Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath talked about the need to spend locally, work on the regional level to better Southern Arizona, and keep the town flourishing in tough times during the 10th annual State of the Town address on Oct. 6.

Hiremath spoke to 477 guests, an estimated 100 more than last year’s attendance, for the $50-a-plate luncheon.

Elected officials from Marana, Oro Valley and the Arizona Legislature, as well as officials from Tucson, Pima County and Sahaurita attended.

Dave Perry, president/CEO of the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce, opened the event and introduced two of the community’s newest business leaders.

The Oro Valley Hospital has a new CEO, Jae Dale, and Ventana Medical Systems Inc. has turned the reins over to Mara Aspinall.

Following introductions, Mayor Hiremath took the stage.

Hiremath addressed the need to step outside the box to help local businesses in tough economic times.

“Contrary to some beliefs, the challenges that lie ahead cannot be addressed simply by getting government out of the way,” he said. “It will take an active government to reverse the tide of economic and physical insecurity we face.”

Oro Valley started the “Shop Oro Valley” program in 2008, and drawing on that, Interim Town Manager Greg Caton has created the OV Dollars program.

OV Dollars will allow residents to purchase and receive gift cards that can be used at businesses throughout the community.

He encouraged business owners and residents to give employees and friends the Oro Valley gift card. The program is slated to begin this fall.

In regard to partnerships, Hiremath said Oro Valley is not just about taking care of the area designated inside the lines of a map. The first-term mayor stressed the need to work with neighboring communities, such as Marana, the City of Tucson, Sahaurita, Vail and Pima County, to improve the region as a whole.

While the incorporated towns of Marana, Oro Valley and Sahaurita combined are home to more than 100,000 people, Hiremath said the three communities are missing out on nearly $60 million a year in state-shared revenues because of the population of more than 380,000 people living in the unincorporated areas of Pima County.

“Today I call on leaders in our community, leaders in Tucson, Marana, Sahuarita, Vail, Casas Adobes and Catalina Foothills, to come together to address this problem,” said Hiremath. “A concerted effort to promote annexation and incorporation is the only way to ensure that locally generated tax revenues stay in our community.”

In Oro Valley, Hiremath said they are looking at proposing an extension of planning boundaries south of Orange Grove Road, and west to Thornydale.

“Annexation will provide numerous benefits to commercial and residential property owners, such as police protection, inclusion in the town’s economic development efforts, and streamlined services for new development and future expansion or renovation,” said Hiremath. “Annexation also ensures that locally generated tax revenue benefits area residents, and allows the town to plan for the efficient provision of services to the community. Annexation is one way that Oro Valley works for our region.”

Hiremath said it is also important to maintain a good relationship with the Pima County Association of Governments, and the Regional Transportation Authority.

On a local level, Hiremath thanked the town’s employees for their good work. He also applauded community volunteer programs.

Volunteers at the Oro Valley Public Library worked more than 14,000 hours last year. The 80 members of the Citizens Volunteer Assistance Program provided 17,000 hours of service to the Oro Valley Police Department.

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