In a 5-2 vote on May 18, the Oro Valley Town Council approved its $94.2 million tentative budget, setting the schedule to approve the final product by June 15.
Voting against the budget were councilmen Barry Gillaspie and William Garner. The two have consistently voted against portions of the 2011-2012 budget plan, including the approved doubling of the utility tax from 2 percent to 4.
The tax increase is expected to generate $1.3 million in added revenues, with proponents saying it is required to balance the new budget, which goes into effect July 1.
Council members voting in favor of the tentative financial plan said it is a “stopgap” budget, with a lot of work needing to be done in the coming year.
In voting against the plan, Gillaspie expressed concern with the lack of confidence the taxpayers currently have in the council.
“We have been confronted with a significant decrease in revenues,” he said. “We need to look forward, not backward. The housing market is not going to improve any time soon. We have to gain support of taxpayers. We don’t have it when we are raising taxes now and telling them to trust us later.”
Garner expressed his concerns through a 32-point PowerPoint presentation where he outlined questionable portions of the budget.
While not disputing some of the numbers, Garner said he doesn’t understand why more cuts weren’t considered, and why the council didn’t received breakdowns on what exactly the funds would be spent on.
Garner asked why the town council needs $8,000 for miscellaneous expenses, and why the town manager is getting $5,000 for miscellaneous, $2,400 for public information and $6,000 for special events. Not knowing what each line item is, Garner said it is tough to correctly assess the budget and make cuts where needed.
Under personnel, Garner pointed out there are two separate line items for recruitment: one for $13,000 and one for $12,000. He asked if $25,000 was really needed, or if it was an oversight.
Mayor Satish Hiremath was critical of the presentation, telling Garner he had months to get his questions answered; he also questioned why Garner chose such a public setting to present the information.
Hiremath said numbers can always be “skewed” to fit a person’s agenda.
“The bottom line is this is nothing but a stopgap budget,” he said. “It is our intent to put this budget to bed and see what we can do in the future.”
The council promised that they would be spending the next year working on creating a more structurally sound budget in coming years.
By approving the tentative budget, the council cannot exceed the spending limit set, but can still make cuts to the document.
The final budget is expected to be approved on June 15.