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My first year as your assistant town manager

Photo of Chris Cornelison, assistant town manager with Town Seal

I could hardly believe it when I realized a full year has already gone by since I began my role as Oro Valley’s assistant town manager. Time really flies in our active and engaged town. From special events to issues that matter to our residents, there is always so much going on within our local government and the community at large. I am grateful to serve in this community, and I would like to share with you some thoughts on how much I have enjoyed assisting in leading this organization.

February 28, 2018

Over the past year, we have provided some great community opportunities, such as expanding our free public art tours (we have more than 150 pieces of public art, by the way); hosting Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and opening a free practice and autograph session to the public; holding free, family-friendly events such as drive-in movies at the Community Center and the July Fourth celebration and fireworks show at Naranja Park; and working with the Youth Advisory Council to offer free technology workshops for senior citizens. These are just a few highlights from a very long list, of which I am extremely proud.

We’ve also worked to make our community safer this year by adopting a “hands-free” driving ordinance that has subsequently been adopted by the city of Tucson and other municipalities around the state.  Equally impressive is the fact that the town continues to be in great financial standing, as evidenced by a balanced budget and our twenty-third consecutive award for excellence in financial reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association.

On a related note, and an area of much public interest, the town is currently on pace to finish the budget year with revenues matching expenses for our Community Center, restaurant, golf and tennis operations, which is now in its third year of operation. This success is a result of diligent oversight and a focus on continued improvement and efficiencies, all while meeting the needs of the residents we serve.

As we all know, being a great community and well-run organization isn’t without its challenges. Over the past year, we experienced another active election season, with the Naranja Park Bond Project on the ballot. We heard our voters loud and clear when they voted not to move forward with the bond, and instead, to maintain our pay-as-you-go approach. Another challenge we weathered together was the extensive road construction project at West Lambert Lane and North La Cañada Drive. We know this was a long and inconvenient project, but it finished on time and the result is a safer intersection for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Thank you again for your patience.

Some of our challenges this year resulted in strong partnerships and creative solutions, such as the new Big Wash Trailhead, which provides hikers and mountain bikers access to state land trails without having to use the WAPA line trail between Sun City and the Honey Bee neighborhoods.

I truly enjoy hearing people’s thoughts and opinions about the town’s services and amenities, because it means we have a shared interest in being an outstanding community. Thoughtful discussion opens the door to creative solutions, relationship building and the opportunity to correct misinformation.

Technology, for all its wonders and benefits, also perpetuates the rapid spread of misinformation. We value diverse opinions and understand that not everyone will agree on every issue; however, it is critical that those opinions and disagreements are built on facts. This is the only way we can have a common platform for productive conversations. Unfortunately, misinformation often spreads more quickly than facts, so this past year, the town has worked hard to increase the number of ways that residents can have quick access to correct information.

Last May, we launched “Ask OV,” a more convenient way to ask questions and provide feedback to the town. By simply sending an email to ask@orovalleyaz.gov, constituents will receive a timely and accurate response. In addition, those questions and comments are compiled into a report that is shared with your town Council.

Then last month, the town opened a Nextdoor.com account, where residents will be directly notified of press releases, public meetings and important notifications. (Don’t worry—Nextdoor is set up so that government agencies cannot see your conversations. We can only post information.)

And in the next few weeks, the town will launch the OV Fact Checker, a page on our website that will address the most common questions and  misperceptions about our community. We hope that this page will serve as a resource for residents who want to cut through the rumors and learn the facts.

There are now so many ways for residents to access important information about their local government, including Facebook, Twitter, the Vista Newsletter, Ask OV, email notifications, Nextdoor, OV Fact Checker and, of course, the town’s website at www.orovalleyaz.gov. I personally invite you to engage with us on your platform of choice. There is so much happening!

Did you know that in 2017, Oro Valley was ranked “Safest City in Arizona” by Safe Home, and “Arizona’s Best Small City” by WalletHub? So yes, Oro Valley is an exceptional community. We are doing many things right, and we have become a model community. Although we are not perfect, and we are not always going to agree on everything, we will continue to try. And the more our residents are engaged with us, the greater our collective success.

I have learned a lot over the past year as your assistant town manager, and it has been a pleasure serving such an outstanding community. I have truly enjoyed working with the various homeowner associations, elected officials, businesses, nonprofit groups, our exceptional staff and volunteers, community members, neighbors and friends to help build upon our successes so that we can all live our daily lives in a safe, engaged and well-managed community that provides opportunities and amenities for people of all different ages and interests.

By Chris Cornelison, assistant town manager - Explorer Newspaper, 2/28/18