03/24/2010 Town Council Meeting – Highlights

LINDA ABBOTT PULLS A “WISCONSIN DEMOCRAT.”
Tonight the Council voted 6-0 to waive the attorney-client privilege and release to the public about 39 emails and attachments related to the acquisition of real property from Bernard Zinke.

Upon hearing Mayor Lewis announce this agenda item, Council Member Linda Abbott excused herself, got up and sat in the audience. She returned to the dais after the vote, however. You can find these plus thousands of other documents on the Home Page of the Town’s website

TOWN COUNCIL ELECTIONS.
A Certificate of Election was presented to Council Member-Elect Eddie Cook by Mayor Lewis! Presentation of Certifications of Nominations were also presented to Victor Petersen, Jordan Ray, Ben Cooper, Les Presmyk, Dave Crozier, and Linda Abbott. (Please vote for Victor and Jordan in the upcoming May 17, 2011 Election!)

THE TAX MAN COMETH.
Kevin Bishop and Jim Kuzmich, Gilbert residents, each spoke out asking for the Council’s help to resolve what they consider an unfair tax. Mr. Bishop explained that he had served on the Citizen Think Tank committee, and he was happy to do so, but now he needed the Council’s help. He stated that he received a letter from the Town’s tax auditor, John Olson, advising him that he owed $4,000 in back taxes, due to his building and his business (common ownership) being in two separate names. Mr. Bishop advised that there is a bill making its way through the AZ Legislature, HB 2230, that is supposed to remedy this type of situation. Mayor Lewis referred them to Assistant Town Manager Tami Ryall.

PRIVATIZATION OF STREET STRIPING SAVES TAXPAYERS OVER $450,000!
At the 3/21/2011 Study Session, Curtis Yardley, Streets Manager, presented the results of privatizing street striping initiated back in October 2009. PMI was awarded the contract. They use their own equipment, and they did much of the work at night, when there is low traffic. They did it in 79 days which also limits the Town’s exposure to liability.

When Town staff provided this service, it was done year around.

Not only did PMI save the Town $450,000, but they also came in under the contracted amount by $78,588. Mr. Yardley recommended continuing outsourcing this service and also selling the street striper, which has been mothballed pending the success of this venture.

Council Member Linda Abbott did not think it wise to sell the Town’s striper machine, “just in case” we might need it in the future, since a new unit would be extremely expensive. Because you just never know how the free market might end up costing us more than these savings indicate today. The contract being considered by Staff is for 5 years.

No votes were taken on this item, as it was a staff report.

BUDGET.
Budget Administrator Dawn Irvine gave a very broad review stating that citizens from the Think Tank suggested that the Town continue maintaining current service levels but also continue looking for efficiencies and streamlining processes. They also suggested renegotiating bond rating. Some recommended additional revenue sources, but Ms. Irvine stated there were strong feelings on both sides about this issue. The report of the Citizen Think Tank meetings will be presented at an upcoming meeting by facilitator Dick Bowers.

A DEVELOPER ASKS FOR A MINOR MODIFICATION AND GETS AN EARFUL.
This item was also the subject of a lengthy discussion at the 3/21/2011 Study Session. The developer, responding to customer requests, asked that a change be made to side yard setbacks from 10’ and 10’ to 5’ and 10’, and increase the size of the homes. This is in SanTan Estates Vintage at Legend Ridge Planned Area Development, a gated community.

The effect would be to reduce the side yard setbacks and increase lot coverage to allow for a greater variety of housing products on individual lots.

The developer had worked extensively with Planner Amy Temes, who stated that the change was well within the General Land Development Code and had the approval of staff. There would be no effect on open space, nor plat size. The developer had added several additional elevations and varied streetscapes.

Council Member Abbott spoke extensively about her concerns that in the past, developers have wanted to place more homes onto smaller lots and side yards, creating problems with people unable to maneuver their trash cans to the street. Ms. Temes advised that this wouldn’t be a problem. Ms. Abbott also worried that this exception would set a precedent.

Attorney Goodwin explained no it did not set any legal precedent.

Dave Crozier and Ben Cooper pointed out that this situation was unique with unique characteristics. It is not setting a precedent. Also, this is an infill piece with difficult lighting issues.

Council Member Presmyk wanted to restrict the builder to doing just 20% of the lots this way. He had little sympathy for builders always saying they can’t sell in this market. Crozier argued against allowing only 20%, stating it would unduly burden staff and not give the developer the flexibility he needed. The applicant also argued against it citing an administrative nightmare for the Town.

Ben Cooper stated that he took a drive to the site to see it for himself and was impressed with the high quality of the development.

This item passed.

HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD SURVEY RESULTS.
Every year for the last 16 years, the Town spends about $24,000 to conduct a survey of residents to find out what they like and don’t like about Gilbert. It helps them plan. This year, Dr. Margaret Kenski’s Tucson-based team used a survey sample of 502 residents, down from 600 in previous years. Council Member Daniels questioned the smaller sample. Assistant Manager Ryall stated it was reduced to save money, and Dr. Kenski assured her the results were still valid. Member Daniels asked if other East Valley communities conducted surveys like this. Mgr Ryall didn’t know but would check. She knew that Chandler put surveys into their utility bills.

Most of us could take a wild guess at what those results might be. For one thing, the results are nearly identical to previous years. Maybe this survey could be done less often? Every 3rd year?

Also, no one has any excuse for not being able to communicate to staff and public officials their likes and dislikes about Gilbert. We have email, facebook, twitter, mail, the blogosphere, public Council Meetings, telephones, citizen task forces, planning commissions, committees, think tanks, newspapers—do we really need to spend $24k every year on a telephone survey to find out what these 502 Gilbert residents’ heads are thinking?
Is this a bit redundant?

DISASTER RELIEF FOR JAPAN.
Gayle Disch, along with Ken Maryuami, and Lynn Hubbard asked the public to assist in the disaster relief effort to help the people of Japan, following the earth quake and tsunami that has destroyed thousands of homes and lives. Please go to the Town of Gilbert’s home page regarding donations: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/. Donations can be offered at the upcoming Town sponsored Global Village Festival, which will be held on April 9.

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