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Why vote no on Prop 454?

No Oro Valley Tax

Why You Should Vote No on Prop 454

Solving Oro Valley's Little League Field Crisis

  Solving Oro Valley’s Little League Field Crisis By Jack Stinnett   


The justification for the Town’s proposed $17 million dollar Naranja Park bond is the need to provide more fields for Oro Valley youth sports. (This will be funded with a secondary property tax that, with interest, will cost Oro Valley homeowners $28 million over 20 years).   The issue here is that the Oro Valley Little League (formerly known as Coronado Little League) has played their games and practices since 2003 at the Coronado Middle School fields which they complain are poorly maintained by Amphitheater School District.  They want their own fields in Naranja Park to be comparable to the CDO Little League fields in James Kriegh Park.   


Let’s look at the baseball fields we have:   


Unlike youth soccer, baseball has long been a part of Tucson and Pima County.  A quick count shows that there are over 30 baseball fields within 8 miles of Naranja Park, many lightly used. The two parks located in Oro Valley are described below.   In 1974 upon Oro Valley's founding, Pima County transferred the ownership and cost of operation of J.D. Kreigh and Riverfront Parks to Oro Valley.  These parks came with baseball fields which have been used and improved by Oro Valley.   J.D. Kriegh Park is the home of the Canyon del Oro Little League. It has two excellent lighted competition fields and three practice fields used for baseball and softball.  The park has restrooms, a snack bar and is well-maintained by Oro Valley Parks and Recreation.   


Riverfront Park is the center for youth softball and has two lighted and well-maintained fields.  Riverfront Park also has two lighted soccer/multi-purpose fields.  This park has playgrounds, picnic areas for families, a nice walking path, and draws softball players from NW Pima County.   


Why don't we have ball fields in Naranja Park?   


The Town's Naranja Park plan included little League fields but did not anticipate that the mayor and council would be dumping over $2 million per year in sales tax revenue plus a $350,000 general fund transfer this year into a losing effort to support three golf courses.   The Town could have built all the fields Oro Valley could possibly want with the half-cent "no sunset" sales tax the council approved in 2015 to subsidize the Community Center and Golf Courses.  The mayor never proposed a town sales tax for Naranja Park, nor budgeted Little League fields for Naranja Park in 2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017.   


Options for supporting Oro Valley youth sports without instituting a property tax   


1) Use the baseball fields at Arthur Pack Park   


Arthur Pack Regional Park (Thornydale at Overton) is a 500+ acre park facility that we already support with our Pima County Property taxes.  The Park has a fine, inexpensive 18-hole public golf course, large open natural areas and two baseball areas. The baseball complex has 2 softball fields, 7 baseball fields and a batting cage.  The 8th baseball field was converted to a soccer field to meet the growing demand for more soccer fields. The park also has rest rooms, picnic ramadas and is maintained by Pima County.  Arthur Pack Park is home to the Thornydale Little League  

 

2) Make better use of Amphi School District baseball fields   


Your Pima County property taxes also support the Amphi School District and their facilities.  In November of 2016, school district voter sapproved a $58 million bond which provides increased funds for the maintenance of Amphi school facilities and fields.   Listed below is a summary of Amphi baseball fields in and around Oro Valley:   Canyon del Oro High School…………2 competition fields -- 3 practice fields 

Ironwood Ridge High School…………2 competition fields -- 2 practice fields 

Wilson Middle School…………………2 competition fields -- 2 practice fields 

Coronado Middle School………………2 competition fields -- 3 practice fields   

Many communities cooperatively share the use and support of school facilities, but not Oro Valley and Amphi.  During my three years on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB), I pressed two Parks and Recreation Directors to craft an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Amphi to gain more access to school fields, but with no success.   The Oro Valley Little League currently uses the Coronado Middle School fields off North Oracle Road, but has requested the Town to build Little league fields in Naranja Park.  I supported their presentation to PRAB in December 2014 and voted for the inclusion of Little League Baseball fields in the plan for Naranja Park.   


This project was deferred in favor of the higher priority golf course purchase.  


However, while Oro Valley Little League patiently waits for better fields, the Town can insist that Amphi better maintain the Coronado Middle School Little League fields.   


3) Continue the "pay as you go" development of Naranja Park  


 I support the Town building Little League baseball fields in Naranja Park, but not through a $17MM bond and $28MM secondary property tax.  The Little League fields can be funded with the Town’s FY 2016/17 budget surplus of $2MM.  Town coffers are overflowing with development fees. The mayor and council just need to support our Little League and give the kids a place to play in Naranja Park.  


 Recommendation  


 I am voting NO on the Naranja Park $17MM Bond and $28MM property tax increase.  Instead of "crisis" planning by our elected leaders, Oro Valley should fund the youth fields from within it's operating budget.  The Town has the resources to build fields in Naranja Park but has chosen to exploit this self-inflicted "field crisis" to put a $28MM property tax on the November ballot.  

About Axe The Tax

Ballot Argument #1

 

Oro Valley was founded in 1974 on the concept that residents would not have property taxes.  Since 2010, due to extravagant spending, that concept is being cast aside.  Proposition 454 is not a decision of being for or against children.  Proposition 454 is a question of fiscal responsibility. Multiple ball fields are already available to provide services to our Citizens.  The Amphitheater Public Schools have ball fields that Citizens could use, if the Town entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement.  Pima County has multiple ball fields for use, all within a reasonable commute.  Additionally, funds have been allocated in the FY 17/18 budget to build two lit multi-use fields.  With a fiscally responsible government, more funds could be made available.


Since 2010, Oro Valley’s population has grown by 4.9%, yet OV Town staff has grown by 12.4% with every employee receiving a 4% raise for the past 8 years.  Not including vehicles utilized for public safety and transit, the Town owns an additional 153 vehicles.  Since the Town purchased the Golf and Community Center, it has lost over $200,000 in its Town-owned restaurant and over $7 million in its Town-owned golf courses.


Since 2010, the Town has instituted a 4% Utility tax and increased your Sales Tax 25%.  Now this government wants you to approve a Property Tax to cover their irresponsibility.  The money is available to fulfill the desires of the Citizens IF it is spent wisely.  You told the Government in June 2014 what you desired at Naranja Park and they ignored your wishes.  Now they want to fulfill your wishes but only with an additional tax.


This is not a question of supporting our youth.  This is an opportunity to say NO to continued fiscal irresponsibility and additional taxes.

Ballot Argument #2

 

There is no apparent end to the financial disasters of this Oro Valley Town Council. The Naranja Park improvements bond issue, to be voted on November 7, 2017, is a prime example. The council requests the citizens to approve a $17 million bond issue with a 20-year property tax increase. This dollar figure does not include the interest to be paid, totaling several million more. Cost for just putting the ballot to citizens: 

$145,000.


The charming appeal of the children, and their parents, must be weighed against yet another financial burden being imposed on the citizens of Oro Valley. It is always difficult to say no to the children, but there are alternatives to meeting the children’s desires other than another tax.


We, the taxpayers, have had a half-cent sales tax imposed in 2015 in order to subsidizethe Community Center fiasco. This amount has failed in every regard to cover the losses; in addition there is no ‘sunset’ for this tax increase. The town council recently hired a research firm, costing $50,000, to analyze the present situation regarding the Community Center. Those who attended the July 12 council meeting learned that every option would cost millions, with no guarantees of success, as proven by the thorough analysis. 


A NO vote in November will, hopefully, put an end to this bond issue, as well as new undefined, unfunded major future projects such as the “Main Streets Plan,” and cause the Town of Oro Valley to operate within its available cash flow without debt. Was there no forethought when the Naranja Park property was purchased? Was a feasibility study done? Apparently not. This issue was brought to ballot before and rejected. We the taxpayers in the town of Oro Valley would be wise to reject it again.

Cost of Special Bond Election


Through the adopted FY 17-18 budget, Council authorized a total of $145,000 to conduct the November 7, 2017 Special Bond Election.  The estimated cost breakdown is as such:


 Pima County Recorder - $78,000

Pima County Elections Division - $50,000

Publicity Pamphlet - $12,000 

The remaining $5,000 of the $145,000 is to cover all other advertising and administrative costs associated with conducting the election. 


On June 21, 2017, Council approved an IGA with the Pima County Recorder since the previous IGA with the Pima County Recorder expired at the end of 2016. 

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