As our government, nationally, at the state level and locally begin debating and presenting budgets for the 2014/2015 fiscal year, it’s clear Tucson residents have a reason to be angry, while Oro Valley can continue to be happy with the direction their town is headed.
Just to balance the budget, the City of Tucson is looking at how to cut more than $25 million from the upcoming year’s plan. Town officials continue to point towards economic restraints as the cause. Whatever the reason, yet again, Tucson’s public safety is among many programs to face cuts this year.
The Tucson Police Department is looking at a $6.6 million reduction. To put the situation into perspective, Tucson Police are already short handed and do not answer many calls. Our neighbor’s car window was smashed and broken into, the city sent him a letter in the mail. We were rear ended on a bridge by a teenager driving 53 miles per hour while we were stopped, no officers showed up. The fact that there was no police report ended up being a factor as we argued with the driver’s insurance provider.
Now, we city residents wonder how much worse are services going to get with even more cuts and continued poor planning.
As for Oro Valley, town manager Greg Caton has every right to be pleased with the budget he and his finance department recently presented to council. Why? Because his budget had $13 million more than last year, and calls for plenty of community improvement projects that won’t have to be funded through any increases in taxes, utilities or otherwise.
Why isn’t Oro Valley facing such economic restraints as a sign of the times that Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothscild points to? The answer is simple, Caton planned ahead, managed the budget and did what’s best for residents and the community he manages.
Hard decisions were made four years ago. At that time, residents were upset, but now, they are seeing the benefits and have plenty to point toward as good fiscal management in Oro Valley.
One of those tough decisions was to cut staff and make the current employees become more productive.
Obviously, the decision has paid off. Some of those positions remain unfilled, only one new position is planned in the coming year, and the town is going to have the ability to create a merit system resulting in pay raises for town staff. While the fee to implement the new pay program for staff seems high, is definitely in the budget and its definitely a step in the right direction to allow Oro Valley to keep a quality staff that picks up the slack and allows the town to continue saving money through leaving old positions vacant.
Caton is also innovative in his thinking. As healthcare costs continue to increase for employers, he is proactive in planning for the future. A healthcare clinic will be established, allowing staff members and their families to take advantage of onsite services to prevent, treat and assist with medical services. This means fewer claims will be filed with the town’s insurance provider. It’s definitely a good way to save money.
In the coming year, Oro Valley is continuing in its efforts to not just being a retirement destination, but also a prime location for young families looking to relocate.
Oro Valley is considering investing in a children’s museum in the 2014/2015 fiscal year, and they continue to look at family-friendly projects at local parks and facilities and they have the funding to make it happen.
In the end, you can only say good for Oro Valley.