04/04/2011 Study Session – Highlights

I have good news and good news. Dawn Irvine, Gilbert’s Budget Administrator, provided the Expense versus Revenue Report through 2/28/2011. Expenses are down. Revenues are up.

The reasons given for expenses being down are employee attrition and unfilled vacancies.

In looking at the actuals, by department, every department’s expenses were down. The employees themselves are helping to accomplish this, and they deserve credit.

According to Ms. Irvine revenues are up because sales tax revenues are higher than projected.

Keep Telling Your Friends: Shop Gilbert where the Taxes are Lower!

Michelle Gramley, Intergovernmental Coordinator, reviewed several bills making their way through the legislature. The most onerous, HB1525, is an attempt at impact fee reform and has gone through some revisions since it was approved by the Senate.

There is a need for impact fee reform, and the bill clearly identifies what and what cannot be done with those fees, and holds towns and cities accountable to ensure those fees go for those types of services.

But it still contains a superfluous layer of bureaucracy: the 5-member Advisory Committee. It also contains a complex, complicated refund provision that makes the most knowledgeable people scratch their heads trying to figure it out. Also, the bill limits park size to 30 acres in a one size fits all approach. And it completely ignores including courts, traffic signals, and water recharge from the list of items that are eligible for impact fees.

We need reform, but I hope this barnacled bill is rejected by the House. It is being held right now by Kirk Adams, Speaker of the House. His email address is kadams@azleg.gov. Phone number is 602-926-5495.

The Budget package is on Governor Brewer’s desk. Arizona State Shared Revenues will remain intact, which is good news for Gilbert. There will be some impacts to Gilbert, however, amounting to about $1.7 million, but this is mostly HURF (Highway User Revenue fund). Not devastating.

Town Manager Collin DeWitt reported that he and Chief Jobusch traveled together to New York to bring back a 1500 foot, twisted metal beam that had fallen from one of the Twin Towers.

They made this trip at their own cost. A committee of citizens and staff will request donations to create a Memorial. It will be low enough for children to touch, explained Mr. DeWitt. He said that all 9/11 artifacts held in New York are under a solemn, respectful 24 hour guard by the Port Authority. He stated that this beam will also be guarded 24/7.

The Council discussed a possible agreement with Wild At Heart to create a burrowing owl habitat at Zanjero Park. Wild at Heart will create the burrows and provide 250 owls that have been displaced by development. The owls will be placed at the south end of the park next to existing farm land. Hmmmm. I guess there is no charge for incidental rodent suppression. There will be minimal financial impact to the Town.

Lonnie Frost, Public Works Director, advised of a Mutual Aid agreement among communities throughout Arizona. This is modeled after similar Police and Fire Mutual Aid Agreements.

It’s smart to share resources. Just like neighbors, when someone needs help, we go help.