As the election draws near, voters in Oro Valley will once again be asked to decide on a budget-related measure known as the Home Rule Option, also referred to as a local alternative expenditure limitation.
Imposed under the Arizona Constitution is a formula-based budget spending limit that applies to all cities and towns. This formula sets a spending cap that does not take into consideration the services offered by each individual municipality. As an alternative, the state allows voters in each city and town to approve an option that allows that jurisdiction to adopt its own local budget limits and prioritize services offered.
The measure appeared on the last election ballot in 2010. According to Oro Valley Communications Administrator Misti Nowak, that year saw 10,892 voters representing 41.46 percent of the population mail in ballots.
Of those, 6,754, or 73 percent, voted in favor of a Home Rule Option.
The home rule option was also approved in Marana last year with 3,061 voting yes and 1,617 voting no.
While Oro Valley officials cannot advocate for or against the measure, rejecting it would result in a 60 percent reduction in town services beginning in the 2015-16 fiscal year. If the option were to fail, and the state’s formula-based budget implemented, the town’s expenditures would be capped at $42.4 million, affecting such services as the police department, parks, streets and road repair, transit services, development services, and water utility services.
If the home rule option is approved, Oro Valley would continue to develop its own budget expenditures and services. The town’s local funding estimate for the 2015-16 is $112.8 million, or $70.4 million more than the state’s budget would allow.
The Primary Election will be held Aug. 26. Due to a recent change in state law, the Town of Oro Valley is now required to conduct its elections in the fall of even-numbered years in coordination with Pima County. Therefore, the 2014 Primary and General Elections will be polling place elections for those voters who have not requested a ballot by mail. Voters may request an early mail ballot for a specific election or they may request to be placed on the Permanent Early Voting List and receive mail ballots for all elections. The early mail ballots for the Primary Election will be mailed on or about July 31 and on or about Oct. 9 for the General Election.