What’s really going on
At the Oro Valley Community Center
By Misti Nowak, Town of Oro Valley Communications Administrator
Some recent media coverage regarding the Town of Oro Valley’s golf courses was a reminder that, even after two years of Community Center ownership, there are still some folks who don’t fully understand the big picture, and—most importantly—the overwhelming success of this facility.
Did you know?
There are 2,027 people with an Oro Valley Community Center fitness membership as of March 1, (up from 1,834 users this time last year).
There were 1,300 child- ren who participated in one of our 34 Community Center summer camps last year. And this summer, the Center will also host the I Can Too! camp for children with special needs.
There are 60 fitness classes offered every week at the Community Center, such as yoga, spin, Zumba, boot camp and strength training.
There are dozens of free, family-friendly events held at the Community Center each year, including live concerts, drive-in movies, the Easter Eggstravaganza and Halloween Spooktacular.
In fact, due to the increased volume of traffic in and out of the Community Center, the Town will be installing a traffic signal on La Cañada Drive this year to increase safety and improve traffic flow.
Okay, but what about golf?
Despite the fact that golf operations are just a portion of the overall Community Center programming, golf still seems to generate some confusion, so let’s take a look at that.
To summarize, in our first year of ownership (FY 2015-16), operating expenses for the golf/tennis/food and beverage portion of the Community Center exceeded revenues by about $500,000. To put that into perspective, the Town’s General Fund budget in FY 2015-16 was $32.1 million. So the $500,000 difference accounted for 1.6% of that fund.
As any business owner knows, the first year can be the toughest, because you’re often operating from projections. But as the Town prepared for its second year of ownership (FY 2016-17), we had a year’s worth of actual figures and usage data to help us make adjustments to our operations so that we could continue to meet users’ needs and identify efficiencies to bring costs down.
To that end, I have some great news. We’re trending to finish out this fiscal year with operating expenses decreasing, and dedicated sales tax revenues increasing, which will eliminate the $500,000 gap we saw last fiscal year.
We’ll soon begin our third year of ownership, and we are on trend for our five-year plan. Council and staff will continue to evaluate operations and look for efficiencies. In fact, we are currently in the process of bringing on a consultant to objectively evaluate and identify opportunities to reduce costs while still providing quality amenities and programs.
This is probably a good time to mention that all municipal parks and recreational facilities are subsidized by taxpayer money, not just here in Oro Valley, but also across the nation. Parks and recreation—like quality roads, public safety and public transportation—are services provided to you through your tax dollars. And while not every resident uses our parks, or plays tennis or sends their children to summer camp—we understand that collectively, we are building a comprehensive community with high quality of living.
When the Oro Valley Community Center first opened its doors nearly two years ago, our primary goal was to finally have a place where our residents could gather for special events, programs, fitness classes and learning opportunities. We wanted to make sure there was something for everyone at every stage in life. Because sense of community and connection with others is critical at any age.
So is that goal being achieved?
Last week, one of my staff members came back from a visit to the Community Center, exclaiming, “It was crazy there! As I was walking through the fitness area, people were lining up to get into the fitness classes as the previous crowd was streaming out.”
We’re talking people of all ages, sizes and abilities coming together in our Community Center.
“There’s more,” she continued. “As I was leaving the building, I looked over at the pool, and there were seniors doing water aerobics in one end, and children playing in the other end. It was so cool!”
As the Mayor said in his 2016 State of the Town Address: “This is why we do what we do.”