It is easy to feel the budget is going well and under control in the Town if you listen to the Town’s talking points, however with further digging you can see that the growth of government, taxes, and the budget have been steadily increasing in a manner out of line with other areas of the private and public sector.
In the 8 years that the incumbents have been in office, the budget has increased at 5 times the rate of inflation, despite the population of Oro Valley only growing by around 8%.
This is accomplished through tax increases. The sales tax has been raised 25%, the utility tax has doubled, and the incumbents attempted to bring a property tax to Oro Valley but it was voted down by the voters. Water costs also recently increased.
The 18-19 budget just recently voted on by the Town Council includes a $14 million bond, $4M for golf, $2M for the community center, $2M for a police evidence facility, and $6M for water infrastructure and new wells.
The Town plans to use impact fees from future development to pay this off. Note that this would put the Town in a position where they need future development, even though Oro Valley is 85% built out. They also plan to use the $800k per year in sales tax they are going to get from the market place next year. When the marketplace was built, the Town agreed to give them 40% of the sales tax as a rebate for a certain portion of time, and that time is ending so the Town will receive $800k per year. I’m sure we could all think of great uses of another $800K per year, but in this budget it will be going towards bond repayment. Note that this means even more of your sales tax dollars will be going to support the golf courses.
The mayor and council are claiming a $1.3M budget surplus. I don’t know about you, but I don’t put $1,400 on a credit card, then look at my bank account and see I have $130 left over and say, “Yay! I have a 130 dollar surplus!” That is the equivalent of what is going on here.
The mayor and council also talk about the budgeting award they have received. This award is primarily for the presentation of the budget, and has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility or keeping the budget manageable for residents.
It is time for some fiscal discipline on the council to keep the budget from growing out of control. With proper management, we should be able to be safe, have good roads, and great parks and recreation for our citizens, while keeping the tax burden manageable and the budget under control.