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OV Town Talk: Oro Valley's strategic plan - guiding us to success

Photo of Town Manager Greg Caton with Oro Valley Town Seal

Like most public and private organizations, the town of Oro Valley has a strategic plan. Governments often get the reputation of producing plans that sit on the shelf. That is not the case in Oro Valley.

The strategic plan is a two-year document that is a shorter and more detailed view of the town’s goals than the voter-approved general plan, which is required every 10 years by state law.


September 23, 2015

The general plan is a wonderful representation of the community vision. As we all know, without a guiding vision, organizations (and communities) can veer off course. Because of its comprehensive scope and 10-year shelf life, the general plan can seem like an overwhelming document. The strategic plan allows us to approach that long-term vision in “bite-sized” pieces, keeping us grounded and focused in our day-to-day efforts.

It is also critical that we allocate the necessary resources to ensure we can achieve the goals set out in the strategic plan; therefore, it must align with the annual budget document.

One of elements I like most about the strategic plan is how it is developed.

First, Town Council takes the voter approved general plan and uses that as a foundation for creating the strategic plan goals. After the goals are established, town staff develops the actions and strategies to achieve those goals.

This is the beauty in the council-manager form of government with the town council setting the vision and the goals (based on community input) and then professional staff implementing the established goals.

The 2015 Strategic Plan contains five focus areas: Fiscal Responsibility, Communication, Economic Development, Parks Recreation and Cultural Development and Community Infrastructure and Services.

Fiscal responsibility is at the core of any public agency’s operations.

While other communities still struggle across the country, we have worked diligently, with success, toward annexations and business attraction and retention. We continue to carry a fund balance — or savings account — over the established policy minimum, while still making strategic capital investments.

Communication is critical for any community to move forward.

We utilized in-house staff to develop a brand-new website from the ground up about two years ago, and staff continues to customize and maintain the site as needs change. In keeping with current technology, staff developed and launched a mobile application and increased town engagement in social media to better communicate with residents.

We also understand the value of old-fashioned, face-to-face communication, and that’s why we still have community events, neighborhood meetings, Coffee with a Cop and more.

When it comes to economic development, I believe success is achieved through a system-wide approach — not by taking the view that Economic Development Division staff are the only employees engaged in that area.

Every department plays a role in economic development. The town has had some great successes over the recent years with the retention of Securaplane and the attraction of LCMS Laboratories, to name a few. We have also seen great success through the attraction of youth and amateur sports, including hosting the National Synchronized Swimming Championships last year.

This activity brings considerable economic activity into our community.

Parks, recreation and cultural development is a new focus area added into the 2015 plan.

Recent successes include the expansion of the aquatic center, the initial developments at Naranja Park, the Oro Valley Children’s Museum and ongoing improvements at Steam Pump Ranch.

the height of the recession, the town’s summer programs for youth had mostly been eliminated; however, due to the acquisition of the Oro Valley Community & Recreation Center and a wider array of amenities, approximately 1,500 youth participated in programs and camps this summer.

infrastructure and services is at the core of who we are as a community.

Our philosophy is to proactively invest in infrastructure before it is desperately needed.

This approach is both fiscally responsible and ensures quality of life for our residents.

Examples of this philosophy in action include our excellent roads, our growing public transit service, Sun Shuttle Dial-A-Ride, which is hitting all-time ridership records, and, of course, our public safety which has been based on the concept of community policing since 1977.

As we continue to move forward with the implementation of the 2015 Strategic Plan, it is important to note that the performance of town employees is evaluated based on the goals set forth in the plan. This ensures that our day-to-day efforts move us toward the community vision set out in the general plan. Our employees have been tremendously successful in executing the goals in our previous strategic plans, and will continue to achieve success as we move forward as a team, serving the residents of Oro Valley.

I encourage you to view the strategic plan at

By Town Manager Greg Caton  - Explorer Newspaper, September 23, 2015