The Oro Valley Town Council this week denied a $25,000 request by the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council to fund the town’s annual Fourth of July celebration, held in previous years at Cañada del Oro Riverfront Park.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4, the town council turned down the GOVAC request. The arts non-profit has organized the event on behalf of the town for the past 10 years.

Council members K.C. Carter, Bill Garner, Barry Gillaspie and Salette Latas voted against the funding request. Mayor Paul Loomis, Councilwoman Paula Abbott and Councilman Al Kunisch favored continued financial support for the event.

“I really feel like this is GOVAC cutting to the front of the line and circumventing the community funding process,” Latas told the council before casting a vote against the request.

Groups that want town financial support must apply through the town’s community funding process.

Those requests are reviewed and later voted on by the town council to be included in the following year’s budget.

The application process for community funding in fiscal 2010 is currently under way.

GOVAC still could seek and receive funds for the Independence Day event as a part of that process.

Whether the Independence Day event would be possible without town support was not clear, GOVAC executive director Kate Marquez said last week.

GOVAC’s request for $25,000 was in addition to $120,000 the council gave the group for events it put on throughout the current fiscal year.

A portion of GOVAC’s funding last year paid for the 2008 Fourth of July event.

During the community funding discussions last year, the group had requested the town fund the 2009 Fourth of July party in addition to the 2008 event because it falls so close to the start of the fiscal year, which begins July 1.

GOVAC leaders had wanted the town to start funding the Fourth of July a year ahead because of the many months of planning that precede the event.

The council at that time decided to fund the event for 2008, not 2009.

Mayor’s travel

The council also voted on a proposal to increase to Mayor Loomis’s travel budget by $2,500 in the current fiscal year.

The mayor has a $5,000 budget for travel expenses.

He said the increase was needed because, as of December, he had spent $3,670 on travel and anticipated similar travel costs for the remainder of the fiscal year.

“The question is, do you want to participate in regional opportunities and events or not,” Loomis said in reference to the numerous regional and statewide events at which he represents the town.

Instead of increasing the mayor’s budget, the council struck a compromise, with members Abbott and Kunisch offering to pay for the $2,500 increase out of their travel budgets.

Council members Carter, Garner and Latas voted against the increase.

Latas pointed out Loomis’s non-budgeted $11,000 trip to Europe last year, during which he met with representatives of pharmaceutical firms, including Roche, which owns Ventana Medical Systems in Oro Valley.

The town used money from the economic development department’s budget to pay for the trip, Latas said.

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