The Oro Valley Town Council approved a plan to pull more than $310,000 from its general fund reserve to pay for building restoration work at town-owned Steam Pump Ranch.

The move would fund work on two buildings at the historic property, which the town purchased in 2007.

The unanimous vote on Wednesday, July 7, would restore funding taken out of the Steam Pump Ranch fund in June as part of the final approval of the fiscal 2010-'11 budget. Money taken from the Steam Pump Ranch fund was used to supplement losses in state support for the town's needs-based transit system, Coyote Run.

The town intends to award a $410,000 contract to Chandler-based Gonzalez and Associates, LLC, to complete the work. The remainder of the funding for the work would come from Pima County bonds.


Helping hands

The council also unanimously approved an item designed to provide relief to local, struggling businesses.

The idea is to allow businesses to display temporary banners and signage on their properties for an extended period of time — up to 180 days — with permits issued by the town.

"Signage is what brings in the vast majority of business," said Councilman Steve Solomon. "We have a very restrictive sign code."

Councilman Joe Hornat, although supportive of the change, questioned terminology in the proposal.

"What does 'under substantiated duress' mean?" Hornat asked. "Do they have to open their books and show us they're not making any money?"

A resident who spoke about the issue, Bill Adler, suggested the town not set an arbitrary time limit on the duration of time the temporary signs can be displayed.

"We're either in the business of showing compassion for these people or we're not," Adler said.

Oro Valley resident Zev Cywan also spoke in support of the temporary change to sign codes. He also said that Councilman Solomon should consider recusing himself from the discussion and vote because of his prior involvement in the issue as a builder and developer.

Solomon deferred the question to Town Attorney Tobin Rosen, who said state law only necessitates an elected official recuse himself if "proprietary or pecuniary interest" presents a clear conflict. That was not the case in this instance, Rosen said.


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