relationship to “unintended consequences”. We’re not sure to what unintended consequences they refer, since these not stated in the document. It seems that perhaps the ordinance, if evaluated at all, should be evaluated against what it has accomplished. That is: How has the ordinance prevented the wanton distraction of land?

Funding police pension key financial focus area
In the area financial sustainability, and objective is to find a solution to the funding town's public safety retirement fund (PSPRS). This fund is managed by the State. Oro Valley’s pension is. underfunded.  Oro Valley would lead the entire state if it funded its plan completely, since 95% of our communities have severely under funded there public service pensions. The State should lead this effort for all communities.  For example, the State has the financial capacity to fund the plan and deduct each town’s share over, say 20 years, from State shared revenues.

The "buildout" bogeyman to drive annexation
Also included in the objectives in the financial area are to more fully understand what the “build out” of the town actually means financially. There are some on council who have said that the town will need a property tax to support itself is buildout is achieved. They assume that the town can’t find more efficient ways to deliver the same level of service. It also a promotes a “grow or die” philosophy. Thus, one of the areas the plan discusses is the continuing pursuit of high priority annexations.
Could be the final opportunity for some council members to opine
What the town Council decides this evening matters because it sets what town will pursue past the next council election. It may well be the last time that some members of council will have the opportunity to shape the future. I hope they do so and that they will do so wisely.