1. What new sources of revenue should Oro Valley examine?
K.C. Carter: I think we should concentrate on new business coming to Oro Valley with a good volume of sales and use this as additional revenue. Example: I have mentally kicked around an upscale car marketing unit not like a used car lot but you would order your car by model-specification, etc.
Don Emmons: We have to get expenditures under control first. History shows that if we increase revenues from new sources, we also increase expenditures. As a town council member, I am advocating fiscal responsibility and get expenditures under control.
Mark Finchem: New business development and small business growth is the largest opportunity to grow sales tax revenues for Oro Valley. The next largest opportunity is a "fee for service" schedule for certain services. The town has missed many opportunities to grow sales tax revenue through the failure to get new businesses up and running.
Joe Hornat: I would consider "annexations" as a new source of revenue for Oro Valley. I also think we do need to allow the revenue sources we have to grow and foster business.
Matthew Rabb: There are a several ways in which Oro Valley can raise revenue. The two main options are, of course, business development and taxation. The latter of which would be extremely difficult and irresponsible to pursue in the current economy. Oro Valley should, therefore, encourage smart business growth and development.
Mary Snider: Oro Valley is facing a projected shortage of both state-shared revenues and local sales tax revenue over the next several years. Should these projections be realized, it will be the council's responsibility to exercise their due diligence and examine all new sources of revenue. Examination is not implementation. The voters have the right to weigh in.
Lou Waters: State Revenue Sharing can be increased through annexation — retail sales tax revenue would increase as well. Increased services would be required but failed past attempts at annexation must be re-visited. Looking ahead, Arroyo Grande annexation is a must to maintain the environmental integrity of Oro Valley.
2. Would you put a property tax question on the ballot for voter approval? Why or why not?
K.C. Carter: I am not a believer on property tax. Success at trying this is a high risk of trying to sell the public on the need for and the proper use of the tax money. Property tax would delay future firms looking at Oro Valley to build in this area and it must be a positive need for this type of tax.
Don Emmons: Absolutely not! There is no need to have a vote for a property tax. I have heard more than once the anger that the citizens of Oro Valley have expressed on the idea of a primary property tax. This is an issue that I would not even consider.
Mark Finchem: I am against a special Oro Valley property tax and would work to prevent it. The council is elected to do a job with the resources it is given by the taxpayers. Between such things as bond defeasance, spending reductions, zero-based budgeting, the council could right-size town departments to deliver those services that residents view as most critical.
Joe Hornat: If all other sources are not meeting their objectives, all possible cuts have been made and this was the only way left to stabilize our income, yes I would let it go to the voters for a decision. I would craft a tax amendment to be specific as to what we could spend it on, not just hand anyone a blank check for the general fund.
Matthew Rabb: The town council and the voters have the ability to increase taxes to bring in new revenue for the town. Only the council, however, has the ability to make meaningful cuts to non-essential expenses. The council, therefore, has the responsibility to ensure that all unnecessary costs are cut before we even consider ask the voters to approve a property tax.
Mary Snider: A council member's responsibility is to provide the citizens of Oro Valley their right to vote on whether to enact a property tax, and then carry out their direction. Seven members of the town council are not empowered to enact a primary property tax. How should… the council use reserves ($17 million) which are in excess of the required reserve ($7-8 million)?
Lou Waters: If all existing revenue and budget cuts suggest a drastic cut in services, Oro Valley residents may wish to vote for a property tax designed to fund only those services they demand. I would not oppose that decision by voters.
3. What areas of the budget would you cut?
K.C. Carter: My approach is to review in detail all of our operations and look at items that are costly and do not produce the desired dollars required to make it a success, Take the department and review the job being done and at what expense to the town. This will take some time, but would streamline the units.
Don Emmons: Instead of firing the town manager, it would be responsible for us to look at and accept recommendations. Not blindly accept, but look at. I would have each department head submit areas where they feel that they could cut areas of unnecessary expenditures.
Mark Finchem: The current council is examining the budget now to identify areas where services may no longer be needed or popular. With the sharp reduction in new home construction — by some accounts as much as 90 percent — I have to ask if there is another, more efficient way to deliver inspection services.
Joe Hornat: With the information we have now, I would have to answer "none." Until we see a budget that shows the impact of any cuts it would be wrong to pick out any area for cuts.
Matthew Rabb: We need to make cuts where we can save the most money but at the same time ensure that the impact to town services is minimal. A close examination of our current spending will reveal what areas of town government are a direct result of our past needs to service a fast-growing community. Those needs have changed.
Mary Snider: Budget cuts should not be confused with service cuts. Any cuts must be strategic, with minimal (if any) impact on our citizens, many of whom are already suffering economic hardships. I would cut no specific items before a workload analysis of various departments is completed, and the impact of any cuts is measured.
Lou Waters: Until there's an effort to review funding, line by line, to determine need, that question will have to remain unanswered. If a program proves to be essential, efficient or effective, it remains. If not, it needs cutting.
4. Name two areas of the budget you would cut and two areas of the budget you would protect?
K.C. Carter: Two areas that need to be protected is the item on safety. Review this in detail and make corrections if you see some abuse. Another is to keep the water department moving like it is and review some additional areas for streamlining.
Don Emmons: I would vote to discontinue all earmarks until we have expenditures under control — no area would be protected without justification.
Mark Finchem: "Cut"… I would not take the wholesale cutting approach to any one department. Each workgroup is an important delivery system. Understanding what the departments are solving for, how they are performing and what their priorities for improvement are is the approach I would urge the council to take.
Joe Hornat: None and none. Quick answer. Too soon to talk about specific areas. I certainly want to protect our quality of life areas. Let me just answer that right now nothing is sacred.
Matthew Rabb: Non-essential expenses need to be cut. Essential services must be funded for the health and safety of Oro Valley. I would seek to retain our public safety and road maintenance personnel necessary to keep Oro Valley a safe and desirable community. We must make the changes necessary to operate more effectively and to cut the expenses within those departments.
Mary Snider: I will protect those services that are essential to the quality of life of our residents. I will not jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Oro Valley. To that end I will survey the community to determine which services they consider most important to our quality of life. Those must be given priority. A workload analysis must be done.
Lou Waters: Without a thorough review, it's impossible to say. At first blush it would follow that with development at a standstill, the development services budget should be cut. And with business in a slump, the ability to sell and market Oro Valley should be preserved. If it's about spending only what we earn, it's all about common sense.