- Your Voice
In a vote on Dec. 11, the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to support the town council’s plan to increase sales taxes and purchase the Hilton El Conquistador country club building, golf course, tennis courts and facilities for $1 million.
It’s going to only take one of the current majority to do the right thing and vote to table, or against, the proposed golf course purchase and sales tax increase tonight (Dec. 17). It’s going to take one of the majority, consisting of Mayor Satish Hiremath, Councilman Joe Hornat, Councilwoman Mary Snider or Vice Mayor Lou Waters, to say no to this ill-advised, badly-planned prospect.
I would love to have a municipal golf course in Oro Valley, but not the one proposed.
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?
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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.
For $1 million the Town of Oro Valley is getting over 300 acres of prime land in the middle of our community, over 31,000 square feet of useable space for recreation, meetings, exercise, and food and beverage services, 31 tennis courts, two swimming pools, and 3 golf courses. By any measure this is a good deal when one considers that we have many homes in Oro Valley that far exceed the $1 million figure.
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