Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath says Oro Valley wants to sustain its rapid growth, but make sure it does so with care and precision.
At the 2013 State of the Town speech, which was staged by the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce Sept. 26 at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort, Hiremath praised the town government’s efforts to stoke industry and open new pathways to success.
More than 600 people listened to the 30-minute speech.
Theming his talk “a picture of healthy growth,” Hiremath reflected on Oro Valley’s achievements over the years. He said the town has focused on sustainable development that makes sense in the long run rather than expansion for expansion’s sake.
“Healthy growth is the development and maturation of a community,” he said, according to a speech transcript. “When we plant a seed, we have a vision of what we hope it will look like. Unless deprived of all nutrients, trees will find a way to grow. Communities are the same way. With or without our intervention, communities will grow. But how a community grows is dependent upon how we tend to its needs.”
Hiremath noted that when the town was incorporated in 1974, it was only 1,200 people living in 2.4 square miles. Now the town has grown to more than 41,000 people living in 36 square miles.
He said it’s important that town leadership focus on a shared vision that filters the way they manage their daily roles. He said the town will update its General Plan, and asked for the community’s help.
“This document is the foundation for success as our community grows and moves forward. It is our road map for the next 10 years,” he said. “And the only way to ensure that this road map accurately reflects our community is to engage our residents, business owners and other stakeholders in the public participation process.”
Hiremath said the town will be soliciting public feedback throughout the process of adapting the plan.
He noted that the Pima Association of Governments called Oro Valley’s Pavement Preservation Program a model for other jurisdictions.
“Adequate funding, coupled with strategic and systematic management, have ensured that our roads will remain among the best in the region,” Hiremath said.
He praised the town’s refusal to cut law enforcement spending during the economic downturn. He also said annexations are targeted to contain a mix of commercial and residential properties that will benefit the community.
Hiremath said the town is getting younger and reinventing itself as a place that’s as fit for families as retirees, saying there are as many town residents under the age of 18 as those older than 65. He said the town has strived to meet the needs of all its residents, adding parks facilities and recreational programs, including the Oro Valley Aquatic Center, which Hiremath said will boost tourism revenue.
“Young people are a tremendous asset to Oro Valley,” he said. “And we will continue seeking new ways to engage and support them in this community.”
He praised the town’s schools and economic development, as well as the effectiveness of the town’s Economic Expansion Zone in Innovation Park, which cuts red tape to make it easier for businesses to enter the area.
Hiremath stressed that it’s important the town continue to invest resources into marketing, saying that a third of its local sales tax comes from non-residents. He unveiled a new campaign dubbed “Play OV/Stay OV,” which encourages visitors to check out its attractions and dining establishments and stay in its resorts and hotels.
The town will continue to invest in Visit Tucson, formerly the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, and expand Oro Valley’s presence on its website, Hiremath said.
He praised the town’s fiscal management, which resulted in a $1.7 million surplus at the end of fiscal year 2013. The budget was $95.4 million.
“Sound fiscal management is more than balancing revenues and expenditures,” Hiremath said. “It also means looking for creative and cost-effective solutions to problems. Oftentimes those solutions have come by way of collaborative partnerships which not only improved services to the community, but also resulted in cost savings.”
Hiremath said Oro Valley’s future is in the hands of its citizens.
“I honestly believe that we have one of the greatest towns in the nation,” he said. “But in order to stay great — to continue our healthy growth — I challenge you to help us make it even better.”