During the Sept. 4 council meeting, the majority of the Oro Valley Town Council rejected a proposal to issue a 60-day notice for the discussion of a potential renter’s tax. State law requires that the public be given a 60-day notice of any potential enhanced revenue stream. The vote was only to discuss, not to enact, new revenues.
The Oro Valley General Fund balance is forecasted to remain stable for the next six years, which is good, but does not allow for any new projects. Oro Valley is in sound financial shape, but cannot afford to take on new projects without decreasing the General Fund balance. I do not wish to remain constant. I want to see Oro Valley increase the services it provides its citizens. My recent attendance at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Conference demonstrated what communities across the state are doing to enhance their community services such, as parks, historical preservation, and arts/culture for their citizens.
Oro Valley’s current budget has no allocations for additional parks or existing park improvements, no monies for the development of the Naranja Town Park, no money for improvements at Steam Pump Ranch, no allocations for arts and culture. The current and forecasted budgets only pay for currently existing services.
I would like to see Oro Valley improve, not just exist. If a discussion were allowed for a new revenue stream, my idea was for the initiation of a renter’s tax, allowing the town to have the money to add and improve its services. Keep in mind that State law requires voters to approve a renter’s tax. The Council cannot just impose it.
July 4, 2014, is the deadline for submitting any ballot propositions. Given that a 60-day notice is required to even discuss revenue enhancements, now would be the appropriate time to issue that notice.
My idea was to ensure to the public that the revenue derived from a renter’s tax would NOT be used to hire new employees or increase the size of Oro Valley government. My plan was to allocate the new revenue to be divided with 65 percent going to parks, 15 percent going to pavement preservation, 10 percent going to historic preservation, and 10 percent going to arts/culture. The exact percentage allocations could be discussed and modified, if that discussion was allowed. I have been told that the ballot issue could be written in a way to guarantee the public that, if passed, the Council could not alter how the money could be spent in the future.
The vote on Sept. 4 was shortsighted. Not to even allow for the discussion was wrong. Not to let the citizens of the community have a voice, by their vote, was wrong. Oro Valley may continue to exist as the wonderful community it is, but is what we are good enough? We cannot rest on our laurels. We need to have a vision to improve and enhance services for our citizens. A “Community of Excellence” continues to grow. It is “In Our Nature” to continue to improve for the benefit of all our citizens.
(Editor’s Note: Mike Zinkin is a member of the Oro Valley Town Council.)