With five new town Council members, fresh priorities are focusing on being a “business friendly” community, Jerene Watson, Town Manager of Oro Valley, told the Tucson Association of Realtors Summit last week.
Two economic development summits resulted in the town’s ability to knock off a year in the development and permitting process. “We are open for business and are continuously reaching out” to entice business to the community.
Ventana Roche is bringing 500 new jobs to OroValley and the town is courting new corporations in the bioscience, high tech and educational areas, Watson said.
The University of Arizona Bio 5 Oro Valley opened and is a research arm, developing potential new medicines. Basis Charter School Oro Valleyhas students and took only five months with the new approved development plans. Additionally Pima College Oro Valley campus is operational.
Private/public partnerships are being explored for potential leases of town owned property which will benefit the residents. Focus is on arts, recreation, and culture. The Town Center development will offer incentives for potential entertainment or businesses and county bike and pedestrian trails provide recreational facilities for residents.
Like the other town managers at the summit, Watson said general fund revenues are down 20%. Oro Valley does not have a property tax, but relies upon the sales tax. Single family residential building permits decreased to 50 is fiscal year 2010 compared to 285 in 2008. This represents a 50% drop in construction sales tax. The construction sales tax was 40% of the budget and is now at 19%. Belt tightening is the order of the day.
Unlike federal and state governments, towns cannot resort to gimmicks and tricks and need to come in with a balanced budget. The town has courted new business to bring in local sales tax revenues. Financial dash boards are on the website, she said.
The town is also looking at strategic annexation, and in particular 14 acres to the north bordering state land.
“We are positioning Oro Valley as a desired place to live and raise a family” she concluded.
Town of Oro Valley: