A quick breakdown of Town Council meetings, and what it could mean for you.
Council Report May 19, 2021
It was a light agenda for last night's Council Meeting. The financial report through March was very encouraging as it is projected to have a significant surplus in the General Fund and The Community Center Fund. The major Regular Agenda item was Discussion and Possible Action on the Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment. This was the result of literally hundreds of hours of resident input including a statistically valid survey. However, Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett asked what the Council was specifically being asked to approve and then Mayor Joe Winfield voiced his concern that he felt there was not enough public input on Trails and Multi-Use Paths as well as the Community Center so he did not approve of the motion. Council-member Jones-Ivey stated that she understood that they were not being asked to approve the actual projects or the expenditure, but rather a summary of the resident input and consultant and staff work, over many months to serve as guide posts for future actual decisions on these issues. However, the Council decided not to vote on the motion. They did not ask for more information, but rather just thanked all involved and adjourned the meeting.
Council Report May 5, 2021
Pursuant to the motions unanimously approved by the Council , the Town Owned golf courses received a commitment to fund operations through the .5% sales tax and, in addition, the funding through bonding of capital needs of the courses. The bonds would be in the amount of $20,000,000 and include golf , exterior needs of the Community Center and major improvement at Naranja Park, Steampump Ranch and other high priority Parks and Recreation needs. These will be identified during the current budget process. Today is not the day to talk about the process by which this happened. That will be for another day. After 2 and 1/2 years, the Council has come back to the decision on how to fund the necessary improvements and a full commitment to do so. It has been a difficult time, but we have gotten through it and there is something for all in this decision. The actual motions are shown below.
Motion for Item #1
A motion was made by Mayor Winfield and seconded by Councilmember Bohen to approve Ordinance No. (O)21-05, broadening the use of the revenue resulting from the 0.5% increase to the Transaction Privilege Tax enacted by Ordinance No. (O)14-17 on December 17, 2014.
Motion carried, 6-0.
Motion for Item #2
A motion was made by Mayor Winfield and seconded by Councilmember Jones-Ivey to direct staff to include bond financing for capital projects utilizing the half cent sales tax that exceeds the amount needed to operate the Canada, Conquistador, and Pusch Ridge golf courses, Community Center, and tennis courts per prior Town Council direction in the upcoming budget according to the following criteria:
At least 50% shall be allocated towards Naranja Park.
The remainder shall be allocated towards exterior community center/golf course improvements, Steam Pump Ranch improvements, and allocations toward Amphitheater School District partnership, multi-use paths and/or other high priority needs.
Motion carried, 6-0.
Council Report April 21, 2021
Councilmembers, Solomon and Nicolson were absent, but a quorum was present.
-Westward Look application to be annexed to Oro Valley was approved 4-1 with Councilmember Bohen opposed.
-Potential broadening use of ½ cent tax, currently allocated to Community Center and Municipal Golf Courses, was moved to May 5th Council meeting at the request of Councilmember Solomon, although a public hearing was held at last night’s meeting. It’s unclear, at this time, if public input will be allowed at the May 5th meeting.
-In-person Council meetings to resume in June.
Council Report: April 7th, 2021
Former Vistoso Golf Course: Town Manager, Mary Jacobs, reported that a framework for the purchase and Preservation of this closed golf course has been worked out and negotiations were continuing to bring this matter to a final resolution. After numerous residents spoke during the call to audience, Council Member Solomon responded to some of the criticism, regarding the process, by clarifying that all parties to the potential preservation have been fully engaged and cooperative since October. He also noted
that, at no time was any party excluded from this process nor was the process ever halted.
PSPRS (Public Safety Personnel Retirement System): Detailed discussion was held regarding the Town’s PSPRS current funding level and potential future funding depending upon several scenarios. A representative from PSPRS complemented the Town on its current 61% funding level and answered questions about the fund, its risks and returns. Recommendation for different funding options were presented by a consultant hired by the Town and they recommended a $27 million dollar payment be made through a combination of $10 million dollar cash payment and the Town obtaining a $17 million bond for 20 years. Several concerns were discussed including that this analysis and options were done in isolation and did not consider the other needs of the Town and potentially larger savings by spending available funds on other needs. Additionally, it was pointed out that this large expenditure of $27 million was being proposed without public input or a public hearing. The Town Manager assured the Council that this would be fully vetted, discussed and be part of a public hearing during the upcoming Budget process.
The following motion was made and passes:
(6-0, Councilmember Greene abstains) ~ I MOVE that the Town Council authorize staff to incorporate into the FY21/22 Recommended Budget and bring forward any other required authorizations necessary to execute the recommended option of making a $10 million payment from General Fund reserves and issuing Pension Obligation Bonds at or around $17 million to be deposited into the Town's PSPRS and CORP pension plans, while continuing to pay the current employer rates to PSPRS and CORP for next fiscal year.
Strategic Plan: The Town’s draft Strategic Plan was discussed and questions answered. Staff was directed to make the recommended changes and bring back a revised Plan to the April 21 Council Meeting
$27 Million For The OV PSPRS?...
The Oro Valley Town Council will consider a recommendation by the, Budget and Finance Commission, to spend $10,000,000 of our cash and bond another $17,000,000 (to be paid off over 20 years at approximately $1,200,000 per year), to pay down the "Unfunded Liability" in our Public Safety Pension Plan (PSPRS). Our Town is already around 60% funded and that puts us right in the middle of most other municipalities. There isn't necessarily a problem with the fund; however, the effective interest rate on our unfunded amount is 7.5% so the argument could be made that it can be bonded at about 3%, so it would effectively save the difference of 4.5%. The Town would still have to pay the "annual premium" every year and if history teaches us anything, it's that the "Unfunded Liability" will certainly continue to grow.
The question we residents should be asking is, whether this use of cash and bonding capacity should be the highest priority, especially when considering all of the other needs of the Town.
Hopefully this important discussion will take place before a decision is made. The cost of construction is going up considerably each year so putting off those other needs may increase the costs more than the savings that would result in this payment to PSPRS. This is our money the Council is considering spending; we need to pay attention!