03/10/2011 Town Council Meeting – Highlights

9/11/2001 MEMORIAL.  Town Manager Collin Dewitt advised that for some years he has been making an effort to obtain an artifact from the World Trade Center.  He was recently notified that an 8-foot beam from one of the fallen Towers is available to the Town.  He is driving to New York on 3/21/2011 to bring it back.  Through community support and private donors, a memorial will be built for the 9/11/2011 ceremony.

Gilbert Watch supports this dedicatory memorial in remembrance of the innocent lives lost in an evil destruction of our fellow Americans.

CITIZEN WANTS NO TAXPAYER MONEY FOR PRIVILEGE OF INSTALLING AMERICAN FLAGS IN GILBERT.  COUNCIL REQUIRES CONTRACT.    Moved by the display of American flags in a town in Montana, Gilbert resident Lee Simonich wanted to replicate a similar dramatic display of American flags throughout Gilbert.  She provided the Council with a detailed proposal including the selection of the flags, materials, possible sites, the useful life of each flag, replacement, etc.  She emphasized that she wanted no cost to be borne by the Town, explaining that it would be paid for through donations from local businesses, individuals, and independent organizations.  She advised that she was working with Constitution Week USA.

Council members Linda Abbott and John Sentz stressed the importance of a contract.  Ms. Abbott said she would like to see an expansion of the stakeholders’ committee and that personnel reimbursement occur in advance of placement of the flags.  There was discussion on whether or not the flying of flags would be in competition with businesses flying flags. Town Staff will work out the details of a contractual understanding, to be presented at a future Council meeting, March 24.

BUDGET UPDATE: GILBERT RESIDENTS!  PAY ATTENTION!  Send your budget cutting ideas to these individuals, and let them know that you do NOT want any more tax increases:  Budget Administrator Dawn Irvine: Dawn.Irvine@gilbertaz.gov.  Mayor and Town Council Members:  councilmembers@gilbertaz.gov

Please recall that a process was set up last February to analyze and resolve the $6 million deficit in the General Fund.  See previous Gilbert Watch Town Council Meeting and Citizen Think Tank meeting posts relating to the budget.  The next step in the process will be on April 7, 2011, at the next Council Meeting, when Dawn Irvine presents recommendations, including those of Think Tank members, for the FY2011-2012 Budget.

I attended both of the “in the Tank” meetings and heard several citizens recommend that a Use tax and a Primary Property Tax be imposed on their fellow Gilbert residents.  (When 5 liberals dominate the Council, you get a majority of “like-minded” citizens recommending tax increases.)

Council Member Abbott was on hand at the March 9, 2011 Citizen Think Tank meeting extolling the virtues of the Use Tax.  Of course, she has recommended it many times, so that’s no surprise.

Council member Jenn Daniels asked that information regarding the Think Tank meetings be placed on the Town’s website.  Meetings were held on 3/2/2011 and 3/9/2011.  To read the Minutes of these meetings, go here: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/minutes/sminSearchResults.cfm?txtKeyword=MARCH+2011&Submit=Go%21 You won’t find the recommendations for cuts and revenue generating ideas, because those are being compiled, and I presume they will presented to the Council on April 7.

COUNCIL REVISITS USE OF BANNER POLES.  WAIVES $200 BANNER FEE FOR GILBERT PROMOTIONAL CORPORATION’S GILBERT DAYS. There will be some revisions to the fees assessed to various businesses, schools, non-profits, and civic organizations who wish to feature a banner across Gilbert Road. Town-Sponsored events won’t have to pay the fee.  Chelle Bullard from the Gilbert Promotional Corporation was on hand to ask that the $200 fee for the Gilbert Days banner be waived.  Council approved it.

COUNCIL APPROVES 1-YEAR CONTRACT NOT TO EXCEED $950K FOR  LEGAL SERVICES. The Council approved a 1-year contract with the option of a 1-year extension for legal services provided by Curtis, Goodwin, Sullivan, Udall and Schwab, P.L.C.

PROCLAMATION! FIX A LEAK WEEK!  Because the amount of water leaked from US homes is estimated to be more than one trillion gallons per year, mostly from leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaky valves, the Town and Council are encouraging all of us to fix and repair leaks and use water efficiently.

The Proclamation begins, “Whereas, the Town of Gilbert, Arizona, is located in the Sonoran Desert…..”

Right.!  We live in a desert. This gave me an idea:  Since most of our water goes toward landscaping (residential), how about if the Town sets an example for all of us to follow?  How about if the Town reduces its water and landscaping costs associated with Parks and Open Spaces as well as in the Heritage district, Municipal facilities, rights of way, etc.?  

First, stop overplanting, which results in overwatering, which results in overcrowding, which results in choked, dying plants, which results in plant replacement, which results in overplanting, which results in……  Next, now that the harsh winter has killed off some of those shrubs and trees, DON’T replace all of them.  Given some elbow room, they grow into healthy, strong plants.  And third, even though grass and plantings provide a “cooling effect,” are we trying to air condition the Town of Gilbert, which is nestled in the Sonoran Desert?  Do you think a 10% reduction in plantings and water will cause Gilbert Warming?

COUNCIL APPROVES SPENDING $215,507.00 FOR A FRONT-END LOADER SOLID WASTE COLLECTION TRUCK.  Don’t forget the recommendation from Jordan Ray that we at least consider privatizing services, in an effort to reduce costs.  Solid Waste Management is one of the areas he suggested.

COUNCIL AUTHORIZES ADVERTISEMENT AND ACCEPTANCE OF STATEMENTS OF QUALIFICATIONS FOR CONTRACT FOR A PARKS AND RECREATION MASTER PLAN. Please, let’s not go overboard on this.

ZINKE DOCUMENTS ON TOWN’S WEBSITE: Go here: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/  You will find 8,000 to 10,000 documents relating to this $300k/acre purchase of 140 acres of farmland, to be developed into a park in the next 17 years, and then maintained.  Incumbents Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier, and Les Presmyk approved the purchase on 1/20/2009, without a public hearing, and assuming/disregarding/never reviewing an appraisal.    It sits about a mile from Chandler’s 113-acre Veterans Oasis Park..  It also sits about a mile from Chandler’s undeveloped 100-acre Mesquite Groves Park.     There are additional documents relating to Zinke that will require Council approval before they can be released to the website, because they are subject to client-attorney privilege.  This vote is expected on March 24.

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