If early results are any indication, voters in Oro Valley have once again turned down a bond package for development at the Naranja Park site.
As of 10:19 p.m. the tally for the vote sits at 11,565 against, 4,504 for.
The bond question, Proposition 454, included roughly $17 million worth of amenities at the park, paid for by a secondary property tax. Had the bond been approved, it would initiate the first property tax in the town’s history.
The Oro Valley Town Council voted unanimously to send the $17 million bond question, Proposition 454, to the Nov. 7 ballot during the May 3 meeting. A then-potential bond plan originated from the Feb. 15 council session, at which a desire for expanded facilities at the park was expressed by dozens of youth athletes, their parents and coaches.
The Pima County Election Department began releasing election results for the town at 8:04 p.m. In Oro Valley, the "no" vote totals just over 10,200, while the "yes" vote sits at roughly 4,000.
“I’m not totally surprised by the spread," said Axe the Tax Chair Jim Horn. "What I sensed when I talked to people, whether it was at Sun City or even when I was riding my bike around the neighborhood, I sensed that there was opposition to 454. I didn’t realize it would be that significant, but I think it’s all due to the people that were in our small group that worked their butts off to get this done. They’ve done a phenomenal job.”
Axe the Tax is a Political Action Committee formed in opposition to Proposition 454, and Horn called the victory "a true David and Goliath story."
"It’s phenomenal, but I think we had a really good story to tell, and I think that the voters were listening," he said. "I think that the underlying issue is really the fiscal irresponsibility that the voters have felt for the past six or seven years. I think that it shows in the results here.”
According to Brian Mitchell, chair of the Yes on 454 PAC, the results are "disappointing" and "appalling."
"Oro Valley has decided to not support the kids of Oro Valley," he said. "I understand, we’re big boys. We’ll figure out another way to skin a cat.”
When asked to elaborate on his reaction to the election, Mitchell said that the Axe the Tax PAC ran a "strong, nasty campaign against us, and they won."
"They won, and I teach my kids that whether we win or lose we hold our heads high," Mitchell said. "There is no crying, and we figure out how to win next time."
Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath called the election results "part of the democratic process."
"You have to respect it, you have to honor it and move forward," he said. “The council really had no skin in the game. And while probably all of us would have liked to see the development, the bottom line is that this is exactly why we take things to the voters. This is exactly why there exists the democratic process. Our obligation really ended, as a council, but just putting the bond questions on the ballot.”
Looking forward, Hiremath said the council will continue to develop Naranja Park.
“This council has done very well balancing the budget, trying to create surplus funds, do things for the community, so we will continue to develop Naranja Park," he said. "The only—I guess travesty—out of the whole thing is specifically the baseball diamonds. Because there is no way you can build that piecemeal.”
Editor's Note: Expanded coverage to come in the Nov. 15 edition.