In regard to Dec. 13 article, “Oro Valley may be in its ‘prime,’ but the current is swift”: In a recent issue, the head of the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce suggested that the “problem” of empty retail storefronts was insufficient population, and that a never-ending influx of new residents was the solution.
Not surprising, given his position. But unchecked growth, the result of a mayor and town council that green-lights every subdivision proposal submitted to them, will eventually and inevitably erode the open spaces and quality of life that drew many of us here. Instead, we will have traffic congestion, air pollution, dwindling water supplies, loss of wildlife and the other negatives that come with unbridled population growth.
Here’s a concept: instead of importing people to fill empty storefronts (“build it and the people will come”), encourage retail developers to do a better job of market forecasting.
Should Oro Valley resize the golf courses? Rightfully so, this was the question posed by the new town manager in a public meeting with nearby residents on Dec. 12. It was certainly refreshing to know that the town recognizes a problem exists, and is looking for public input concerning the huge 45-hole golf operation.
Is operating cost the issue? Has the town realized that losing over $2 million a year is not good governing? Did someone understand that paying to maintain 45 golf holes when there are barely enough golfers to fill 18 holes, not a good idea? Did the council finally realize that they are funding a country club, allowing only a handful of retired golfers to have exclusive use of and 18-hole golf course, including free practice areas and other amenities, by forcing an entire community to pay for this lifestyle? It is wrong to make the thousands of non-golfing residents pay for this? If it is right, then why not subsidizing other country clubs such as Stone Canyon and Oro Valley Country Club?
It is understandable that the country club members want to keep the current subsidy for 36 holes, as any reduction would mean the loss of the exclusive course and amenities.
The Town of Oro Valley can and should support a true municipal golf course that is sized for the demand, open to all ages, with daily fees based on seasonal rates and require only a minimum (if any) subsidy similar to all other municipal courses.
Yes, this meeting was a good step forward, but we must remember the Einstein statement that repeating the same mistake and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
—Margaret and Dick Leonard
On Dec. 12, the town hosted a meeting for the La Cañada and Conquistador golf course neighborhoods to review the National Golf Foundation study and recommendations.
The NGF study proposes a few options: 1) reducing the 36 holes of golf to 27 holes at a cost of $4.6 million, 2) reducing 36 holes to 18 holes at a cost of $4.2 million, or 3) close the courses altogether at a cost of $3 million.
The study also recommended spending $3 million to convert the 9-hole Pusch Ridge course to a 12-hole par three.
These actions are hoped to reduce the $2.5 million per year in golf operating losses to roughly $1million a year five years from now.
How did we get here?
The town council, in December, 2014, voted to buy the El Conquistador properties from HSL for $1M.
The town staff and Troon projected early losses with profitability in the fourth year and losing less than $2 million in total. A half-cent sales tax was passed to fund these losses, provide the capital to fix the courses, and upgrade the circa-1980 racquet club (community center).
Many residents opposed the purchase given the 9 public and private courses within 6 miles of the above-mentioned properties. Still, Mayor Satish Hiremath, council members Lou Waters, Joe Hornat and Mary Snider voted to move ahead and buy the properties.
Since closing in May 2015, losses have averaged $200,000 per month, $5.7 million through the end of fiscal year 16/17, with a $2.3 million budgeted loss for fiscal year 17/18. Losses have exceeded the $2 million yearly sales tax subsidy, so no improvements have been made to fix the courses ($5 million required) and Community Center ($6 million required).
What’s next? Some tough choices for the town in 2018.
Editor’s note: The Town of Oro Valley has funded capital improvements related to both the golf courses and community center.
Doomed to repeat
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. This with the middle class tax cuts, reinforces my belief in history being repeated, at least where tax cuts are concerned.
During the buildup, every time I heard President Reagan’s name and his tax cuts, I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s indeed true about history repeating itself. In the best article even written about the Gipper’s tax cuts was written by budget director David Stockman, “The Education of David Stockman” (The Atlantic Dec. 1981) where he laid bare the real reason for the tax cuts. (But, I mean, Kemp-Roth (original name of the bill) was always a Trojan horse to bring down the top rate).
After the article was published, it caused such a backlash that President Reagan wanted him fired, but clearer heads prevailed. 1982 brought the economy sinking into a deep recession, so what did the Republican’s do? They raised retirement for Social Security from 65 to 67 and early retirement from 62 to 64. And also raised other taxes called regressive taxes.
I bring all this up because even before the tax bill was passed Sen. Rubio in the L.A. Times was quoted saying: “We have to generate growth, while reducing spending. That will mean structural changes in Social Security and Medicare for the future.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in ten years, the national debt is projected to equal 90 percent of GDP in this country. It’s early to project what the real middle class tax cuts will amount to. But I expect history to repeat itself especially for the middle
—Clyde R. Steele