The Oro Valley Town Council got back to work last Wednesday night, following a month-long break.

In the two-hour meeting, the council discussed a financial update for the 2010-2011 fiscal year that showed an un-audited deficit of $951,975.

While the item was originally posted in the consent agenda, Councilman Will Garner pulled it off for more discussion.

Finance Director Stacey Lemos said revenues came in under budget by $1.7 million due to slow construction activity and lagging construction sales taxes.

Lemos told the council that the costs included energy efficiency upgrades to Town Hall, spending $20,000 on a pool feasibility study, and spending $70,000 that wasn’t budgeted in parks and recreation.

Lemos said a meter was replaced at a local park, and once the new meter started taking correct water usage readings, the cost went up.

After reviewing the information, Garner commended department heads who stayed under budget in the last fiscal year.

“A lot of departments did sacrifice, and I want to commend them because it helped with the bottom line,” Garner said.

Councilman Steve Solomon commended all department heads, even those who went over budget, for good work last year.

In another item pulled from the consent agenda, Garner expressed concern over a proposed intergovernmental agreement between the town and the Drug Enforcement Administration. It allowes three officers to participate in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Arizona Pima County/Tucson Metro Counter Narcotics Alliance Task Force. The HIDTA would pay the three officers’ salaries.

Garner said given these tough times, and with the Oro Valley Police Department staff reportedly down by three officers, the “town just doesn’t have the luxury anymore to provide these officers to other agencies.”

Police Chief Daniel Sharp noted Oro Valley currently has 97 officers, with seven of them serving on regional task forces.

Solomon disagreed, stating the officers gain valuable training in regional law-enforcement efforts.

The agreement was approved in a 6-1 vote, with Garner voting no.

In other business, the council approved two sign issues in the town.

The council unanimously approved an amendment to the Steam Pump Village master sign program.

Quik Trip is in the process of building a new gas station on Oracle Road. It asked the council to approve signage that is larger than current codes and regulations allow by five square feet.

The company can now build a sign that will allow an area of 55 square feet, instead of the required 50.

The council also unanimously approved an amendment to the sign codes for the shops at the Oro Vista Plaza.

David Williams, Oro Valley’s planning division manager, said the current sign code allows two different colors for the center’s wall signs. The sign proposed by Nobel Hops Gastropub on Lambert Lane, requested permission to add two other colors to its wall sign.

The council also unanimously approved liquor licenses for Quik Trip on Oracle Road, Giant on Oracle Road and Amarsi Ristorante on Rancho Vistoso Boulevard.

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