The Northwest EXPLORER has asked the 14 Oro Valley Town Council candidates to answer 10 questions about various issues affecting the town. Most of the questions were asked in a way that encouraged the candidates to take a position on the issue or provide specific ideas or solutions. It is the Northwest EXPLORER's intent that in providing the answers to these questions, readers will gain some insight as to where each candidate stands on these issues, how well informed they are about them and how they may govern the town if elected. The candidates were limited to 100 words or less per answer.
1. Why did Oro Valley voters reject the General Plan and what changes will you propose that will cause voters to pass it?
Richard Feinberg: The General Plan was rejected, I believe, because the citizens of Oro Valley in the past few years have developed a lack of trust with the town. If the town had adhered to more of the recommendations of its steering committee, I believe it would have passed. The plan didn't apply consistent commitment so that the citizens could rely on it. There are two policy statements. There should be one. Mixed Use Neighborhood was supposed to be taken out, it was left in. Two many loopholes, ambiguity and contradictions were in the plan. Fix Them.
Helen Dankwerth: Voters rejected the General Plan because they DO NOT want mixed use neighborhoods (particularly on small sites) or high density housing. Passage will be likely if ALL references to MUN's are removed; a majority, rather than minority vote of the council is required to increase housing density; and equivocal language (ie: may/could) is replaced by "shall/will", thus reducing interpretation open to abuse of the letter and spirit of the plan.
Lyra Done: The General Plan is a long, complex document and many voters may not have had the opportunity to learn about all of its details before they voted. Some voters may have cast their vote based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Citizen participation is vital to the development of a General Plan for the town of Oro Valley and it is important that citizens increase their level of participation in the democratic process. In particular, those who voted against the General Plan must actively participate in the development of a General Plan they will support in the polling place.
Don Cox: The General Plan failed because the Town of Oro Valley failed to provide the citizens with accurate and timely information regarding the Plan. The opposition to the General Plan did a fine job of providing the public with very timely, deceptive and inflammatory information. They were able to convince the public that a Yes vote on the plan would mean an increase in taxes. Seeking unbiased information from voters as to why they opposed the Plan is a prudent course to follow. Only then will those responsible for making the changes truly know what changes to make.
Terry Parish: Oro Valley voters rejected the General Plan because they did not agree with the town council regarding our future. Voters did not like the uncertainty left in the plan as to what direction the town would take or even if the plan was to be followed. Words like "Mixed Use" were left in the plan, to be defined later. Further complicating the issue, the General Plan did not consider the effects that the areas surrounding Oro Valley will have on our town's future. How can we call any document a plan if it fails to address the future from a global perspective?
Barry Gillaspie: Problems that require change include: The plan makes it easier to change uses to higher intensity land use than lower intensity land use particularly within a growth area; people in or around growth areas will not have the representation they deserve. Mixed Use Development, although not mapped is discussed and inadequately defined. Plan wording must be precise to ensure that it is followed, consistently applied and that the Council is held accountable. The P&Z and the town council significantly modified the content witnessed by the steering committee in the final stages, disenfranchising citizen support. Let's not let this happen again.
Bart Rochman: At this time, the town has no definitive evidence for voter rejection of the General Plan. There is a committee currently working on a procedure to determine the reasons. Once these various reasons are determined, they will be addressed and the revised plan will be submitted for passage. My own personal survey indicates many reasons for rejection, some of which were confusion over references to taxes, mixed use neighborhoods, and special resource areas.
Dick Johnson: We didn't do a good job informing our fellow citizens that the plan only affects less than 10 percent of Oro Valley's land and that it would not raise taxes. We've formed a task force to survey our residents about their specific concerns. With that information, we'll make some changes and re-submit it for a vote.
Conny Culver: Had I been on council, I would have VOTED NO to the plan and saved the town the cost of an election. When 60 percent of the public rejects a $500,000 plan approved by council, that's an indication there is a serious gap in representation. Reasons it failed: 1. The citizens have repeatedly rejected Mixed Use Neighborhoods (MUN). Council promised this issue was dead, yet the failed General Plan brought MUN's back to life! 2. It was too easy to increase density and too hard to preserve open space. 3. The failed plan gave permission for growth we can't afford.
Ken Carter: I believe that the defeat of the general plan was due to the residents' input being used sometimes and many other times this was not considered. The history of the existing council voting against the majority of the residents' wishes. The residents were told that mixed use would not be used and would be left out of the plan, this did not take place. Form a group of Oro Valley residents and have this group formulate the new general plan. I believe both sides represented and blending (which is required) will result in an acceptable plan.
2. What is your solution to the town's fire and emergency services debate? If you propose a town-run fire department, please say how it will be funded.
Feinberg: For the next few years I would keep the two fire providers. When Oro Valley implements the new level of standards, Golder Ranch and Rural/Metro will provide even better service than at the present. Competition will keep the standards high. After a few years I believe the goal should be to have one town provider. The town of Oro Valley should not get into the fire service business. I believe it will cost the citizens more money than at present, plenty of red tape and where is the town getting the money to start a new fire service?
Dankwerth: I OPPOSE a municipally run fire department. I support the selection of Golder Ranch/Northwest Fire (should the merger occur) as the sole, town-wide service supplier, providing the current high standards continue to be met or exceeded. Following a comprehensive analysis of costs, tax implications, necessary additional infrastructure and personnel, inclusive of future annexation requirements, (to be publicly displayed, explained, and commented upon) it should by brought to a vote by Oro Valley citizens.
Done: The debate is the solution to the fire and emergency services issue. A constructive dialogue will help ensure the best overall option is selected for implementation. As a member of the town council, it would be my responsibility to see the citizens have the best and most cost-effective fire and emergency services available. Currently, our possible sources for fire and emergency services are a private company, a fire district, and a traditional fire department. All of the options have pros and cons, and an open discussion of these pros and cons will inform the solution to this issue.
Cox: Oro Valley is currently served by two fire services. The concerns created by this dual service make it clear that one provider is necessary. A lengthy, costly but productive process already established standards for fire service. The Town needs to enact those standards sooner rather than later.
Parish: Public safety is the primary responsibility of any government. The town of Oro Valley is in the unique position to be able to facilitate excellent fire service without incurring the costs normally associated. Golder Ranch Fire District needs to be expanded to cover the entire town. This must be done in a thoughtful manner in order to prevent a reduction in the service already provided to the Sun City and Copper Creek areas. I do not understand why we are contemplating the expenditure of $12.5 million dollars so that we can contract with these same resources.
Gillaspie: I favor high quality professional fire and emergency services for all residents. To this end, I support expansion of the Golder Ranch fire district. This method would be competitive in cost effectiveness at a high level of service to our citizens. Fire districts fund their operations through the assessed valuation of property, which can provide some tax benefit to the customer. These revenues are returned directly to fire and emergency services, not the general fund of a town where they may by diverted. Fire districts have elected governing boards that can be replaced by the customer as needed.
Rochman: The town has collected information on fire protection standards and should now adopt those needed for Oro Valley. Once this is done, the town should select the fire service provider(s) to be used to assure the residents that they will have the best fire protection available. This will be done after information on all options including costs for fire service delivery has been gathered and studied.
Johnson: One of the primary duties of a city or town is to provide emergency services. Oro Valley is in a unique position with a for-profit company and governmental district splitting fire protection duties. We are developing fire standards that both entities will have to meet to provide more equal protection to all residents, regardless of whether they live in the fire district or contract with Rural/Metro.
Culver: On the issue of fire protection, the current leadership has spent over 5 years and $50,000 "investigating our options". After my election, I will propose the direction of a single service provider. I believe Golder Ranch offers the best service and response time. Golder Ranch is a public entity, all records are public, and people have access to them. They are required to conduct an independent audit each year and the results of that audit are filed with the Board of Supervisors and the County Treasurer.
Carter: First, all areas of the town need equal servicing. I believe this can be done by making the new fire ordinance, which is planned and specified that the requirements for equal coverage be provided. I do not propose the town starting a new fire department. Give both fire companies a chance to show that they can meet the requirements and serve the town. The residents expect and should have coverage equal in all parts of town.
3. The town attorney has opined that granting the town's police officers union exclusive bargaining rights for all officers is unconstitutional. The officers union's lawyer says it is constitutional. The debate has the town and the majority of its police officers at loggerheads. How do you propose to resolve this issue?
Feinberg: The legal aspect for bargaining rights for OVPOA must be settled so that the Town and the officers can move forward. I believe the officers have the right to "meet and confer." If both parties can't find an amiable solution then it will be up to the courts, and who wants that. The officers should unite and organize a single group. Being united will give them strength to attain the best working conditions they can get. If they continually fight among themselves they'll go nowhere fast.
Dankwerth: Majority rule being a hallmark of the democratic process, I SUPPORT the position for OVPOA exclusive bargaining rights. I believe that multiple bargaining agents would diminish overall effectiveness in addressing officers' issues with the town. Twelve towns/cities in Arizona, inclusive of 4,000 police officers, currently implement exclusive bargaining rights. NONE have been sued (to date) for non-compliance with the state constitution. Council must not allow itself to be intimidated by a handful of persons, but must exercise the courage of its convictions and strengthen the morale of our public servants.
Done: Differing legal interpretations are the foundation of a healthy democracy. Informed attorneys are aware of a variety of alternative dispute resolution venues available for resolving labor disputes. If the town and the police officers' union do not reach an agreement on their own, then the dispute could be resolved by another means. Although this dispute could be resolved in court, it would be an unnecessarily costly and time-consuming process. I am confident that in the meantime our dedicated law enforcement officers will continue to serve with the level of professionalism that has earned them the reputation they have today.
Cox: The differences between the two factions within our great police department are an internal matter that should be decided internally. The town council must take the advice of the town attorney, seek other counsel or put the town and themselves at risk of civil action. The two factions have already signed an agreement regarding negotiations with the town. This is a good beginning that should be a foundation for further agreements. The town should offer assistance to both sides to mediate the differences.
Parish: It is unconscionable to think that it is unconstitutional for our police to be represented by a democratically elected group of their peers. Other towns and cities have enacted similar ordinances. Are they all wrong? Furthermore it must be stated that the suggested ordinance does not grant the Oro Valley Police Officer's Association or the F.O.P. exclusive bargaining rights. It simply gives the officers a choice and then compels the town manager to negotiate with that choice. If I'm elected I will work to provide our police with these rights.
Gillaspie: I support the right of our public safety officers to select the representation of their choice. The legislation offered by the police officer's union allows the police to change representation, if desired, at defined intervals not to exceed two years. This allows due process for all of the town's public safety personnel and allows them to change representation if it does not meet their needs. Failure to move on this issue will only contribute to continued problems with morale, which could effect recruitment.
Rochman: The town attorney has opined that we are being asked to take an unconstitutional action and would likely face a lawsuit that our best information tells us we would lose. The taxpayers of the town would rightly wonder why we would do that. The OVPOA could still get what they want if, as already proposed, they put an initiative on the ballot. If the OVPOA election is successful, the voters will have told us that they are willing to assume the risk and costs of a lawsuit. If it fails, the issue is resolved.
Johnson: All citizens can hire attorneys on matters that affect the and those attorneys often disagree with the town attorney. But the major and members of the town council have an obligation to follow the advice of the town attorney. If they don't, they put Oro Valley, its taxpayers and themselves at risk for lawsuits. If a majority of the governing body disagrees with the town attorney and agrees with the opinion of another attorney, they have the power to name a new town attorney.
Culver: Our police have the right to decide who will represent them. We live in a democratic society and this is how things are done. Unfortunately, our town is paying legal fees due to their interference in this process. I am deeply concerned that council has been unable to reach an accord with our first defenders, our police. Perhaps the simplest solution is to meet with other cities and towns and examine their policies with respect to police. Oro Valley does not need to incur additional legal bills and/or jeopardize our relationship with our fine officers.
Carter: Question, is the approach by the union of police officers legal by the laws of Arizona? The council should not give the police union exclusive rights until the above question is answered. Get a legal ruling on this matter from our courts. The police officers must settle who will represent the entire group themselves.
4. The town is considering preserving several historic and archaeological sites. Should the town be in the history business? If no, explain why. If yes, explain why and say how preserving the various sites will be funded.
Feinberg: William S. Collins PH.D, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer said, "No community that I know of has ever regretted the decision to preserve the property that best represents its cultural heritage." There is a Pima County bond issue that will be before the citizens to approve in May. The town council and the citizens must support this extremely important issue. Funds in this bond will be for the Steam Pump Ranch, the Kelly Ranch, the Hohokam prehistoric site and property north of the Naranja Park. Supporting open space, historical and cultural sites are supporting Oro Valley's heart and soul.
Dankwerth: Preservation of historical/archaeological sites is a MUST - they are few in number, and an integral part of our identity. Funding should be through a combination of Pima Country bond allocations, corporate funding, foundation grants, and local business and individual donations.
Done: Historic and archaeological artifacts are fragile diaries of people who developed a community where we live today. This heritage is not a renewable resource so we should respect and preserve it to the extent possible. With the assistance of relevant experts, the Town of Oro Valley should identify the most valuable historic and archaeological sites and then pursue the public and private resources needed to preserve these sites. Public sources of preservation funding may be available, and technical assistance may be available from the University of Arizona. Private interests may also support the preservation effort through donations and in-kind contributions.
Cox: Ideally, no. Oro Valley should address its core responsibilities. These are to provide high quality, needed public services to its citizens. However, the sites being considered for preservation have such a symbiotic relationship with Oro Valley, the town cannot be passive in this situation. The Land Conservation Committee, a newly created private group of citizens should receive the support of the town. Private donations, government grants, grants from philanthropic organizations and local Indian tribes should be actively sought to fund this kind of activity. Failing this, the citizens should be asked to support this preservation with a small sales tax.
Parish: Preserving history is important. I believe that the town could facilitate the preservation of historical sites without having to incur the costs. The Heritage Foundation and state grants could be part of that process along with other private funding. The town should also explore corporate sponsorships to increase our success.
Gillaspie: Yes. Historic preservation is a critical element to building a livable and sustainable community that provides a high quality of life. It would be short sighted not to attempt to preserve our historic resources. Funding will have to be pursued on multiple fronts. The Pima County bond process, if successful, will meet some of the needs but not all. Community and private partnerships will be necessary to ensure that we can move forward without taxing the citizens. Appropriate trade offs with property owners that are in the best interests of the citizens may also be feasible.
Rochman: The town has already taken its first step in the process of preserving the Steam Pump Ranch and the Hohokam Village sites. The two sites have been included in the Oro Valley portion of the proposed May county bond issue vote. Funds from this source plus any state, federal and historical funding organizations should be researched and solicited. The town should be in contact with the recently formed independent Land Conservation Committee.
Johnson: It's very important to preserve as much of our history and heritage as we can, and Oro Valley town government should be involved in that effort. Some preservation efforts will require town funding, either through the current year's budget or through bonding, but others can be accomplished through the rezoning process. I favor tailoring the solution for each historical site to the circumstances.
Culver: Historic sites play a vital role in our identity and there are few left in Oro Valley and the surrounding area. I believe we should vigorously support this effort by raising public awareness, seek corporate sponsorship, and fundraising to manage the cost. For example, Cave Creek, Ariz. has a vibrant and active archeological group and a supportive council. When I am elected, I plan to visit with Cave Creek's council to learn more about their highly regarded program and how it operates.
Carter: We should preserve certain areas which have historic and archaeological values to the history of Oro Valley. These areas should be used up for commercial or housing. Each area need not be developed immediately but should be retained and a long range plan developed for purchase.
5. Should the town continue to expand its borders through annexation? If no, say why. If yes, identify areas the town should attempt to annex in the near future.
Feinberg; Oro Valley should benefit not only in getting bigger but also to get better. Getting better means, is there an economic benefit like more tax revenues, unique upscale stores so that citizens can shop there and keep the revenue in Oro Valley, in short, "Stop Leakage." Annexing state property in the north would allow more Tech Park and Campus Park Development, which employs higher salaries. Not only should Oro Valley get better but we should offer the new citizens to be annexed a Quality of Life that they will want to come with open arms and not law suits.
Dankwerth: Expansion continuing south to Ina, east to the Westward Look Resort, west to Shannon (inclusive of the Foothills Mall), and north to the Pinal County line is necessary to provide tax revenues for the services/amenities demanded by our citizens. Initially, the cost of providing additional infrastructure will preclude sizeable revenue - but, over time, annexation of proven commercial areas will be both cost effective and a stimulant to further economic development.
Done: Our community continues to expand because of the high standards of public service that we provide. It is inevitable that the Town of Oro Valley will continue to grow, and it is important we provide the same level of public service to newcomers as we do to current residents and businesses. The annexation of developed areas will allow the Town of Oro Valley to provide area residents and business with the level of public service they value. Likewise, the annexation of undeveloped areas will establish strong development standards that will protect the value of our existing developed areas.
Cox: Yes. The State of Arizona/Pima County land to the north and the land to the west and south currently controlled by Pima County. However we must accomplish this annexation in a manner that is fiscally responsible.
Parish: Some annexation over the next few years is and will continue to be necessary. Annexations should benefit the town financially and cannot be allowed to diminish Oro Valley's unique character. Annexation gives the town more control over future development and if used correctly will bring new revenue streams to the town without increasing population density.
Gillaspie: I am not in favor of poorly planned annexation that detrimentally impacts the existing Oro Valley services, but I understand that annexation may provide for revenue and potential job creation. I support annexation when it meets the favorable cost/benefit analysis criteria and when it favors economic development and enhancement to our quality of life. Annexation must adhere to, not diminish, Oro Valley standards. Areas the town should consider annexing include the Casas Adobes/Westwood Look area, the Foothills Mall area and state land to the north.
Rochman: Any area that wished to be annexed to the town should be looked at on its own merits. The town should look at annexation of the Oracle/Ina area, the Westward Look area, and the Foothills Mall area; if these areas are receptive to becoming a part of Oro Valley and (a.) Town services can be provided in a timely manner (b.) Projected revenue exceeds projected expense (c.) There are no other reasons not to proceed, then the annexation process should go forward.
Johnson: Absolutely, yes! In general, Oro Valley should look toward annexing south to Ina, east to the Catalina Mountains, west to Shannon and north to the state trust land or perhaps to the Pinal County line. As we progress, those boundaries will undoubtedly be refined, depending on what other governments are doing.
Culver: Foothills Mall and Westward Look would greatly enhance Oro Valley's sales tax revenue base. This component of annexation would be beneficial to our town. However, annexation stimulates the demand for more services from the town. Additionally, we must respect the lifestyles of those areas we try to annex. If desirable areas have large acreage or aircraft privileges, we must respect these rights and not try to change them. Therefore, each instance has to be carefully evaluated; I would emphasize respect of people's existing property rights. We should not have to defend ourselves in court to annex adjoining neighborhoods.
Carter: Annexation should continue on a planned process to secure income producing areas. I would work for expansion to the south along Oracle Road for tax producing business. Continue to annex south and west for areas to develop in the future. State lands should be annexed if possible and using this land for possible technical parks to increase employment for this area.
6. Have the town's economic development policies been successful during the past four years? If yes, explain in specifics how they've been successful and what more can be done to further that success. If no, explain what you will do to make them more successful.
Our economic policies may have given the town a quasi comfort level with the development of low-end stores and services to bring in the tax revenues. However, we've had some upscale development in our campus park areas and a hospital that will provide a source of high salary employees and new homebuyers. But certainly we have yet to live up to the desires of many of our citizens, who would like to see higher quality stores being built. Quality should be our focus from now on, not quantity. I believe that goes for retail, commercial and residential.
Our limited economic success is the result of working with proffered development and offering financial incentives (ie: "tax rebates") for extended periods of time. We should seek out developers/entrepreneurs (ie: Ventana Medical) with a proven record of successfully creating high class, innovative, and aesthetically appealing enterprises. We should assemble a "think tank" of retired and current businessmen and civic leaders to "brainstorm", research, and target appropriate ventures. Additionally, hiring, or contracting with, an individual to research, on a national level, grants for cultural , historical , and general revenue funding is imperative.
The efforts of our qualified and motivated elected officials, town staff members, and citizen volunteers have resulted in 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. This success could be expanded in two ways. First, tax incentives during a company's start up period would be attractive. Second, Oro Valley should have an economic development task force that would demonstrate our commitment to economic development. These two strategies are examples of low-cost, high-impact options that can be utilized to increase economic development.
Yes and no. We have been successful in gaining a much-needed hospital. We are currently negotiating for a beautiful development at First Ave. and Oracle. Progress is being made on the property north of Home Depot to Tangerine Road. We have not inked the Ritz-Carlton. Our non-residential revenue income is far from adequate.
The town's economic development policies have been mildly successful to this point. However, I believe we have missed opportunities to develop more revenue generating businesses. We must change the current perception among many in the business community, that the town's bureaucracy inhibits small businesses.
The Town's policies have been successful until now in avoiding a deficit situation. In the long-term, reliance on growth will not provide needed revenue. This will place us in the same dilemma that the city of Tucson currently faces, where services are severely underfunded. We need to plan now to avoid the dilemma. We will need to aggressively pursue all possible funding sources that exclude a property tax, which Oro Valley residents have indicated they don't want. A policy of cost containment/reduction may need to be adopted in all facets of the town's operations and strategic decision-making.
The success is evident in the buildings in the Innovation Park Drive Technical Center, the urgent care facility, the new hospital now under construction, the Cañada Crossroads Shopping Plaza, the Oracle/Pusch Ridge office complex, the Home Depot/Albertsons complex, the Oracle/Magee annexation and others. In addition, there are now at least three or four other projects under review by the town.
Not as successful as we had hoped, because the events of 9-11 have affected every jurisdiction's economic development efforts. We're moving more slowly than we had planned, but we're moving in the right direction. I look for some significant progress during the coming year, particularly in the area of commercial development.
Too much of our current revenue is dependent on one-time building permits and fees. This is shortsighted and explains our present budget difficulties and guarantees economic hardship in the future. More of Oro Valley's disposable income would be spent in our town if we encouraged unique and distinctive retail establishments. Planning for our short and long-term needs with an eye towards a steady stream of revenue is the only way to ensure a sound financial future. I would encourage technological park development, thereby creating desirable higher paying jobs in Oro Valley.
The town's economic development should concentrate on putting together high tech parks, business that produce above normal salaries, and produce high sales tax revenue. The end result would make higher salaries which would result in low density housing which also would support higher priced quality stores for shoppers. Sometimes I believe we tend to build in lots of low sales tax producing business which require the same maintenance costs from the town as high end business.
7. A large park and community center has been proposed at the 212-acre Naranja Town Site. Should a park of this size be built? If no, explain why and offer alternatives. If yes, explain how the park's construction should be funded and how quickly it should be built in its entirety.
The first step was to purchase the land. The second step is to decide what to build first and does the town have the money to do it. Unfortunately I believe the answer is "not right now." Our citizens are used to quality services. They expect them, they deserve them and the town should do everything to provide them. However, according to Bob Jennens, member of the Budget and Bond Committee, "Oro Valley is facing a softening and a possible leveling off in its revenue growth curve. So patience and fiscal responsibility should be the modus operandi."
The Naranja Town Site should definitely be developed - but in stages, prioritizing need and return on investment. Provision for a concert stage, theater and exhibition hall should head the list, as they will be an early source of revenue. Funding should come from a combination of limited bonding, corporate sponsorship, grants and business and individual donations.
It must be stated that the Naranja Town Site Park and many of the other improvements that we enjoy would not have occurred without the professionalism of our town staff and the willingness of our elected officials to persevere against adversity. Now that the site has been established, the next town council needs to begin development of this public resource. The first phase of development should include the open areas such as sports fields. This development as well as future developments to the park should be funded with grants and other funding sources.
Yes. Grants, private funding and if necessary bond issues. However the park needs to be built in a single phase. It should be built as soon as possible.
Parish The Naranja Town Site should be developed for the maximum potential that it holds to benefit the community. Finances dictate that this project should be completed in stages. Funding alternatives should be explored. I will work to make this project happen using grant funding, private funding, and corporate sponsorships. All Oro Valley residents will benefit as a result of this project. I believe that the development of this site should be a community wide project. The community working as a whole can accomplish more than the town government could ever do alone.
Yes, a park of this magnitude could be a wonderful asset to Oro Valley. The park will have to be funded through public/private partnerships. We should consider developing the facility around a theme, such as a performing arts/community center so that revenue can be generated from appropriate events and sponsorships that are of interest to the region. User fees for activities and facilities would also be appropriate. Reinvesting revenues with targeted funding from other Town sources could potentially stimulate generation of more revenue for continued improvements. This incremental approach should have a goal of about 12 years or sooner.
The land has been purchased and a site plan has been developed. The size of the project has been determined. Corporate and/or individual sponsors' should be secured for the park and the structures and a bond issue could be proposed with payment of the bonds by: (a.) Current revenue, if available; (b.) Imposition of a utility and/or communication sales tax; (c.) Secondary property tax IF PASSED BY THE VOTERS. If none of the options work, there must be a Plan B for a smaller and expandable development.
Yes, Naranja Town Site park definitely should be built. This is a pivotal feature of our town's future. It will add to our quality of life and attractiveness of Oro Valley. How the project is funded will be determined by voters, probably in a bond election.
Due to poor planning and unnecessarily generous incentives, we do not have adequate funds to complete the Naranja Park. However, we can phase it in so that the benefit increases as funds become available through improved future planning, impact fees on new development and potential corporate funding. Parks are wonderful assets to a vibrant community. They provide opportunities for exhibitions, concerts, conferences, and family oriented events. Planning would include a focus on keeping maintenance costs low. I oppose a property tax to pay for its completion.
This park should be finished and may require this to be done over a staging process. I would not vote to move the equipment and all the noise and confusion from Calle Concordia into this area. We should build a community center and performing arts facilities. One of the major financing approaches would be to work with large corporations to build and maintain these centers. Other areas of financing can be reviewed and I would not vote to use property tax on this.
8. What can Oro Valley do to help solve the region's traffic problems? Would you support or advocate a freeway that leads to or through the town?
First, the Oracle Road Corridor Study is being conducted by ADOT in cooperation with PAG (Pima Association of Governments), Pima County, Pinal County, the city of Tucson and the town of Oro Valley. It is evaluating present and future transportation needs of Oracle Road, from Oracle Junction to Miracle Mile. The study should be completed before the end of 2004. I suggest we wait to see the results. Second, John Zukas, Oro Valley Transit Administrator suggests that Sun Tran Bus extend their route to Campus Park Development and the new Hospital. A Freeway through Oro Valley. "No Way."
I DO NOT support a high speed freeway running through our town, as it would encourage by-passing, rather than "stopping to shop", in Oro Valley. A widened Oracle Road will, in essence, function as a "controlled" conduit of north/south traffic. A second east/west corridor, in addition to Tangerine, created by widening either Lambert or Naranja with access to the "I" is needed. Initiating and completing road construction which looks to future requirements, prior to further business and housing developments, is crucial.
When the improvements to Tangerine Road, La Cañada Drive, First Avenue, La Cholla and Oracle Road are completed, there will sufficient transportation infrastructure to support traffic in and around Oro Valley. I believe these improvements and improvements that will naturally be implemented in the future are a more appropriate solution to our traffic problems than is an urban freeway. The town of Oro Valley needs to work with the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Pima Association of Governments, and local governments to ensure that improvements are planned and implemented in a coordinated manner to maximize their effectiveness.
Oro Valley must be a partner in regional transportation problem resolution. However we cannot solve the problems of Tucson and/or Pima County. We have made great strides in the past two years to improve our traffic issues and we will continue to do so if I am elected. A freeway is a huge undertaking with multi-faceted impacts. I would have to see a detailed cost/benefit analysis and a proposed route in order to make an informed decision.
To solve Oro Valley's traffic problems the town must do several things. First, quality shopping and employment must be brought to the town to lessen the miles the we currently must drive. Targeting growth to benefit the entire town is key. Secondly, the town needs to be more involved with the Pima Association of Governments. We must hold enough influence in the region to get our fair share of transportation revenues. Third, We need to work with the state legislature in an effort to gain greater access to Highway User Funds. Fourth, we need to build a freeway leading to the town.
This is a regional issue requiring local and regional commitment to solve. OV will need a multifaceted approach including a refocus on neighborhood friendly office/retail and movement away from the traffic dependent strip commercial development that is currently in favor. We should continue with improvements to major arterials to better disperse traffic flow and consider improving mass transit that targets moving commuters to Tucson. I am not in favor of building a freeway through OV; however, a parkway through the Tangerine corridor may help by improving access to I-10. It should be planned well before any significant development is in place.
Oro Valley must be a significant player in any attempt to solve the region's traffic problems. Right now the best opportunity appears to be through PAG where Mayor Paul Loomis is the current chairman. Rep. Steve Huffman plans to introduce a bill in the legislature to make PAG a regional transportation authority that would be the vehicle to develop the plan and provide the funding through a voter approved sales tax. If a freeway were to be part of the plan, I would suggest consideration.
Oro Valley should cooperate with other entities in our county to come up with the planning and funding for a regional transportation plan under the Pima Association of Governments. I don't support a freeway like I-10 in Oro Valley, but I do support taking a good look at parkways, Tangerine and other major arterials.
Traffic problems are created by growth exceeding the available infrastructure. Unfortunately, the congestion we're suffering today will likely get worse. Previous councils have increased land use densities allowing high-density housing that concentrates more families and cars into our limited space. Equally significant, surrounding towns are doing the same thing. All of this translates into severe congestion, we must begin the planning process for the following: (1) Provide roads that will accommodate present & expected traffic; (2) Improve public transportation. I plan to meet with staff and surrounding communities to examine the needs and impact of past decisions on this critical issue.
The more the town allows crowded high density housing the more traffic we have. An answer is to get industry to come into our area so that people will not commute out to other areas, thus crowding the traveled ways. Public transportation can not be used for the people going across Tucson for work. Long range planning for our future expansion, including the infrastructure work that will meet these demands, must be done immediately. Work with the Pima Association of Governments for future revenues and data.
9. How will you make sure Oro Valley has enough revenue to cover its operating costs each year and build the road, water, parks and other infrastructure needed during the next 10 years without resorting to a primary or secondary property tax? (Be as specific as possible given the allowable-words constraint.)
In these past few weeks I have spoken to Town Manager Chuck Sweet, Finance Director David Andrews, Community Development Director Brent Sinclair, Chief Building Inspector Chuck King, Parks and Recreation Administrator Ainsley Reeder, Transit Director John Zukas, Public Works Town Engineer Bill Jansen, Water Utility Director Alan Forest and Shirley Seng, Water Utility administrator, George Duncan, Magistrate, Jeff Weir, Economic Development Administrator, Danny Sharp, Chief of Police, John Fink, Golder Ranch Fire Chief, Rural Metro Fire Chief George Good.
With Mayor Loomis' permission, I will invite them to an all day retreat and get the answer.
Revenue Creation: ¤ Obtaining Federal/State grants, matching funds, awards (ie: COPS U.S. Department of Justice hiring grant, Growing Smarter Planning Grants, Arizona Department of Commerce grants); ¤ Annexation of proven commercial areas (ie: Foothills Mall); ¤ Increasing tourism (ie: winter music festival); ¤ Attraction of service, medical equipment, components (ie: optics industry) providers; ¤ Increasing construction, service provider fees (ie: waste dumping, personal services); ¤ Increase sales taxes ? - ? %
Cost Reduction: ¤ Paring budgets; ¤ Prioritizing expenditures. Headcount/organization review; ¤ Curtailing (most) hiring other than safety personnel; ¤ Reviewing town service charges (ie: building inspection, connection fees).
Although our current financial condition is stable, it is not solid and definitely not sustainable based on current revenues and expenditures. Fortunately, we have adequate revenue-producing land uses that will allow us to achieve 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 effect on quality of life. Based on my experience as a long-term member of the Town of Oro Valley Budget and Bond Committee, I believe a property tax is unnecessary if we actively pursue other revenue sources.
The answer is simple to state but much more difficult to bring to fruition. Over the years Oro Valley has primarily offset its costs through building permits and the income related to residential growth. That income source is dwindling annually. In addition, the financial woes of the state and county are having a detrimental impact on us. Unbridled residential growth is a fast track to financial instability. We must broaden our base of revenue generation. We need non-residential growth that will produce needed income for our town. The alternatives are a reduction in services or additional taxes.
I believe that Oro Valley has great financial potential. This is the direct result of the people that live here. We must develop more quality business shopping that won't require a drive to Tucson or Marana. Oro Valley residents should be able to shop locally and reap the rewards of the sales taxes that we generate. Having and maintaining quality infrastructure is essential to this mission. Some annexation will also be essential to enhancing our quality of life. As a fiscal conservative, I believe that a property tax would represent a failure by the town government to develop our resources.
Oro Valley will have to be as creative as possible to fund services. Water rates will have to reflect the rising cost of providing water in a desert. The OV council and citizens will need to set priorities and employ cost reduction/containment as necessary. Previous councils made a decision to provide a full service community. The extent that we can provide for this will be determined by the role that we set as a Town government the leads actions for the next 20 years. It is obvious that growth in sales taxes as development - related revenues decline will be necessary.
RochmanThe 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 challenge.
The addition of new retail sales tax bases during the next five years, plus the annexation of some existing retail areas, should greatly increase our sales tax revenues. Those steps will go a long way toward providing the money needed to fund future operating and capital costs.
I would stop giving away the town's share of the sales tax revenue. The economic incentives have gone too far, our council has simply given away too much. The town should NEVER authorize incentives before knowing what business will actually be located there. Oro Valley should encourage businesses that set us apart from other communities. Specifically, we need retail that encourages our residents to shop here and attract others. We need revenue-generating development, not corporate giveaways. Additionally, we must carefully consider the long-term consequences of bonding so we don't overburden our long-term debt.
As I have stated before, I will not vote for a property tax. There are many other ways to raise monies. Increase the impact fees, even if these in the long run will start to slow down, construction sales tax fees for new houses and for renovation projects, maybe real estate tax or transfer fee on houses and commercial.
10. Identify one problem/issue in the town not already covered in this questionnaire and provide your solution/ideas for it.
The defeat of the General Plan is probably the town's biggest problem right now. I would implement a new program. The course would be 8 weeks as follows: (1) General Plan - why it failed. (2) General and comprehensive plans. (3) Sustainable Development (4) General Plan dlements and issues (5) Growing Smarter (6) Organization and framework (7) General Plan implementation (8) How to present your concerns and desires at Planning and Zoning, Development Review and the Town Council using the General Plan as a support vehicle. This course may prevent another General Plan failure.
Lack of trust and confidence in the present council, and concomitant unresponsiveness to citizen concerns, is a major issue. Council must scrupulously enforce our zoning, building, and signage codes. We must keep citizens informed and educated regarding issues and contemplated actions, providing opportunity for two way discussions (such as town hall meetings) and regularly published newsletters. Council persons should explain their reasons for a "yea/nay" vote at the time of voting, and publicly swear to uphold an ethics/code of conduct pledge.
One of the most important issues in the Southwest is water, and this is no less important for the Town of Oro Valley. Water has been and must remain a high priority for the town council. Fortunately, we have made considerable progress in the past few years identifying and acquiring a renewable source of water for use on golf courses and other large turf areas. The accomplishment of our goal to reach and maintain a safe yield of water is an example of what can be achieved when we all work together. Our families and our community deserve nothing less.
The town is often criticized for failing to communicate to or listen to the citizenry. To enhance the effectiveness of communication between the town and the citizens, I believe we should work with the cable providers in the town to televise both the regular town council meetings and a quarterly town Hall where citizens can discuss matters of importance to them with their elected officials. Education and understanding are the keys that open the door to effective communications. Oro Valley should be driven by a majority of the citizens. A forum like this will go far in achieving that goal.
Water is an issue that the town needs to continue to address. The town spent a significant amount of money to settle the Northwest Water Agreement. We need to get the City of Tucson to make good on that agreement. The town is entitled to purchase blended C.A.P. water at wholesale prices. This is a resource we are not using that we should be. This water could be utilized as a partial solution for turf irrigation or countless other uses. We cannot remain complacent while we continue to deplete the aquifer that currently acts as our only supply of water.
Thirty percent of town residents are over 60 years old and the number of senior residents is growing. We need to plan now for providing the services that will continue to allow senior residents to enjoy living in Oro Valley.
Understanding council decisions: Council decisions are sometimes misunderstood. Council members are no different from voters in that we all want what is best for "our community of excellence". However, the path taken to reach 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.
Acquiring open space, particularly east of Oracle is a high priority for me. We must preserve the vistas and beauty of Oro Valley that attracted most of us to make it our home. If our voters agree with that priority, one way to finance the purchase of that open space might be to add a small percentage to our sales tax and earmark it for that purpose. That would shift some of the burden to non-Oro Valley residents who shop in our store, and once the land has been acquired, we could repeal the increase.
There are so many, for instance: (1) Citizen voice! Time after time I've listened to citizens plead with council not to approve development inconsistent with our vision. Time after time, they've been ignored! When I am elected, the citizens will have representation. (2) Oro Valley needs to lead, not avoid, tough issues such as overcrowded schools, fire, police, and inappropriate development. I promise these issues will be aggressively pursued. (3) Prudent spending: Our tax dollars are in short supply. We simply cannot afford to waste them on litigation and General Plans the public rejects!
Future water needs when all the growth keeps coming on line. We would need to use the CAP water and bring it over in another pipe line, plus some sort of treatment plant. The main problem in adding the CAP water is who pays for this. Not like the water for use on grass areas, etc. The home owners are footing a great deal of this. I believe these costs should be passed on to the builders coming in to our town. Both CAP and reclaimed water benefit builders. Without these water sources, new development will soon end.