02/07/2012 & 02/09/2012 Study Session & Town Council Meeting

HOW THE EPA COST GILBERT $318,000.

Vice Mayor Jenn Daniels questioned Water Manager Ochs on what are we doing with water that’s costing us $318,000? He explained that, because the EPA had lowered the allowable level of arsenic, and because theseare direct system wells, the Town has to treat them on the site to get the arsenic levels down.

Gilbert Watch: I’m curious. Did the EPA lower arsenic levels because of cries from the public to “do something” about all the illnesses and deaths occurring from high levels of arsenic? Or…just because.

Did you know that apple juice has higher amounts of arsenic than our drinking water.

Stop drinking apple juice!

NON-PROFIT SUPPORT. (Here we go again, again, again.)

The Council approved the Community Services Committee recommendations for FY2012-13 for annual funding priorities for human services, adding Youth Services for Prevention/Intervention, removing healthcare priority, and removing consideration of Community Development Block grant (CDBG) and HOME funds by the Community Services Committee.

Ms. Joan Krueger, Chair of the Community Services Committee, advised that past committees worked on priorities from the Council. This year, the committee determined its own needs, using 3 different data source reports. She identified the priorities.

Well, that idea didn’t work out too well. Various Council members expressed concerns that Youth was not included, nor Seniors, but that healthcare was included in the list of priorities. Council member Ray stated his concerns that there should be policy direction from the Council to guide the Community Service Committee’s work.

Council Member Petersen stated that the Council should set priorities for the Community Services Committee, and that there should be a statement making it clear that as long as taxpayer funds are provided to the non-profits, the non-profits who receive funding should stress to the persons they are assisting that the funds are only temporary. Self-reliance should be encouraged. (He was voted down.)

Vice Mayor Daniels said that a policy discussion by the Council should take place prior to the work of the Committee. She trusts the Committee, and also stated that the money under discussion is less than .3% of the Town’s entire budget.

BACKGROUND.

Back in Dec. 2009, the Citizens Budget Committee, convened by the Council, recommended that the Town Council gradually phase out using Gilbert taxpayer dollars to non-profit outside agencies for purposes of “charitable giving." The initial reduction was 25%, which allowed about $331,000 for FY 2010.

Stated in the Citizens Budget Committee Recommendation #CS-10:

“Phasing out funds will allow the organizations to find other revenue sources to reduce the expectations for funds to be provided by Gilbert. Some members felt that it was not proper for any government entity to use taxpayer funds to support charitable causes.”

The Council accepted the recommendation.

Two years later, some Council members continue to resist the recommendation, in the absence of a definite Council-provided “safety net.” These Council members think that it’s up to the Council to find alternative financial sources for the non-profits. Keep in mind that the non-profits are run by professionals who should be capable of doing their own fund-raising.

Non-Profits that received the most funding last year (FY2011-12) from the Gilbert taxpayer include:

$125,000 Boys and Girls Club – Gilbert Branch
$123,166 Community Services of Arizona (Gilbert CAP Office)
$ 37,821 Community Services of Arizona (Senior Center)
$ 9,200 A New Leaf, Inc. (East Valley shelters and men’s & youth centers)
$ 7,300 Save the Family

A few months ago, Council member Petersen was charged with heading up the “Sub-Committee on Non-Profit Community Support.” This sub-committee includes Mayor Lewis and Council member Jordan Ray. They have worked to find an alternative organization to administer the annual funding process and fundraise, while the Town continues reducing the General Fund contributions.

The Sub-committee is recommending that the Council eliminate the General Fund contribution to these Non-Profits within a 5-year timeframe, reducing the support in 20% increments beginning in FY 2012-2013.

THE COUNCIL WILL VOTE ON THIS 2/23/2012.

Some Council members think that 7 years isn’t long enough for the non-profits to find other funding sources. (Remember, this recommendation was first made in Dec. 2009.)

This brings me to a key Republican principle that identifies the difference between Republicans and Democrats:

“The cornerstone of Republican philosophy is the belief that each person is responsible for his or her own place in society. Individuals are encouraged by the Republican Party to work to secure the benefits of society for themselves, their families, and for those who are unable to care for themselves.

“Democrats are more willing to subordinate individual rights to the assumed needs of the group. They assume that society is collectively responsible for each of its members. They place less emphasis on individual enterprise and initiative.”

Minutes of February 2012 Meetings:
http://www.gilbertaz.gov/minutes/sminSearchResults.cfm?txtKeyword=FEBRUARY+2012&Submit=Go%21

Channel 11 Videotape of Meetings
http://gilbert.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=4

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