- Your Voice
Organizers of the referendum petition drive that could reverse the Town of Oro Valley’s planned purchase of the El Conquistador country club and golf courses handed the town clerk more than 3,000 signatures Thursday.
Upset with the rushed deadlines and lack of transparency in the proposed country club purchase, I had an email exchange with Councilman Joe Hornat just prior to the Dec. 17 meeting. When asked why on earth the town would want to get into a declining industry like the golf course business, Mr. Hornat replied “we don’t want to be in the golf business and that is why we will be hiring Troon to do that.” Really? If the town owns a golf club, it is in the golf course business. Period. And by extension, so are all Oro Valley residents, like it or not.
Coronado Little League has become Oro Valley Little League. In early December, the executive board voted unanimously to make the name change to better reflect their demographics.
I was very disappointed to discover that a small group of citizens is planning a legal move to block the Oro Valley acquisition of the El Conquistador Country Club (ECCC) property, which jeopardizes a much-wanted community center. Sadly there is also a group of Sun City residents who have joined in. This group is only concerned with their own interests and not the greater good of Oro Valley.
Lord Mayor Satish Hiremath opened his chambers on Dec. 17 as required by law to allow citizens to observe Council’s passage of the tax increase and planned purchase of El Conquistador Country Club. The Chambers were filled to capacity and beyond (SRO) and citizens (subjects) were permitted to approach the bench and make their points to his honor. Thirty-nine of us were allowed to speak, however, a much lower number was actually heard, for, you see, the deal was already done. His ruling majority had apparently decided the outcome as soon as the public was made aware that the transaction was proposed and no further input was really required. Such is the nature of Oro Valley governance under the current Town Council. It is sad when a deal of this magnitude is decided with little to no taxpayer input.
I attended the Oro Valley Town Council meeting last night and was dismayed that Mayor Hiremath seems to think he is King. He and he alone negotiated an agreement to adhere to “confidentiality” commitments so that the public could not know the “real” amounts from “secret deals”. I have not heard so much hubris from a politician since Gruber admitted that Obamacare had to be kept “secret” in order to pass it. Otherwise, the stupid (yes Gruber called the voters stupid) voters would never allow it to pass.
The Oro Valley Town Council will vote tonight (Dec. 17) on whether to purchase the golf and other recreational amenities of the El Conquistador resort, spending $1 million to acquire the property and committing to a half-cent sales tax increase for improvements and its continued operations.
With the election results a distant memory, the Mayor and re-elected members of the City Council have secretly made the decision to purchase for $1,000,000, the money losing entities of El Conquistador. Under the secret negotiations, the Town would purchase 45 holes of golf, two swimming pools, 31 tennis courts, a restaurant, and a building it will convert to a community center. The community center will house, among other things, exercise equipment that will help to decrease the revenue and taxes of such businesses as L.A. Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and other fitness companies in favor of a non-taxpaying entity. Will Oro Valley also get into the restaurant management business? The Mayor indicates the golf course will lose money at first—$1,000,000 to $1,300,000 in the first year but he expects it will become a money maker in a few years. Of course that is pure speculation. The Mayor’s finance people indicate all of the repairs and upgrades will cost no more than $1,500,000 even though members of the existing club’s Grounds Committee provide information that the upgrades will cost between $6,000,000 and $10,000,000 with an additional $400,000 needed to restore the cart paths. We should also remember that the way to finance this boondoggle is an increase in the sales tax for Oro Valley businesses. Wasn’t it Mayor Hiremath who indicated in his re-election campaign rhetoric he was going to put effort into increasing the number of retail businesses in Oro Valley? These are the same businesses that could lose market share because it would cost less to make a major purchase in Tucson, Oracle, etc. to the detriment of Oro Valley businesses. Why shop in Oro Valley if a short distance away, we can save our hard earned money by paying less sales tax?
Sorry, Thelma Grimes, but I take issue with your article. Your critique of the Oro Valley Town Council’s recent decision does not bear scrutiny. Give the hard working and dedicated staff of the town a break.
Let me first state that I am absolutely opposed to the acquisition of the El Conquistador property. I am also in disagreement that Oro Valley needs a community center as one of its top priorities. Lastly, I am shocked that a decision of this magnitude including financial impact to our community is allowed two weeks for input.
Mayor Hiremath, Council Members Waters, Snider, and Hornat have all just been re-elected to the town council by wide margins. This is the same group that, during their first term, doubled the Utility tax. Now they are proposing to buy the El Conquistador Country Club and raise the Town’s sales tax to pay for it. We all agree that Oro Valley needs a community center, but we do not agree on whether or not we need to rush into making a commitment that not all desire.
Please join us for the IMPACT of Southern Arizona Golf Classic on Jan. 30, 2015. The event is dedicated in memory of Bob Richards, a passionate supporter of IMPACT of Southern Arizona and past Board member and president. We will have a great day of golf at the beautiful del Lago Golf Club in Vail.
It was a busier than normal night at the Marana Town Council last Wednesday, and it could have been an even busier session had a council action agenda item not been taken off the board. As it was, the council held the first of two public hearings over the possibility of building a new police station.
Thursday, Oct. 16
Thursday, Sept. 18
Thursday, Aug. 14
A recent opinion here went on in some length about why she simply cannot vote for Mayor Hiremath. She went on and on about her dismay that our current mayor does not demonstrate “quality leadership on her key issues that affect her/our community.”
During its “Shop Oro Valley” Summer Campaign from May 1 to July 1, Oro Valley shoppers spending $25 or more at an Oro Valley business were eligible to submit their receipts for a weekly raffle, sponsored by 18 Oro Valley businesses. Thanks to the generosity of our participating businesses, the Town was able to award 48 prizes such as gift cards and certificates for free services. Sandra Johnson, a 20 year resident and first time Shop Oro Valley Campaign participant, is the lucky winner of the $500 gift card basket. Vestar donated the grand prize, which features various gift cards for great shopping, dining and entertainment at Oro Valley Marketplace. During the eight-week campaign, 975 entries were submitted. The receipts, valued at $62,276.38, represent goods and services from 116 Oro Valley businesses. Also during the summer campaign, shoppers who purchased a $100 OV Dollars gift card from the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce received a bonus $10 to spend! The OV Dollars card program operates much like a regular gift card, but instead of only being able to use it at one retailer, shoppers can swipe their card at any of the participating businesses in Oro Valley. During the campaign, the Chamber sold 188 gift cards totaling $61,190 in sales, which are spent in the community. “Sales tax is a major source of revenue for the town,” said Mayor Satish I. Hiremath. “Shopping locally is a direct investment in our community to fund public safety and infrastructure.”
Thursday, July 17