OV Council candidate forum answers - The Explorer: Import

OV Council candidate forum answers

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Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:48 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

4-year candidates

Question 1:

Over the past few years there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the need for Oro Valley to establish a solid financial base which is not dependent upon homebuilding or property taxes. In these discussions the concept of "desirable" businesses that generate significant sales tax revenue is often promoted. Please identify which types of businesses in Oro Valley are undesirable, if any, and why. Additionally, please list the types of desirable businesses you want to come here and why. How will these businesses be attracted to Oro Valley? If your answer includes the offering of incentives, please identify what specific incentives you would offer.

Don Cox

I believe nightclubs (like the former New West), adult oriented stores, medium to heavy manufacturing and businesses such as these are not suitable for our community.

On the desirable side I would like to see a regional mall on the order of La Encantada located in our Town. Satellite auto sales centers, with a limit on display space would be another business I would like to attract. Oro Valley also is in need of a wider variety of restaurants. As the question states, "businesses that generate significant sales tax revenues" are high on the desirable list as long as they meet the standards of the Oro Valley citizenry.

Successful businesses have a somewhat complicated formula they use to evaluate the desirability of potential operating locations. One of the keys in this formula is a population center with an income level that will support their product(s). Oro Valley is extremely attractive for this and many other reasons.

I would rather avoid incentives. However we must be practical and look at the marketplace in which we operate. The cities and towns around us are vying for these same businesses. If incentives give us a competitive edge that will yield a positive result then we should consider them.

Helen Dankwerth

Desirable businesses would include high end clothing stores, boutiques, home decorator and accessory shops, sports equipment/outfitters, fine dining, art galleries and booksellers. With the continued influx of retirees, and the development of higher-end housing in neighboring communities as well as in Oro Valley, we are in an ideal "destination shopping" location, allowing us to derive tax revenues from a population other than Oro Valley residents. Businesses will naturally "come to the money" - but we have to lure them with attractive, unique, and quality "village-type" locations. Our low crime rate and high per capita income, coupled with insistence on tasteful building complimenting our environment and the ever broadening "circle of opportunity" will attract stable, well-funded enterprises which look to long term gains rather than a "quick fix".

Undesirable businesses would include additional fast food eateries, car washes, big-box stores and more drug stores. We have enough such establishments to meet our needs - more of the same will not attract the type of buyer we wish to target.

Lyra Done

The desirability of nonresidential development is tied closely with the goal to establish Oro Valley as a premier employment center offering high paying jobs for our area professionals and to provide shopping opportunities close to home. The role of the Town Council is to establish polices and programs. The Council must provide a clear, concise and effective set of standards and expectations to companies considering an Oro Valley location. As a Town council member, I would be interested in considering two types of economic development strategies. First, tax incentives based on a reduction of taxes to be paid during a start up period for that company would be attractive. These kinds of incentives are commonly used by progressive municipalities to facilitate economic development. Second, programs that allow perspective employers and retail operators to meet with an economic development task force consisting of ranking Oro Valley elected officials, executive officers, and senior staff would demonstrate the commitment of Oro Valley to economic development. These two strategies are examples of low-cost, high-impact options that can be utilized to increase economic development.

Richard Feinberg

Undesirable businesses are in my opinion: Continued inundation of fast food stores, gas stations, auto repair garages, super markets and drug stores. We have enough. Auto parts stores, Wal-Mart and car washes and bargain discount stores do not fit our vision of an upscale community.

Desirable resorts, like the Ritz Carlton, upscale hotels, clothing stores, department stores like Dillards or Macys, will help prevent continued leakage.

These retail businesses will be attracted here if we attract Campus Park High Tech Businesses that employ high salaried employees who will purchase homes here and buy the products and the services of these high-end retail stores.

Corporate Headquarters and High Tech business will come to Oro Valley if we continue to discourage the undesirables and encourage the desirables. Oro Valley has a magnificent scenic Corridor, dark skies, good schools, great weather and a safe Outstanding Quality of Life. If we continue in this direction it will lead to an upscale cycle. The result is continually attracting retirees, baby boomers, tourists and families looking for a good environment for their children and good paying jobs.

Barry Gillaspie

Undesirable businesses are those that refuse to participate in sound planning and responsible practices. Sometimes the Town Council has to say "no" to a business proposal that is out of character with our community. Our citizens have been very clear about their desires for additional businesses that fit with the community. People expect well planned restaurants, theaters, clothing stores, and personal and medical services. We should consider bioindustry, information technology, optics and tourism. Maintaining a community with high quality standards and a distinctive character attracts businesses because those are the type of communities that attract people with disposable income.

Terry Parish

Many businesses that would be assets to our community are reluctant to locate in Oro Valley. There is a prevailing perception that local bureaucracy creates costly, inconsistent and unreasonable barriers that significantly limit the possibility of success. I am acquainted with several local business people who have complained that the inspection process nearly ruined them financially. None of these people advocate relaxing building codes, but all agree that inconsistent application of standards creates unreasonable costs and delays which can be financially devastating, especially to the small business people. It is imperative that we create a positive business environment without compromising construction and development standards. The people who live in this community (especially our seniors) should not be forced to drive to Tucson or Marana to shop. The demographics in Oro Valley should cause it to be a magnate for quality businesses.

To facilitate this Oro Valley must continue to provide quality services. Police and fire protection, water, utilities, and good uncongested roadways are some of the key building blocks that will convince business to invest in Oro Valley.

The local business community doesn't need or want corporate welfare, but they do expect to be treated fairly.

Question 2:

Describe the town's current financial condition and what you will do as a councilmember to either maintain or improve that condition? Under what circumstances would you ask voters to approve a primary or secondary property tax?

Don Cox

The financial reports coming out of the Finance Department, would indicate that the Town's current fiscal picture is relatively good. I am pleased to see that we have recently increased our construction sales tax to further capture income from our growth and to bring us in closer alignment with other communities in the area. We have several commercial developments on the horizon that will improve the sales tax income levels. We must continue to do a good job in controlling our spending while maintaining the high level of services we provide. We must provide our employees with adequate pay increases that will allow us to continue to be competitive in the job market. When pay scales fall below a competitive level, the quality of the employment pool diminishes.

We must broaden our sources of revenue generation. As I have repeatedly said, we have relied heavily on the revenues generated from residential growth for years. That source is rapidly diminishing. We must look to other sources of income. The best way to do this is to create the atmosphere that will allow for nonresidential growth to flourish. The ideal scenario is for the citizens of Marana, Tucson, Catalina and Pinal County along with our great tourist population to visit Oro Valley, spend money purchasing goods and services that generates income to pay the bills of Oro Valley. That's good business and good for business.

I would ask voters to approve a property tax only when I am convinced that there is no better alternative for revenue generation.

Helen Dankwerth

Financially, we are in a "holding position". Beginning in 2005, we will likely be operating a deficit budget due to escalating costs for road development and maintenance, the necessity for additional safety personnel, library completion, beginning development of the Naranja Town Site and debt service repayment. As councilwoman, I would work to pare the budget where possible, prioritize expenditures, review our investment program, engage the services of a grant researcher/writer, seek limited bonding, promote the creation of a "citizen corps" of current and retired businesspersons and civic leaders to 'brainstorm", actively research, target, and pursue appropriate ventures employing a well educated, well-paid workforce supportive of our current businesses. We should capitalize on our geographic location, and develop a winter music festival akin to that of Aspen, Colorado, which would contribute significantly to our resort and dining revenue.

I would ask our citizens to practice "delayed gratification" regarding "amenities" until revenues derived from annexation (i.e.: Foothills Mall), new businesses, and better investment returns were sufficient to provide for "frills". Instituting property taxes would be an ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT, and could only take place with voter approval.

Lyra Done

Based on my experience as a long-term member of the Town of Oro Valley Budget and Bond Committee, I would describe our current financial condition as stable. However, our financial condition is not solid and definitely not sustainable based on current revenues and expenditures. Although we have experienced financial benefits from an expanding economy [revenue from growth], these benefits are only temporary and Oro Valley must transition to a long-term balanced revenue/expense budget. Fortunately, we have adequate revenue-producing land uses that will allow us to achieve the goal of financial sustainability. The challenge will be to ensure this type of development has a positive effect on our financial stability while not resulting in a negative affect on quality of life. As a member of the Town Council, I will focus my efforts on attracting and encouraging the very best employers and the most desirable retail businesses to make Oro Valley their home. I do not believe an Oro Valley' property tax is necessary. Based on my experience researching and monitoring Oro Valley's financial condition, a property tax is unnecessary if we actively pursue other revenue sources.

Richard Feinberg

The current financial condition of the town is sound as evidenced by the 2003/4 FY budget. However, according to Bob Jennens on the budget and Bond Committee, Oro Valley is facing a softening and a possible leveling off in its revenue growth curve while popular services like roads, police protection, parks, etc. need to be carefully watched and kept in balance. As a council Member I would recommend to examine our current costs, employ a pro-active approach to long term cost and revenue management before reserves are used up and the Town of Oro Valley's bond ratings decline.

With respect to property taxes, currently I am not in favor of them. If other revenues become insufficient, I would look to defer major projects and other expenditures first.

Knowing that a "secondary property tax" is used to pay off a specific bond package, and has an end point (sunset provision), I would need to keep in mind that if our citizens demanded a major capital investment in open space, parks or other large items in years ahead that could not be handled by the regular budgeting process, and bonds needed to be issued, the use of this might be an option if no other methods of bond retirement were found.

Barry Gillaspie

The Town's current revenue generation is not likely to keep up with the expected demand. Over the past few years, the Town Council has been irresponsible, spending down the Town's reserve account. We must undertake an aggressive effort to reduce the costs of Town government. This may require eliminating staff positions and postponing significant projects. Impact fee increases may be a favorable approach because they directly benefit the people paying their cost. Bonding for large capital projects can use today's low interest rates and spread the costs to future residents. Presently there is no support for a property tax.

Terry Parish

Expanding Oro Valley's economic base is vital for the Town's future. We cannot continue to depend on funds generated from new construction and annexations, because as the rate of new construction and annexations decline so will related revenue. The Town's current fiscal condition illustrates this point. Economic forecasts indicate revenue will increase this year by 10.0% or $4.2M. That positive prediction would be more meaningful if the increase was the result of new business growth however, the increase will primarily come from annexation related revenue. As a result, new expenses inherent with expanding the town's area of responsibility will consume some of the increase.

We must develop more revenue streams within the existing town area. Public costs associated with this type of growth are minimal, especially when development is targeted to meet the needs of residents and attract consumers for whom the town is not responsible (tourists and residents from other communities).

As a fiscal conservative I believe increasing property tax in Oro Valley would represent a complete failure of the Town government to properly manage our resources. We already pay the highest property tax in the state. If this continues the expenses we incur as a result of property tax will begin to erode property values.

Question 3:

During the last four years, the Oro Valley Town Council has made hundreds of decisions, adopted numerous public policies and generated public discussion and debate regarding any number of issues. Please identify the top three council actions over the last four years that you strongly disagreed with and the top three council actions you strongly agreed with. Please explain your answers.

Don Cox

I believe the Council acted very responsibly in creating the mechanism for revision of the General Plan. It should have been more emphatic and given better direction to the Town staff on educating the citizens about the General Plan. A great deal of citizen involvement and taxpayer's dollars were spent putting the proposed plan together. This expenditure should have included funds to provide accurate information of the contents of the revised plan.

I believe the Council should have taken action to resolve the fire service controversy. Standards have been on the table for more than four years and their implementation has been delayed. It' is time to refocus and move forward.

I believe the Town Council could have been more aggressive not only in their annexation policies but in the actual process of annexation. The failure to annex one of the areas on our southern boundary was, in my opinion, a misstep.

There are so many positive things that it is difficult to pick only three. I believe the action to finally bring an alternative water source to our Town is a huge plus.

Acquisition of the Naranja Town site must rank as an A+.

The building of a high quality health care facility in out Town is an accomplishment that not only benefits our citizens but is a great regional asset.

Helen Dankwerth

The worst decision was to proceed with a vote on the proposed General Plan despite consistent public commentary regarding its shortcomings. Council, after having spent $500,00 to develop the plan, insisted on retaining loosely interpretable language, references to MUN's, and including controversial procedures regarding increasing/decreasing housing density. Even today, council refuses to acknowledge the reasons for the failure of passage - preferring to believe that the citizens "did not understand", and planning to spend another $14,000 on a poll to support this specious argument (in addition to the estimated $50,000 cost for a second attempt at passage).

Approving plans for a 5 story hotel/conference center, whose silhouette would detract from the beauty of Pusch Ridge, is evidence of a blatant disregard for the wishes of our citizens and a lack of respect for established development guidelines. The proposed technological office park - which would have housed businesses contributing to the long term economic health of Oro Valley - has been reduced to yet another retail center whose targeted tenants have still to be defined.

Finally, council's consistent pattern of allowing increased housing density, specifically with regard to the Monterra Project at La Canada and Tangerine (changed from one house per three acres to 160 homes on 9000 square foot lots) and preliminary approval for 137 homes on five-six thousand square foot lots at First and Lambert show disdain for the expressed wishes of the people. IT IS TIME FOR EXCEPTIONS, EXEMPTIONS, AND DISMISSAL OF ADHERENCE TO CODES TO END!

On the plus side, council deserves kudos for the successful launching of our library, the efforts culminating in Northwest Hospital's decision to build in Oro Valley, and the annexation of the Oracle-Magee area. Each of these achievements will have a meaningful and long-lasting effect on the cultural, physical, and economic health of our town.

Lyra Done

In recent years, Oro Valley has been fortunate to have many qualified and motivated elected officials, town staff members, and citizen volunteers. The results of their efforts have helped build a true community of excellence, including the new library, the road and bike path improvements, the new hospital, the new parks, and the new schools. In addition, many high paying jobs have been created in Oro Valley, and the location of a future park has been established. Because I have attended most of the Town Council meetings in the past several years, I can say with certainty that these improvements would not have occurred without the professionalism of our town staff and the willingness of our elected officials to persevere against adversity.

In retrospect, the decision to spend money to relocate a giant cactus only to have it struck and killed by lightening was unfortunate.

In addition, although there was considerable citizen involvement during the development of the General Plan, this level of involvement did not generalize to the citizenry as a whole and more effort should have been made to educate citizens.

Finally, I would have liked to have seen the development plans for the Naranja Town Site Park more coordinated between the scores of citizens developing the concept plan and the specific needs of the town in regards to their municipal operations.

Richard Feinberg

The top three actions by the Oro Valley Council I disagree with are:

The approval of building 90 houses in the honeybee canyon area that was promised by developers to remain open space. (Broken promises, developing, blading and grading our magnificent riparian desert and decreasing our open space.)

The approval of a 5 story hotel below the La Reserve Development at the Rooney Ranch Town Center. First Ave. and Oracle Rd. (Desecration of our scenic corridor)

Approval of the development on La Canada and Tangerine. The property was zoned for approximately 25 houses and council rezoned the property for about 160 houses. (Tremendous impact on the surrounding neighborhoods, and the schools.

The top three actions by the Oro Valley Council I agree with are:

The transferring of the magnificent 40 foot saguaro on Tangerine Road to make room for the La Canada extension was a very generous and thoughtful act by Council to save our magnificent historical heritage.

The realigning of First Ave. and Palisades Road. The Council was very concerned with the many auto accidents and sadly, a fatality on First Ave. They listened to the desires and the concerns of the residents to realign First Ave. and make it a safer road, they took action and had it completed in a few months.

The documentation in the Proposed general plan of the Kai/Capri property to be developed with approximately 254 houses instead of the 750 requested by the developer/landowner. (Council and staff met with the Developer and presidents of adjacent Homeowner's Associations and came to a fair and just compromise.)

Barry Gillaspie

I Disagree With:

€ Preannexation agreements that lower Oro Valley standards and take away rights of OV Citizens to be heard.

€ The Town process for approving the General Plan. It diminished much of the input from the citizen steering committee and seemed to unduly favor property owners.

€ Arbitrary enforcement of the zoning code for whatever purpose. Enforcement must be fair and consistent and changed via the legally defined processes.

I Agree With:

€ The work the Town has done to build Coyote Run in benefit of our senior population.

€ With the work to deliver a renewable water supply in terms of reclaimed for golf courses and public parks.

Terry Parish

THREE COUNCIL ACTIONS I DISAGREED WITH

A) I strongly disagreed with the decision to allow Beztac Companies to move forward with changing the approved commercial plan to allow a mixture of apartments and commercial buildings on a small 10-11 acre parcel at Lambert Lane and La Canada Drive. A poor precedent was set when Beztak Companies was in affect rewarded for failing to abide by its agreement.

B) I believe the town erred when it failed to annex the state land north of Oro Valley. The annexation could have assured that the property would not be developed in a way that could detract from our quality of life. The interests of the people in Oro Valley and the businesses who have invested here should be better protected.

C) The unwillingness of the town government to decisively address the issue of fire protection and emergency medical treatment is a significant failure. This issue has been studied numerous times during the past five years at taxpayer expense. Citizens are at risk while the town council continues grapple with the issue.

THREE COUNCIL ACTIONS I AGREED WITH

A) The purchase of the CALMAT site to be used as a town center is an example of proactive thinking. The council should plan for construction of the new town center and explore funding alternatives.

B) The annexation of the Oracle and Magee area was of benefit to the town's financial future. It created a new revenue stream without increasing the population density.

C) I strongly agree with the town's continued support of the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council (GOVAC). GOVAC is a great organization that provides a myriad of positive services for the community. They do a wonderful job of exposing children to the arts in a family setting. My wife and I have taken our children with us to several GOVAC sponsored events and have always walked away with a strong feeling of pride in the community and gratitude that we live in Oro Valley.

Question 4:

Small businesses comprise a significant percentage of employers in Oro Valley and enhance the financial stability of the town. What town policies or actions would you advocate to change because you believe they hinder attracting new small businesses to town or because they prevent or hinder existing small businesses from being successful?

Or, what can the town do to capitalize on its economic development policies and help ensure businesses that open in the town stay open in the town.

Don Cox

I see three areas that the Town should address and one that the citizens must accomplish.

First, the Town must examine its code requirements to eliminate any unnecessary delays in the development approval process. In conjunction with this the Town must eliminate those requirements for zoning that are more appropriately reviewed at a later time in the development process. This will eliminate unnecessary upfront costs that may mean the difference between a business locating in Oro Valley or going elsewhere.

Secondly, the Town must insure that when a plan is submitted, the review of that plan is complete, accurate and reflects the requirements of our codes THE FIRST TIME. Follow-up inspections must be consistent and not contradict one another.

The third Town action deals with roadway construction when it interferes with the ability of consumers to avail themselves to commercial enterprises in our Town. We must do what ever is possible, within budget guidelines, to minimize the negative impact on our business community. We failed miserably to do this with the La Canada and Tangerine road projects. We must learn from these mistakes and not repeat them.

Our citizens must elect candidates to the Oro Valley Town Council who will allow well planned nonresidential growth while protecting the best interests of the Town.

Helen Dankwerth

The greatest obstacle faced by small business owners opening an establishment in Oro Valley seems to lie in the plant building and improvement process. Extended delays between petition and approval, conflicting, frequently unreasonable and inconsistent demands by inspectors and lack of cooperation are oft- cited complaints impacting the path to profitability.

Possible remedies could include regularly scheduled meetings with petitioner, contractor, and staff at which processes and procedures are explained and written guidelines, specific to codes, are provided. A faster turnaround time between plan submittal and approval, and an attitude of cooperation, would be to everyone's benefit.

Lyra Done

Small business is not only the backbone of our town, but of our nation. Although it is not role of government to assist small business in their day-to-day operations, I would like to see our town government actively and consistently participate in small business focus groups. For example, shopping and employment areas could be named in such a way that consumers need not see the businesses' sign. Rather, small business could advertise their location is within a particular business park. In addition, the Town web site could include a complete list of all companies that have an Oro Valley business license under business categories. We could also actively support the "Shop around The Corner" program being developed and promoted by our hometown newspaper. These are just examples of the kinds of things the Town of Oro Valley could do to enhance economic growth of small businesses.

Richard Feinberg

I believe the health of small business is key to the character and life of Oro Valley and this has been my thinking for many years, having written about this in 1977.

To enhance its success, I believe we would need to ensure expeditious handling of their permit, development and other needs to grow and expand by our Community Development staff. This might include they even be given some priority over others, assuming key review, codes, criteria, rules and the desires of our community are adhered to. I'm in favor of special considerations on sales taxes and /or development fees only in rare circumstances when it facilitates business or commercial we truly want in our Town-not for everyone!! In addition, I would seriously be concerned about the introduction of Big box stores, like Wal-Mart, that may put great pressure for survival on small businesses.

Barry Gillaspie

Fundamentally, government should minimize its tampering with the free enterprise system. Primarily, the town should provide for the public health, safety and welfare. Businesses need consistency and certainty in the application of the rules. Oro Valley is a demanding municipality in terms of business site planning and architecture. We shouldn't apologize or change, but we can improve by assuring business owners that they will not be treated arbitrarily and by adopting a philosophy to explain and assist versus hinder. The physical beauty of our community enhances the profitability of our businesses.

Terry Parish

The Town of Oro Valley must recognize that the financial health of small business is critical to our future economic stability and quality of life. The town council must act accordingly and provide clear direction to community business leaders. Opening a business in any town is a speculative venture. Businessmen and women must consider a variety of issues relating to the nature of the community and the business climate to determine the potential for success. The town council must be decisive, so business leaders can make decisions based on a clear vision of where the town is going. It should be apparent that Oro Valley is friendly to quality small businesses.

Town leaders must streamline the bureaucracy without sacrificing standards. Once plans are approved it should not be difficult to open a quality business in Oro Valley.

The overall nature and quality of town services should attract desirable business. The town must continue to provide quality infrastructure. We must also maintain a safe crime free environment with equitable and affordable fire protection throughout the town.

Question 5:

It is common to see a local chamber of commerce and a municipality working together to attract, assist and promote local businesses. What do you think is the appropriate role of the town in regards to the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce? Please include any changes you would like to see in the present working relationship between the town and the Chamber of Commerce.

Don Cox

Currently the Town contracts with the NPCCofC to provide information services to potential residents or folks seeking general information about Oro Valley. This is a very healthy and productive working relationship. This relationship should be continued and if necessary enhanced to the mutual benefit of both parties.

Helen Dankwerth

The town and Chamber need to form a partnership in developing and implementing a plan to entice specific businesses to Oro Valley. Keeping the Chamber apprised of code changes and their enforcement, as well as ongoing updates as to the status of significant road, commercial, and housing development is crucial. Chamber members, together with the town, might host in Oro Valley - a two day fair to market the area as well as local business. Exhibit booths, displays, and workshops would not only show what we have to offer to potential residents and entrepreneurs, but begin the process of a step-by-step guideline thru town procedures.

Finally, I propose the creation of a "Shopper's Incentive Program" jointly promoted by the Town of Oro Valley and the Chamber of commerce. This program, rewarding residents of Oro Valley for patronizing Oro Valley businesses, would serve to reduce fiscal "leakage" and support local merchants thru a rebate program based on a percentage of monies spent in local establishments equating to a rebate "coupon" redeemable at cooperating local stores.

Lyra Done

I compliment the efforts of both the Town of Oro Valley Economic Development Department and the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce and would like to see an expansion of those efforts, several times over. I would like to see the town work closely with the Chamber to cross reference businesses within the town on the Town and Chamber web sites. I would also like to see more regular and productive meetings between the town government and the existing private business sector. In addition, I would support the concept of a business hotline and web connection that would provide a resource where existing and potential future business operators could get their questions answered related to doing business in our town.

Richard Feinberg

Although I'm not as close to this issue as I would like, I truly believe the Town and Chamber ought to be working closely together to further the interest of each and the Chamber members. Communication should be strong and any differences should be worked out actively and with the help of other as needed. However, decisions on the part of the town should always put the values, concerns and Quality of Life for its citizens first.

Barry Gillaspie

A strong Council must have a mechanism to hear the voices of its constituents - businesses, neighborhood advocates, conservationists, and families. The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce has been actively involved with the Town for many years, particularly with the Government Affairs Committee. I would welcome the opportunity to work with the Chamber to hear the needs and concerns of our business community. You can count on me to listen and provide clear communication on the issues that I support.

Terry Parish

The Town of Oro Valley and the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce must work as partners in preserving and enhancing the quality of life in Oro Valley. The chamber of commerce is made up of the finest businessmen and women in the community. A healthy town breeds strong vibrant businesses, which then provide revenue back to the town. A strong collaborative relationship between the town and business is beneficial to everyone. The council should not dictate policy to the chamber but should the chamber consider a valuable resource.

2-year candidates

Question 1:

Over the past few years there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the need for Oro Valley to establish a solid financial base which is not dependent upon homebuilding or property taxes. In these discussions the concept of "desirable" businesses that generate significant sales tax revenue is often promoted. Please identify which types of businesses in Oro Valley are undesirable, if any, and why. Additionally, please list the types of desirable businesses you want to come here and why. How will these businesses be attracted to Oro Valley? If your answer includes the offering of incentives, please identify what specific incentives you would offer.

Ken "K.C." Carter

First a list of non desirable businesses coming.

One business, I believe we enough of in the town, are Drug stores. There are sufficient in place now to serve the residents. Spreading the business among more stores will not significantly increase total taxable sales nor reduce the "leakage" to stores outside Oro Valley. Further, it uses commercial space that would otherwise be available for more productive uses. The same applies to oil stations with mini-markets, small food stores and pizza places. We have annexed several units of these combination and more are located in the town limits. We have enough of these to keep us happy and they should be able to survive.

Desirable business would be high end stores and upgraded restaurants which will give us a good sales tax return, plus keep people from driving out of the town for these kinds of goods and meals. A high end store would be an upscale dept. store, technical stores etc. A large Walmart would create a lot of tax dollars, but the location would have to be carefully selected.

To get these stores to come in, we must have the streets or money to build the streets to support the traffic.

I would hate to give away a large % of the sales tax for long periods just to get these stores here a year or so sooner.

Conny Culver

The high quality of homes in Oro Valley could easily support unique and upscale businesses like Scottsdale AZ. While family restaurants and stores provide essential services, the median income of Oro Valley suggests that we could attract and hold upscale shops and services. With those goods that demand a higher price tag, comes an increased sales tax. Plus, Oro Valley could attract outside shoppers further improving our financial situation.

It is my understanding that Home Depot, Target, and Albertson's located in Oro Valley without incentives or demands for a portion of our sales tax. They invested in the community and our residents (and surrounding residents) responded. Incentives should be reserved for ONLY those extreme situations that are virtually guaranteed to dramatically improve our income, a venue not typically found in a town the size of Oro Valley. I propose we visit and consult with our counterparts in Scottsdale and Carefree to learn what has worked for them.

Dick Johnson

As we move toward independence from growth related revenue sources, it is imperative that we replace these sources with stable retail sales tax revenue. While we find certain businesses such as those that are service related acceptable and creative of business activity, they do not generate sales tax revenue. Therefore, we must focus on attracting those businesses that produce taxable revenue. Additionally, we should concentrate on businesses whose products are not being sold, or are under represented in our community, but are in demand. Such businesses would include furniture and related home furnishings, restaurants, movie theaters, art galleries, and possibly new car sales under the right conditions. Presently, we have a contract with the Buxton Company to study Oro Valley and its retail sales potential. This highly respected company is studying all aspects of retail sales including land availability, demographics, and specific businesses that would find our community highly desirable. This report will be out in February. With this report and the Buxton companies close relationship with retailers throughout the nation, we feel we can attract those businesses the citizens of Oro Valley want.

Bart Rochman

At the current time, there appears to be a feeling among some residents that there are enough drug stores and gasoline stations in the Town and we would not want any adult book or video establishments. The Town should be concentrating on the types of businesses that are in the recently opened La Encantada Center. The Town needs an entertainment area with multiplex theaters, sit down restaurants, and destination resorts.

If it is necessary to provide incentives to lure such businesses, the Town has policies to assist with infrastructure building through a sharing of sales taxes and bed taxes for a limited period of time.

Question 2:

Describe the town's current financial condition and what you will do as a councilmember to either maintain or improve that condition? Under what circumstances would you ask voters to approve a primary or secondary property tax?

Ken "K.C." Carter

It appears to me that we are just holding our own and many times digging into our surplus money to keep funding new facilities for the town and other ventures.

I would make every effort to bring industry in the commercial area that is high sales tax business. Also desirable businesses are those that use the highly skilled labor that we have here but are going out of town to other jobs.

There are many ways to increase cash flow on a short term basis, such as adding a tax on new construction and renovations. We need to take a hard look at impact fees to determine whether development is or is not paying its own way.

One of the main features of my platform is that I will NOT vote for a property tax.

Conny Culver

Depending upon building permits and fees does little to insure our long-term financial future. We need strong revenue generating tax base that has continuity. I suggest we aggressively search for new revenue generating business, offering our demographics as evidence of the attraction. Staff needs to compose the economic arguments that will entice business to come to Oro Valley.

With a properly organized & motivated council, property taxes should not be required. Earlier decisions that gave away huge incentives have resulted in our fiscal situation. We must learn from the past and from other cities.

Dick Johnson

I am proud of our financial condition considering the economic problems that have affected the nation and state since 9/11. With diminishing revenue sharing from the state and the drop in growth related income we have felt the impact. However, due to prudent budgeting from prior years, we have built a strong surplus in our available funds. Presently, we have over $6 million in our surplus account. This represents about twice the amount the Council has established as our contingency amount. This surplus has allowed us to reduce the severity of our revenue "peaks and valleys." And do so while maintaining the level of services our citizens have come to expect. The economics picture is improving. State revenues are up considerably as are the sales tax and growth related revenues within OV. With annexation of the Oracle and Magee area, we have added significantly to our tax base. The future looks optimistic with the proposed development of several high quality retail centers in Oro Valley. I know that property tax is of concern to our citizens. It is important to know that only the voters can approve property taxes. Therefore, should a property tax measure be sent to the voters it will be only after extensive citizen involvement and support.

Bart Rochman

The current Town budget of $103 million is balanced and the Town is in a fiscally

sound financial condition with a contingency fund that exceeds the minimum amount set by policy. However, with the reduced number of residential building permits now and into the future resulting in lower building sales taxes, impact fees, and state shared revenues, it will be necessary to identify other revenue sources so that we can continue to provide Town services. The Town is directing its efforts to expanding sales tax revenue to replace this reduction. Additional retail businesses is one answer to this problem. If this is not successful, other sources of revenue would be examined, such as increasing the construction sales tax rate, increasing the current 0% sales tax rate on telecommunication and utility services, and/or charging fees for services. Another source could be a property tax which can only be imposed by a vote of the citizens--it cannot be imposed by the council. I have been a member of the Oro Valley budget and bond committee prior to becoming a council member so I am very familiar with Town finances.

Question 3:

During the last four years, the Oro Valley Town Council has made hundreds of decisions, adopted numerous public policies and generated public discussion and debate regarding any number of issues. Please identify the top three council actions over the last four years that you strongly disagreed with and the top three council actions you strongly agreed with. Please explain your answers.

Ken "K.C." Carter

Three major items that I strongly do not agree with the council were as follows:

The final acceptance and letting the builder build apartments on the Lambert and La Canada corner. I realize that the zoning allowed the door to be opened , but firm stands by the council in the very beginning would have resulted in a better outcome.

Another Council action with which I disagree, is the General Plan. It ignored much of the resident input which it received.

Last, allowing the high density development to take over piece after piece of our beautiful pieces of property. Allowing 5000 SF lots on the last 15 acres was wrong.

Good projects were getting Ventana Medical Labs and the new N.W. Hospital on Tangerine. These were super good moves.

Another was setting up the Improvement district for First Ave, Oracle and Push View Lane. The local business will greatly benefit from the new roads and should support a share of the costs.

Completing the park along Lambert with the facilities for the residents was also money well spent.

Conny Culver

Council Decisions: Disagree

A. Beztak - The Development Review Board (DRB) carefully considered Beztak's compliance with the Oro Valley Zoning Code regarding the second Grading Exception request. Beztak met none of the criteria and the DRB unanimously denied their request. However, the developer appealed to council, which over turned DRB's denial and granted their request. Council completely disregarded our zoning code and our diligence. It demoralized the volunteers who spent many hours on this significant matter.

B. Proposed General Plan - Of the many issues that confront our town, none in recent history compares to the continuing controversy over our town's ill-fated general plan. Those of us who opposed the plan were specific and spoke out publicly.

Amongst our reasons were:

First, that the proposed plan made it TOO EASY to increase density and thereby build high density housing, including apartment houses, particularly within a MUN.

Second, that the plan made it TOO difficult to retain open space.

People stated their opposition to the Mixed Use Designation, which, no matter how council tries to conceal it, remains in the proposed Plan.

Citizen committee volunteers were deeply dismayed when council disregarded their opinions & recommendations. As one of the other candidates said at a recent forum: "The people who worked on the committee spread the word. Defeat the plan at the polls. "

Council seems determined to "sell" the existing plan despite the public's rejection. I submit that council is not in the "sales" business nor should it employ expensive marketing to "sell" a plan the public has overwhelming rejected.

I believe that the voters want open space & low-density development, but they have little confidence that their wishes will be followed by this council.

C. Council going to 7

Expanding the council to seven members is a good decision. It allows for greater representation and reflects our growing population. However, I disagree with the way it is being implemented and I question the motivation to embark on this action at this time. In my opinion, by dividing the election process into two and four year candidates, this plan provides the incumbents an advantage.

AGREE

A. I agree with the purchase of land set aside for Naranja Park. Parks are wonderful assets to a vibrant community. They provide opportunities for exhibitions, concerts, conferences, and family oriented events.

B. Smoking ban in restaurants: This is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the community and the employees.

C. Library: This is a GREAT asset to our community. I sincerely hope the problems we are currently addressing with Pima County can be resolved quickly and operations at the library will not be affected.

Dick Johnson

This question for me is somewhat hard to if not impossible to answer, as I participated in the voting on the Council actions. There are a few actions that I would change in hindsight. The General Plan was such an action. The 1996 General Plan is for the most part, a good document. One that serves nicely as the foundation for a new plan. If we had taken that plan and added those elements required by the Growing Smarter legislation, plus updated the land use maps and language, we could have presented the changes in a much more condensed and comprehensible manner to our citizens.

Bart Rochman

There were no council decisions with which I strongly disagree. Council decisions are not all right or all wrong except when there may be a legal issue involved. Council members are no different from voters in that we all want what is best for "our community of excellence". However, the path that we take to get to the goal may not be the same for all. The final result may not please everyone but the council, at that time, feels that it is acceptable to the majority. Sometimes it may be that the council decision was correct but the implementation process was not acceptable to certain interests. In this instance the council should look to improve the implementation process.

There are council decision that I am most proud to have been a part of because they will be an ongoing source of enjoyment to the current residents and for future generations.

They are:

(1) The acquisitions of 175 acres that when added to the 38 acres already owned by the Town will provide a 213 acre park site

(2) The action to bring alternative water to the Town for use on turf areas such as golf courses, parks, etc. This will protect the Town's precious potable water supply.

(3) The Oracle/Magee annexation which provides Town residents with services they desire right here in our own town and also provides additional revenue which will help support the financial structure.

Question 4:

Small businesses comprise a significant percentage of employers in Oro Valley and enhance the financial stability of the town. What town policies or actions would you advocate to change because you believe they hinder attracting new small businesses to town or because they prevent or hinder existing small businesses from being successful?

Or, what can the town do to capitalize on its economic development policies and help ensure businesses that open in the town stay open in the town.

Ken "K.C." Carter

Small business units currently outnumber medium and larger businesses in Oro Valley. We need to maintain a mix of business sizes. Small business tend to be service oriented which generate small amounts of sales tax revenue. But we need a sufficient number and variety of these businesses so that residents do not need to go outside the town for their service needs, as that invites more sale tax leakage for other products which do produce sales tax revenue. Town policy should be to help research the service needs which small businesses can succeed at and to simplify procedures for small business to comply with Town ordinances.

Conny Culver

Small businesses represent a significant percentage of Oro Valley employers and they enhance the financial stability of the town.

I owned a small business and remain intimately familiar with the many challenges they face. The permitting process is frequently overwhelming and proceeds too slowly. One of the major constraints all small businesses faces is time. We must set up a plan to streamline the approval process to allow small businesses to open quickly and efficiently.

We should have a complete inventory of those businesses are already in our town and actively seek additional ones to serve our community and complement the existing services.

Dick Johnson

Small businesses are the cornerstone of this community. Having said that, I am passionate about having a highly effective, responsive, and customer friendly process for businesses to locate in Oro Valley. This means that tenant improvements, new construction, business licenses, and business related issues must receive top priority by the Town's staff. It only makes sense. A day's delay affects not only the business, but also the town's revenue stream. We need to move from a reputation as a difficult place to open a business, and become a town known as friendly to business. This does not mean reducing our high standards, but being sensitive to what needs to be done and its impact on the Town. I have been very active in the economic development arena. As a Board member of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, I have repeatedly promoted Oro Valley as the place to stay, shop and open your business. We have just approved the implementation of a new software process where builders and business owners can use on-line plan reviews, plan changes and permit checking to expedite the process. This will reduce time and assist everybody involved. Once a business is opened, then it is imperative that it have a good chance at succeeding. Our economic development team visits and will continue to visit these businesses to assist them. During periods of road construction, it is absolutely critical that we have the involvement of the business community in the planning and construction activities. Contracts for road projects must contain provisions that prioritize business access. There must be incentives and / or disincentives included that make completion of business related areas an important part of the contract. I firmly believe in the motto "Buy Oro Valley!" We all should think first of our merchants before we shop elsewhere. I intend to emphasize this within the Town's purchasing procedures.

Bart Rochman

The Town needs to review its construction policies to help building and remodeling contractors work in a more efficient manner. There should be an online information system available so that all parties know the status of a project at any given time. It is also necessary that the Town work with the Chamber in educating the citizens of the importance of small businesses to the Town and the need to patronize local business.

The Town should institute a communication policy with business so that there will be a continuous dialogue to address issues in which the Town can be of assistance. In many instances the growth of existing businesses provides more jobs than new businesses.

Question 5:

It is common to see a local chamber of commerce and a municipality working together to attract, assist and promote local businesses. What do you think is the appropriate role of the town in regards to the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce? Please include any changes you would like to see in the present working relationship between the town and the Chamber of Commerce.

Ken "K.C." Carter

The Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce is vital to our town in providing data for out of state and in state business about the NW area of Pima County. Close cooperation with the Town is a must. We need to keep this relationship at a high standard so that everyone in the area benefits from the relationship

Conny Culver

I support the Chamber and their efforts. With a strong foundation of mutual support we can work together towards achieving the same goals. I believe council members and the Chamber should meet regularly to discuss what needs to be done. Together, the Town of Oro Valley and the Chamber will create a place businesses want to go!

Dick Johnson

I have always supported a close relationship with our Chamber. The Chamber is a recognized means for the Town to expand its reach to businesses, visitors and others. In some ways, it is our public relations arm and "cheerleader." It is my opinion that the Chamber must continue and possibly expand its role in business related issues, i.e. sign ordinances, political forums / candidates, etc. They are the voice of business and must be heard at Town Hall. I am working hard to preserve of Steam Pump Ranch. It is my opinion that this area would be ideal for a visitor's center and office for the Chamber. Should this happen, I envision an even greater relationship with the Chamber. Our recent annexation of the Oracle Magee area is testimony to the importance of the Chamber to this process.

Bart Rochman

In order to attract, assist and promote local business, the Town economic development department must work closely with not only the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce (NPCCC) but with all other economic development organizations in the county. Since the NPCCC is the Chamber most attuned to Oro Valley, there should be constant communication between them and the Town. Information on new prospective businesses should be shared and a combined strategy should be developed to pursue the business. Assist each other in state legislative matters of common interest and concern. Work together to find a site for a Chamber visitor center in Oro Valley.

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