Mayor plans to run anew - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Mayor plans to run anew

Loomis cites experience

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Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:23 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Longtime Oro Valley Mayor Paul Loomis says he'll run for re-election in the spring.

"We've got a lot of stuff yet to do," Loomis said.

Particularly, the mayor wants the town to annex the 14-square-mile tract north of Oro Valley called Arroyo Grande, and see through the delivery of Central Arizona Project water to Oro Valley. A multi-agency plan is under way to build a pipeline and treatment and storage facilities for CAP water.

"I think my experience is definitely an advantage to the town," said Loomis, who was first elected mayor in 1998.

The mayor raised some eyebrows at the recent State of the Town event when he spoke of the need for Oro Valley to find new sources of revenue. After the meeting, Loomis told reporters that the town would need to consider raising the utility tax and initiating a property tax to maintain current service levels.

Property taxes have been dirty words in Oro Valley since the town's inception. Town founders incorporated Oro Valley with the promise of no local property taxes.

"I think we need to look at all the alternatives," Loomis said.

Revenue from the state has been on the decline and further drops are expected. In addition, local sales tax revenues have dipped, and revenue drawn from residential construction has fallen off sharply.

While not yet ready to endorse a local property tax, Loomis said if done correctly he would support a proposal.

"If it is a good package that has proper support, I expect I will support it," Loomis said.

Because the town doesn't have a property tax, the council would have to approve a measure to send to the voters, who would decide the matter.

Loomis also thinks his experience can help to bridge some of the divides that have appeared on the council in recent months. Those divisions began to surface during the budget talks over the summer, when Loomis and other council members supported dipping into the town's reserves to preserve the jobs of town employees. Other council members protested the move as fiscally irresponsible.

The council's divide grew starker in September, when Town Manager David Andrews was pushed into resignation. Loomis requested that Andrews resign, and later voted to accept his resignation. The mayor and other council members provided little in the way of explanation as to why they wanted the manager out.

Loomis was first elected in 1998. Since then, the town has grown from 25 to 34 square miles, and increased in population from 19,000 residents to 44,000.

During that time, the town budget grew from $33 million to $203 million. By way of comparison, in 1998 government spending averaged $1,700 per resident. Today, spending averages $4,600 per resident.

The primary election will be held March 9, 2010. Other announced candidates for mayor are Michael Zinkin and Satish Hiremath.

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