Is Oro Valley still a community of excellence? - The Explorer: Editorials

Is Oro Valley still a community of excellence?

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Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 3:00 am

The last several years have been very trying for our country, state and community. We are experiencing the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression. Our town will not continue to be a community of excellence unless we band together and change our mindset.

Since taking office last year I have focused my efforts, and I have encouraged others to join me, in working for a better future. We can no longer rely on the State and the economy for our success. We are seeing firsthand what happens when we do. Four critical areas have to be addressed in order for Oro Valley to control its own destiny. 

The four areas that we must take deliberative action in order to retain the quality and character of our community are: 1) expenditure reductions, 2) operational efficiencies, 3) council policies, and 4) revenue streams. All four areas must be addressed in order for our community to be successful.

Expenditure reductions

• The Town has reduced its budget from $203,121,674 in FY 08/09 to $94,064,647 for FY 11/12. That is a decrease of $109,057,028, or 54 percent. The proposed general fund (the main operating fund) budget is $25,658,018 for FY 11/12, which is down from the FY 08/09 adopted budget of $32,364,921, a 21-percent reduction.

Operational efficiencies

• Over the past year, the Development and Infrastructure Services department has continued to realign and consolidate functions, and reduce both expenditures and personnel. This department alone will end the fiscal year with budget savings of $960,000, or 24 percent, and down nearly 12 positions from FY 08/09. 

• Parks & Recreation services have been reduced to an all-time low, down an additional 6 percent this year with reduced pool hours and the elimination of all three summer camps; consolidation of Parks & Recreation with the Library and Cultural Resources produced: cross-training of Parks & Recreation personnel to cover the need for expertise in cultural resources programming and maintenance; three-year savings realized at 27 percent or $585,000; includes renegotiated lower lease rates, eliminated positions, and the ending of an annual $70,000 landscape services contract, which is now performed by existing employees.

Council policies

• Preserve Police services and staffing levels, currently 2.4 officers per 1,000 population, approach the target of the town council-accepted 2007 Police Staffing Report, with the goal of 2.5 officers per 1,000 population.

• Transportation partnership with Marana in developing the Tangerine Road corridor.

• Strategic attraction of bioscience companies and related suppliers.

As you can see, the Oro Valley Town Council has taken deliberate action to address expenditure reductions, operational efficiencies and Town policies. We cannot achieve a town of excellence by cuts alone.  We now are in discussions regarding the development of additional revenue streams.

In my State of the Town address, I made it clear that this council will not govern in fear. We cannot and will not be afraid to talk about revenue. Partisan factions have killed this discussion at the federal level. Partisan factions have killed this discussion at the state level. I cannot and will not let partisan factions kill our discussion at the local level, in our community. 

We will not allow the loudest voices to drown out reasonable discussions about the services we need and the quality of the community that we want to live in. Not talking about revenue streams is NOT acceptable.  We all agree that we need to make our community more attractive to lure business, development and residents alike in order to ensure our future sustainability and prosperity.

This cannot be achieved by cutting to the point where public safety is a concern or by diminishing our Parks & Recreation facilities and programs to the point where our children have nowhere to go and nothing to do.

As mayor, it is my belief that local government exists for two primary reasons: 1) provide core public services, and 2) create the opportunities for our residents and businesses to become successful. 

To our critics, I challenge you to come to the table with equitable solutions. I committed to the residents of our town that I would do everything in my power to remain a community of excellence and refuse to let this town not live up to what our residents and children deserve. 

Join me and the other members of your town council and help us continue to build a community of excellence that we can all be proud of. Together, we can make a difference!

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