If Oro Valley’s June 6 council meeting is a sign of things to come, the Town has a lot to look forward to with its newly reorganized council.
Not only were newly seated councilmembers Mike Zinkin and Brendan Burns warmly welcomed by the Town and veteran councilmembers, the council meshed well with one another and provided thoughtful, respectful examination of the issues at hand.
The June 6 meeting kicked off with Zinkin and incumbent Bill Garner being sworn in to their council seats. Burns was unable to attend the meeting in person, but was administered the oath of office prior to the meeting so he could participate via telephone. Burns will be publically sworn in at the next council meeting on June 20.
Burns and Zinkin are now serving in their first term, while Garner is in his second. The three were elected in the March Primary Election.
Some of the hot topics of late found their way in the call to the audience portion for the council meeting, with four residents voicing opposition to a management study of the Oro Valley Police Department.
Zinkin was the aim of some of the commentary, as he recently published a column in favor of a study. The column was published in the May 23 edition of The Explorer.
Sun City Oro Valley resident Del Balston, a member of the area’s neighborhood watch program, was the first to speak against a management study.
“We feel safe,” he said. “Do you know what it is to feel safe when you’re in your 70s, 80s, and 90s? It is the most important thing to you in the world. Our people can walk at night. I can’t see why anyone would want to do this (management study) unless they are looking to cut the police force budget.”
Debra Arrett, former board president of Sun City Vistoso, said Sun City’s recent name change to Sun City Oro Valley had much to do with positive reputation associated with the Oro Valley name.
“We cannot overlook how the professionalism of our police department and our very low crime rate play a key role in the Town’s positive image,” she said.
Zinkin’s letter argued that a case study is not anti-police, but rather the fiscally responsible thing to do.
“Oro Valley has already conducted similar studies of their Legal, IT, and Planning and Zoning Departments,” Zinkin said in the letter. “Why not study the one department that costs us over 46 percent of our General Fund?”
Zinkin also headlined talks on the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO), pulling the quarterly report from the consent agenda for further discussion.
“What I’d like to see in future reports is something that tells me how Oro Valley has a potential benefit from this (TREO),” he said.
Councilman Joe Hornat pointed out the fact that non-Oro Valley businesses can have a big impact on Oro Valley residents.
“We have 3,000 families in Oro Valley that commute back and forth to Raytheon,” he said. “That is a tremendous impact. It’s a lot bigger than something that just mentions Oro Valley.”
Zinkin acknowledged his agreement with Hornat, but said he would like to see the financial impact to the Town listed in future packets.
The Town has yet to vote on the 2012-2013 fiscal year Financial Participation Agreement with TREO, but staff will be requesting $41,011 in funding from the Town.
Hornat and Vice Mayor Lou Waters found themselves under fire by Oro Valley resident Ralph Kayser, who questioned their participation at a recent TREO event in San Diego.
“What did we get out of this junket to Torrey Pines?” Kayser asked. “$300-500 dollars per night, the event lasted two and a half days, and I can’t find anything in public record that speaks to what were the results, what our Town Council gets out of it, and who is paying for it.”
Hornat said the details of the trip would be disclosed in the June 20 council meeting.
In other business, after some deliberation, council voted 7-0 to approve a planned area development exemption in Rooney Ranch Area D.
The exemption will permit businesses in the area to utilize the Oro Valley zoning code revised sign standards to develop a revised master sign program.