Candidate Q&A - Oro Valley Town Council - Joe Hornat - The Explorer: Election

Candidate Q&A - Oro Valley Town Council - Joe Hornat

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Posted: Monday, August 4, 2014 1:38 pm | Updated: 10:14 am, Tue Aug 5, 2014.

Why are you running for Town Council?

I started attending Council meetings about three years before I ran. What I saw was resignations, manager and management problems, Council members with issues, budgets out of control, shifts in direction every two years and I felt it was a Council that was about itself instead of OV. I saw what was happening to OV and I thought I could contribute to “righting the ship”. I have and want to continue to see us stay the course and provide consistent leadership and management to OV. I feel a sense of responsibility to continue. I knew it would not be an easy job, not always a fun job, but one that suits my sense of duty and responsibility to the Community at large.

 What can you provide that other candidates can’t?

I have served on Council for four years and two years prior to that on the Planning and Zoning commission. I participated in the Town long before I ran for election. I made the investment in time and was honored with an election to Council. I now have the additional experience gained during difficult times that will be not only useful to OV, but necessary to maintain the consistency of effort and direction. I don’t see that investment in the Community by the challengers. I am engaged and I have a sense of Community. I don’t let any bias about nit picking items get in the way of rational conclusions that protect OV.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how well is the current council managing the Town of Oro Valley? Explain your answer.

There are no 10’s when it comes to any management as that would mean we would have nothing to do or improve! Take a look around and see what we’ve done and here are a few things; we’ve delivered a real alternative to ground water pumping to the Community. We’ve begun “chunking” at the development of Naranja Park as well as Steam Pump Ranch. We’ve delivered a new Aquatic center with things for kids to do including new programs, not just swim. We have delivered employee programs that are meaningful for their health and their career. There are studies that show how this will save the Town substantial long term health care costs. Oro Valley is in the forefront with this service. We’ve streamlined the process for building for residents and for developers. We have protected our Community through a horrible economic time. The list goes on and there is never enough space to cover all. We have overcome stagnation with action.

Do you agree with how the current town council has managed the budget? Please Explain.

Yes I do agree with how we’ve managed the budget. You’ve heard it before, from a deficit budget to a surplus in two years!! We don’t spend money we don’t need to. We’ve established a good structural budget that allows us to spend one time incomes on one time infrastructure items and ongoing items from secure ongoing revenue. We’ve brought opportunity for the Community to engage in the process via study sessions. We have put a very detailed budget on line. We continue to get awards for our budget presentations; we’ve improved our bond ratings….We continue to get monthly updates so we can “watch” what is happening in “real time”. We are on it!!

What is your stance on future commercial and residential growth in Oro Valley? Is the Town headed in the right direction? Does more time need to be spent on the strategic plan?

I look forward to our continued success in both those areas. I would like to see more commercial and jobs come to OV. If we continue to create the kind of place people want to live, with some work, they will follow. Oro Valley cannot create jobs, but we can and do provide the environment that will attract businesses to come here.

Most of what we do is part of the Strategic Plan…more time, no I don’t think we need to spend “more time” on it. We are implementing it.

When it comes to business support, do you believe Oro Valley is business unfriendly or business friendly? Explain your answer.

I believe we are “business friendly”, but to me that means to establish an environment where we have rules and policies that are applied consistently. I heard a developer at an MPA forum a week ago say it is “tough to do business, in OV, but when you do you get consistency”. It is that consistency that makes us business friendly, that and the ability to listen to what may or may not need to be changed as a result of unintended consequences.

The police department budget continues to be a controversial topic for the current council. What do you think about the amount budgeted each year on public safety? Do you feel there should be more discussion on public safety funding?

I don’t think the police budget is a controversial topic. I believe that there are those on the Council and previous Councils who want to make it controversial but it isn’t. The percentages that are tossed around are little more than attempts to paint the budget in a bad light and compliment the bias we have seen. Think about it, if we spent more money in other areas the percentage of the police budget would actually go down. Is that really a good measure? I don’t think so. We have an excellent police department led by exceptional people…it is just so simple to see that.

What qualifications would you have to have to have a meaningful discussion about public safety budgets or funding? Would you have to be a manager within a police department? I won’t go on with that, but discussion we’ve seen always seems to be comparisons to support a negative opinion of what we have. An unwarranted negative opinion, I might add.

Do you support an audit of the police department’s operations and budget? Why or why not?

No I do not support and audit. If I thought we had a problem, I would give it serious consideration. I would say right now, another study, even if it was a good idea, would probably only be met with the same criticism as being “flawed” as our recent outside study of employee salary’s was “flawed” as it did not support the bias of some members of Council. Do they only accept those studies that support what they think? It would be a waste of time and money. We have an organizationally sound and well managed department with highly credentialed an experienced management.

On a regional level, do you believe the town should continue to fund and be involved in programs such as TREO, Visit Tucson and the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce?

Just a quick note, the Town no longer funds TREO.

Oro Valley is doing well there is no argument there, but we are a part of a bigger regional picture. We need professionals who can see past our borders to enhance who we are and what we have. We need professionals who understand tourism in all its forms, i.e. sports tourism, environmental tourism, etc. We need folks whose job it is to engage our local business’s on a daily basis to help them to continue to be successful and maintain them within our sphere. This question is even bigger than the above as we even participate in Mexico oriented trade organizations, including our concern for commerce and infrastructure at the border. We need professionals who have built relationships locally, nationally and even internationally. I believe we have those organizations as part of our “tool kit”.

The current council is often divided on major issues – How do you feel about the current dynamics of the town council? What would you change?

I disagree with that statement! I believe that Council is divided on a few major issues. I will repeat what you probably already know about 4-3 votes….15 times out of 158 votes of this sitting Council.

Let’s look at what some of 4-3 votes were.

Budget…..not supported “because we aren’t doing enough for underprivileged in OV”, or a “we are on a spending spree”. These “objections” are easily shown to be incorrect with a balanced budget and an understanding of what we do fun via our County relationship.

Add an “energy element to the General Plan” (I was on the 3 side of this one), “Sign program for El Dorado”, “reconsider a landscape issue” for a single resident, “double fines in construction zones when workers aren’t present” (Hiremath, Snider and Waters on the 3 side). I could go on, but… I think people will get the idea. It is just something people repeat without knowing the facts and trying to start a fire.

Would I change anything? No, we research and read, we have discussions, we make our points, we listen to and consider the points made by others, we consider the affects as we see them, then we cast our vote. That is the way the system works.

How well do you think the current council listens to the public, and bases decisions on citizen input?

This is really a tough one and a little subjective. What I will say is that we do listen to public input and we listen well. When we see issues that affect neighbors, such as zoning changes, we place great stock in the needs and opinions of the residents near there. We have process and codes that protect our residents, we have mitigation options in those codes to reduce the impact of any changes. Where we can via code, we can add “conditions” that better serve those affected and the project.

Do we listen? We have instituted Neighborhood meetings to solicit their input even before we allow a developer to come to the town with a “pre application”. We give them an opportunity to make their concerns clear and we expect that those be addressed by the applicant of any change. These meetings have been very successful. Do they please all, no…but I’m not sure any project can please everyone.

Having said that, we had one that did please all the neighbors and the developer, but it was rejected by one of the 4-3 votes. I can’t explain that but I was on the “4” side. Since this was a GP Amendment, 5 votes would be necessary for passage.

The narrative that says we don’t listen is being written by individuals who have never served on Council. Most of this Council is out in the Community at all kinds of events. Listening doesn’t just happen via emails and on Wednesday nights.

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