The timing of Oro Valley’s potential budget adoption for fiscal year 2012-2013 is causing a stir among members of the Oro Valley Town Council. Current members look to pass the budget soon, while newly-elected council members want to wait.
With the recent elections, Mike Zinkin, Brendan Burns, and incumbent Bill Garner will be sworn in on June 6. The tentative budget is slated to be approved on May 16.
In the past, newly elected councilmembers have been given the opportunity to vote on the budget as one of their first calls to duty.
“It’s unprecedented,” said Zinkin. “It’s never happened before. My understanding is there are certain people who want to pass it now, who argued against doing so in the past until the new members had taken their seats.”
In the 2010 election, Councilwoman Mary Snider was an advocate of delaying the budget adoption until newly-elected council members had been seated. Snider said this time around, the scenario is different.
“At that time in 2010, we only had six sitting councilmembers, plus we were going to be electing a new mayor and had four new councilmembers coming in,” she said. “We currently have a full-sitting council.”
Interim Town Manager Greg Caton said while he is prepared to present the recommended budget on April 4, the timing of final approval rests with council.
“When we mapped out the budget schedule, it was proposed to have adoption in May regardless of the election,” he said. “Professionally, though, I believe it’s challenging to ask incoming members of the council to be adopting a budget that is close to $100 million. It takes time to learn the role.”
Zinkin, who previously ran for mayor against current Mayor Satish Hiremath in 2010, said during those elections, all council candidates were given the opportunity to offer input before being elected.
“That way, if you were brought on board, you had a running start,” said Zinkin. “Right now, the way it’s looking, it doesn’t seem like we will be able to provide any input, as it will be completed before we take our seats.”
While the reelected Garner will have the chance to vote on the final budget, he said he thinks the timing is unfair for newcomers Burns and Zinkin.
“I disagree with it wholeheartedly,” he said. “Since I took office in 2008, and in the last election, there have been several members of the current council who have taken their seats and voted on the budget. By state standards, we don’t need another budget to be completely approved until July. I can’t venture to say why there is such a rush to approve it.”
Hiremath said regardless if the budget comes before or after Zinkin and Burns take their seats, there will be plenty of opportunities to solicit input, such as during council budget retreats.
“These aren’t hard, fast numbers,” he said. “During the year, we can all sit down and voice our opinions on what we think is important for Oro Valley, and we have the power to vote to adjust things accordingly.”
On April 4, the current council will weigh in on the Manager’s proposed budget in a council meeting at Town Hall at 6 p.m. Study sessions are scheduled for April 11 and April 25, with the tentative final adoption coming on May 16.