"Home Rule." Sounds like something our parents imposed when we were growing up! Well, it has very similar characteristics, when applied by the State of Arizona, that has a direct impact to Oro Valley.
In 1980, Arizona voters imposed the Alternative Spending Limitation, or "Home Rule." This formula-based spending limitation applied to municipalities, school districts and counties and is based on the 1979 level of spending. The amount grows each year based on population and inflation. Home Rule came about when state lawmakers provided for an election in which citizens can vote to allow a municipality to spend more. If approved, Home Rule allows a city to adopt its own alternative expenditure limitation, free from any ties to the state-imposed limitation.
Many cities and towns find the amount based on the state's expenditure limit is not enough to support their budgets. As of 2006, 53 municipalities had approved Home Rule, including Avondale, Phoenix and the Town of Oro Valley, according to the League of Arizona Cities and Towns. This allows each local jurisdiction the opportunity for greater flexibility in the way spending is handled.
The Town of Oro Valley first received voter approval in 1982, and every four years thereafter the Home Rule option has passed. Oro Valley voters will be asked again to weigh in on Home Rule with this year's primary election ballot, which will be mailed to all Oro Valley voters next week. This will appear as Question One and will be the only ballot question that will appear during the March primary.
By voting "Yes," the Home Rule option allows Oro Valley to budget expenditures up to its local funding estimate of $108 million for the fiscal year beginning in July 2010. A "No" vote would limit budgeted expenditures to no more than $47 million, which would result in a severe reduction of the Town's budget by nearly 60 percent. This would dramatically reduce the Town's ability to provide services to the community.
Home Rule only applies to budget expenditures — it does not limit the amount of revenues a city or town can collect. Therefore, while we would still continue to receive revenue from our current sources in the amount of $108 million, we would not be allowed to spend it.
I would like to point out that the Home Rule option is not an increase or decrease in your tax rate, nor does it give your Town Council any special privileges to create additional taxes. We would also still be required to maintain a balanced budget, and the public's involvement during the budget hearings would continue.
I urge all citizens to become informed about the Home Rule option prior to the vote in March, and vote "Yes" to protect our local control on how we determine spending limits. If you need more information, please visit the Town's web site at www.orovalleyaz.gov, or contact Town Communications Administrator Mary Davis at (520) 229-4712, email@example.com
Bill Garner is the vice mayor of Oro Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community info meeting on the alternative spending limitation, "home Rule"
Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1-2 p.m.
Sun City Community Center
For more information contact Mary Davis, 229-4712, or by e-mail at email@example.com