Letters to the editor published in the March 11 Explorer.
Who’s running OV — police, or council, manager?
I attended the town council meeting on March 4, 2009. I have never seen so many people “packing heat” (guns) since I watched the latest television episode of “COPS.” Chief Sharp and his “minions” really turned out their “army” in force for two agenda items.”
Item 2 – Utility tax extension.
The short-term 2006 utility tax funded six new “public safety” jobs in excess of the 2006 budget. Over 95 percent of the speakers (police) favored extending the short-term utility tax. The extended utility tax will provide $1.2 million dollars for budget shortfalls and potentially help protect any proposed “public safety” job reductions.
Item 5 – Reduction in force.
Over 95 percent of the speakers (police) were against any reductions in force (layoffs) that would result in any “public safety” job reductions. The proposed reduction in force recommendations did not specify any initial “public safety” job reductions.
There are 102 sworn officers, although the budget allows only 99. There are 37 police support personnel. There were no proposed reductions in the 139 personnel.
Sounds like the “public safety” people run the town, not our elected officials or town manager.
Incidentally, there were no discussions of spending cuts, only more taxes and protection of “public safety” jobs.
John Musolf, Oro Valley
Call the new OV councilwoman ‘Mrs. Utility Tax’
At the most recent Oro Valley council meeting, an important vote was cast concerning the utility tax. The vote was 4 to 3 to continue the tax, which would have otherwise expired on April 1.
One could argue that the deciding vote was cast by council member Salette Latas. The other votes were more or less predictable, but hers was not.
It appears that those of us who don’t believe in a “tax and spend” philosophy have some more work to do at the next council election.
As to future votes from Mrs. Latas, now that her thoughts on taxes are known, can spending be far behind? In the meantime, she has made a name for herself: “Mrs. Utility Tax.”
Ray Lewandowski, Oro Valley
OV should find ways other than jobs to save money
Members of the Oro Valley Fraternal Order Of Police Lodge #53 helped to fill the town of Oro Valley council meeting on March 4. Topics of interest were the utility tax renewal and the proposal by the town manager to lay off town employees. These cuts could affect 33 town employees, which includes six police officers.
The Fraternal Order of Police wants to support fellow town employees in order to maintain the service infrastructure that exists in the Town of Oro Valley today. The F.O.P. does not want brick and mortar projects to come before the employees of this town. Services to this town are why people live in Oro Valley and drive to Tucson for work.
Several suggestions were offered in order to avoid layoffs. According to the town human resources director, the town’s attrition rate is approximately 8 percent a year. The town holds a contingency fund or “rainy day” fund of about $14.4 million, which is about twice the amount required by council policy. Additionally, the town has $5.9 million dollars in a municipal operations building fund, which has not yet been approved to build.
The F.O.P. would like to see the town look for ways to cut the budget through programs instead of people while monitoring massive efforts to improve the economy as it impacts Oro Valley. We believe that using a very small portion of the contingency fund money and municipal operations building fund money to get through this next year, along with the attrition rate, the 33 employee positions and services they provide to this town could be saved. Additionally, the F.O.P. has offered to forego any step or merit increases to public safety employees this year so the town may utilize those funds to retain town employees and the services they provide.
At the end of this council meeting, the decision to cut services to this town was not decided, but delayed until a later meeting. By the time the citizens of this town recognize their loss of services, it will be too late. We ask that you be involved and voice your opinion to your Town of Oro Valley council members.
Kevin Mattocks, Oro Valley Fraternal Order of Police #53, Vice president