Tuesday, May 14, 2024

2025 TMRB: 80% Of Spending By “The Big Four” Departments

"The Big Four”-Water, Public Works, Public Safety, Parks
$115 million will be allocated in 2025 by four departments according to the 2024 Town Manager Recommended Budget ("TMRB"). The departments are Water, Public Works, Police, and Parks and Recreation. This is based on LOVE’s combined spending analysis of the TMRB (an explanation of our methodology is provided at the conclusion of this article).

Here’s is what is “driving” the spending

Water: $41.2 million
More than half of the total water spending of $41.2 million is allocated for capital items. The most significant is the town’s investment of $17.2 million in bringing Central Arizona Project (CAP) water more directly to Oro Valley. Some CAP water will be routed directly to Oro Valley from Avra Valley, through Marana, as opposed to being delivered through the Tucson Water System. Water Director Abraham believes that the new delivery system, once completed, will enable Oro Valley to reduce its groundwater pumping to below 5,000 acre-feet per year. Next year’s spending on this project is estimated to be $14.5 million, which will complete it. The TMRB budget calls for the Water Utility to issue $20 million in debt this year to finance this project..

Public Works: $28.3 million

Public Works is the town's workhorse, keeping everything running smoothly. It provides a wide range of services, including engineering; maintaining over 450 miles of roads, with preservation of 70 miles each year; ensuring traffic lights function properly; dispensing 20,000 gallons of gas per month; maintaining the town’s bridges and a fleet of over 300 vehicles; overseeing facilities maintenance for all town properties; managing stormwater control; and operating the town's transit system.

Public Works faces two significant challenges. First, town facilities are aging and require replacement. Bridges need resurfacing, and roads need milling. Second, inflation has significantly increased the cost of operations. For example, the cost of the pavement preservation program is projected to double from previous years due to the reliance on oil-based solutions.

Public Service: $22.9 million

Personnel costs constitute 85% of the operating expenses for the police department, with fleet replacement planned at 5% this year. Speaking at last week’s council budget session, Chief Riley highlighted that the key issue faced by the department is "It's very important that we prepare for the future regarding succession planning and training, and tonight is no different."

Being a police officer is a challenging job. As Chief Riley observed, "Our staff sees and hears things that they can't unsee." A major focus is providing a career path for officers. John Teachout, Oro Valley Police Field Services Commander, noted, "We aim to develop from within, so the budget requested for field services is targeted at the development and succession planning of line-level staff, enabling them to advance through the ranks with the same good fortune as those of us in this room, while also maintaining focus on health and wellness."

Parks: $22.3 million
Parks continues its robust spending. This year, the capital budget stands at nearly $8 million,with $4million allocated to the revegetation of the Vistoso Trails Nature Preserve.  This latter amount assumes that the town can get a grant of $2million for  the Preserve.  Additional projects include further expenditures on the Community Center building, an incomplete elevator, roof repairs, and a bridge on the Pusch View Golf Course. Furthermore, there are $1.9 million in debt service payments for the bond this council approved in 2021 to fund improvements at Naranja Park and replace golf course irrigation systems. In addition, there is a $12 million cost for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the parks and recreation system-wide.

Everything else: $22.6 million 
The biggest chunk of all of department cost is the $3 million renovation of the Court Facility.

Tomorrow: Personnel
Tomorrow, we take a look at staffing and spending.
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Our Methodology adds all the spending together
We consolidated all spending for each department, encompassing operations and maintenance, capital improvement projects, and debt service—a breakdown not provided by the TMRB. Unlike the TMRB, which organizes spending by fund without detailing some capital improvement projects and debt service costs by department, we either directly identified these costs or developed estimates for them. Additionally, the TMRB earmarks $19.7 million in contingency funds, which may not be utilized; thus, we have excluded these from our analysis. The TMRB reports total spending at $137.4 million, and we were able to attribute all but $2.2 million of that spending to specific departments.

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