Oro Valley’s primary election date is quickly approaching on August 26, 2014. In addition to voters being asked to select mayor and town council candidates, also on the ballot will be an extension of the town’s local alternative expenditure limitation, otherwise known as the “home rule” option, listed on the ballot as Proposition 414. It is important for Oro Valley residents to understand what home rule is and the consequences of either a “Yes” vote or a “No” vote on this issue.
In 1980, the Arizona Constitution adopted a formula-based spending limit for all cities and towns in Arizona. Under this State-imposed limit, local spending levels have been based upon 1979 amounts with slight adjustments made each year based on population and inflation growth. The Arizona Constitution does, however, allow a city or town to request voter approval to adopt their own budget limits as the “local alternative expenditure limitation”, or “home rule” option rather than being restricted by the State-imposed limitation. If approved, the home rule option remains in effect for the next four fiscal years beginning in FY 2015/16.
A “Yes” vote continues to allow the town to determine its own spending limits at the local level during the town’s budget planning and approval process which ensures that the budget is based on our local needs, service levels and available resources. Oro Valley voters have supported the home rule option every four years since 1982.
A “No” vote reduces the town’s projected budget for FY 2015/16 of $112.8 million down to the State-imposed estimated amount of $42.4 million, a 60 percent budget reduction. This translates into a severe reduction in Town services, including police, parks and recreation, streets and roads maintenance, transit services, development services, and water utility services.
Home rule deals only with budget expenditure levels. It does not increase or decrease tax rates or set tax rates, and it does not limit the revenues already collected by the town. The town would continue to collect the projected $112.8 million in revenues for FY 2015/16, but would not be permitted to spend these revenues in the delivery of services to our residents.
(Editor’s Note: Stacey Lemos is the finance director for the Town of Oro Valley.)