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Oro Valley continues with proactive strategy in 2016

Photo of Town Manager Greg Caton with Oro Valley Town Seal in background

Have you ever heard the old saying, “An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure?” The town of Oro Valley has subscribed to that philosophy for years, and it has resulted in the high-quality community we are today.

January 20, 2016

During the recession (which, arguably, we might still be in), it took extreme discipline to continue with this philosophy. For example, I remember the Town Council discussing how much money to fund pavement preservation for fiscal year 2011-12, and we only had about $700,000-$800,000 to fund the work; however, a study indicated that we needed to fund approximately $1-1.3 million each year in order to prevent significant pavement degradation in our community. The study showed that if the $1 million wasn’t funded, then we would dig ourselves into a $64 million hole after only five years.

Well, here we are five years later, and because of the town’s leadership and discipline, we are not facing a $64 million hole, and our roads look better than ever. It is this type of foresight that continues to distinguish Oro Valley from communities across the country.

Another proactive approach that the town employs is building inspection. Over the last few years, two stories have remained at the forefront of my mind. One story involved a town inspector’s discovery that the wall façade of a building under construction was not properly installed, and a small gap was beginning to show as the wall was pulling away from the roof. It is important to emphasize this was a major commercial building with a very sizable wall which could have had disastrous results if it had fallen.

The other story involves a residential inspection. A “do-it-yourselfer” had nearly completed a home remodel without obtaining the appropriate permits. During the inspection, town staff discovered several electrical fixtures in contact with combustible materials that were already showing signs of scorching, with the inevitable result being the cause of a fire. Upon learning this, the resident was embarrassed, but also extremely grateful. Our building inspectors are proactive in protecting us by ensuring the proper building codes are followed for both commercial and residential construction.

Another proactive approach that can never receive enough recognition is in the Oro Valley Police Department. I have been in management long enough to learn that when things are going well, it is not by accident or because we are lucky. It is because of hard work (and usually a great plan).

Our plan/philosophy for public safety is community policing, and our police department successfully executes this philosophy every day, as demonstrated in the department’s recognition as a model agency for school resource officers, for example.

OVPD also has a reputation for speed enforcement, but do you know why? I can assure you it is not to raise money, because most of that money goes to the state (the town only receives about 17 percent of the revenue). As studies have shown, speed enforcement reduces the number and severity of vehicular accidents. That sounds proactive to me. That is why we do it.

So why aren’t governments more proactive? The challenge is that the benefits are not always immediate or quantitative. It is very challenging to show how proactive work prevented something from occurring. For example, some people say that Oro Valley is so safe because of our demographics or that our roads are in good condition because we are a newer community. The town was incorporated in 1974. Obviously some roads are new; however, I can tell you that the lifespan of an unmaintained road is not 30-40 years. Also, with the violence we see across the country, no community is immune to regular or random acts of violence. Again, we don’t have great roads and a safe community because we are lucky. It is because we have a proactive strategy that we work to execute every day.

Being proactive has significant benefits. When the town built Naranja Park for $2.3 million, we had a very small budget to put in the needed infrastructure (water, electricity, etc.), but producing the highest-quality playing fields was a top priority. We went the extra distance to install excellent drainage and sand (under the soil), which would result in a quality playing surface. Our local users have enjoyed the wonderful new fields, but additionally, the fields will soon be used by professional soccer teams from other cities. These teams will stay in our hotels and put on training clinics for our youth while in town. But the primary points is, had we not been proactive and built exceptionally high-quality fields, professional athletes would not be coming to Oro Valley.

Being proactive takes vision and discipline, and the above examples are just a few of the ways in which the town consistently employs this approach. The pay-off has been tremendous, and our residents continue to receive the highest quality programs, services and facilities. So it is with a proactive eye that we approach our projects and opportunities in 2016.

By Town Manager Greg Caton  - Explorer Newspaper, January 20, 2016