Oro Valley budget talks have begun, and the town plans to continue investing in sports tourism and in its workforce.
The $117 million proposed budget includes nearly $34 million in reserves, approximately $30 million for personnel, approximately $26 million for operations, $21 million in capital projects and $6 million for debt payments.
Here are five things you need to know.
1. Town leaders expect a tourism recovery.
The budget assumes a 15 percent increase in bed tax revenue, partly because renovations at The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort are nearly complete.
The budget assumes a relatively flat 2 percent rise in sales tax revenue and 4 percent increase in state-shared revenues.
The town plans to contribute about 16 percent more to Visit Tucson, the regional tourism bureau, as part of a multiyear plan, and it would invest in museums if the proposed budget is approved. Mayor Satish Hiremath said the idea is to “create Oro Valley as a destination for sports tourism.”
Tournaments and races bring in tax revenue when visitors attend events and eat, shop and stay in Oro Valley. One in three sales-tax dollars comes from a visitor, the mayor said.
2. The town will continue subsidizing its golf courses and aquatic center.
The planned subsidy for golf is $1.5 million, approximately 70 percent of the golf budget.
The town bought the golf courses in a controversial move last year, which made the mayor and three council members the subjects of a failed recall election.
The golf operation now has about 263 members, projected to increase to 318 by June 2017. It should be easier to grow the game in Oro Valley now that the recall election and uncertainty about the operation are behind the town, said Rob DeMore, vice president of operations for Troon, which contracted with the town to run the golf business.
The proposed budget includes $75,000 for irrigation pump stations for the golf course and $50,000 for golf cart path improvements, among other projects.
At the aquatic center, the planned subsidy is $565,000, approximately 50 percent of the center’s budget. The spending plan calls for $148,000 to replace pool heaters.
3. More than 400 employees will get pay raises.
The budget includes a $445,000 increase in personnel costs to give 119 public safety employees a step increase and to give 292 other employees merit-based pay raises of up to 4 percent.
Town employees got pay raises in the previous fiscal year, but some were pay adjustments following a 2013 salary survey that found some workers were underpaid.
4. But they’ll pay more for health benefits.
Some of that pay raise will be eaten by higher health-care contributions when the town asks employees to pay more to cover the rising cost of health insurance.
5. The top job is vacant.
The Town Council approved a process to look internally for an interim town manager before looking elsewhere.
The Town Council will continue its budget talks at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 27 and plans public hearings on the budget at 6 p.m. May 19 and June 1, all at Town Hall, 11000 N La Cañada Drive.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346. On Twitter: @BeckyPallack