04/06/2010 Town Council Meeting Summary

Tonight, Les Presmyk read a proclamation honoring Steve Urie’s many years of service as a council member. Steve resigned recently to run for State House for LD22. This is the seat that is being vacated by Andy Biggs. Because of Steve’s pro-tax voting record and role in expanding government, especially recreational welfare, Gilbert Watch does not suggest Mr. Urie for any elected position. He also is a big supporter of employee unions. He would devastate Arizona’s economy all the more if he were elected.
Tami Smull spoke during Communications from Citizens about the Global Village Festival, and she perpetuated the erroneous statement that GVF does not use taxpayer dollars. This is literally not true. There are two full time staff members who do nothing but help plan all Special Events. As of this writing, even though there is some cost recovery, there are still taxpayer costs involved. In defense of GVF, the leaders volunteer their time and attract many other volunteers and corporate sponsors. Still….
Diane Fells spoke about the importance of stealing taxpayer dollars and funding her special interest: Art. Well, she didn’t say it exactly like that. She spoke of how important this tax increase, Prop 406, is because art and culture define character. She said we don’t remember the malls at the cities we visit; we remember places we’ve visited because of the architecture and its sculpture. To her, that defines character.
Shane Stapley spoke against the tax increase, and specifically addressed Ms. Fell’s statements. He asserted that character is the result of good families and citizens. He also spoke of risks taken by entreprenuers, and their costs to produce something as simple as a loaf of bread, and how taxes erode the ability of business to succeed.
“The Money is There!” Jeff Niland spoke out about the very latest information that he has from San Diego County. To bring you up to date, it was Susan Hicks who one year ago told me about Dianne Jacob (Board Supervisor) and San Diego County’s success in balancing their budget, with a $700 million surplus, and without a tax increase. They used organizational efficiency tools, taken from the private sector, to accomplish this. I had asked Jeff Niland if his tools and techniques were similar. “Absolutely!” he told me. So, back in December, Jeff Niland and Jared Taylor (who also has experience with these methods), both of whom sat on the Steering Committee, submitted their reports to Council. Jeff wrote an article “The Money is There!” which I posted on Gilbert Watch. Jeff has continued to persevere with the Council, offering his services free for one year to “bring them the money.” Last night, Jeff reported that he has had many conversations with San Diego County, including Janice Graham, Chief of Staff, Chief Administrative Office, over the last couple of weeks, and they continue to succeed. In 1997, San Diego County was on the brink of bankruptcy, with a “junk” credit rating. They were furloughing employees, there was a hiring freeze, the roof leaked, computers were breaking down. Then, in desperation and with the help of an organizational efficiency expert, they began applying these tools to the County. By 1998, they were well on the road to success. Their credit rating is the best of any California county. They operate in the black with an adequate reserve. None of their computers is more than 3 years old. They are proud of their success.
Wouldn’t you think that other municipalities follow a Successful Model? Mayor John Lewis and Council member Jenn Daniels think so.
Highlights of the “Consent Calendar.” This is where the Council votes to approve a group of Contracts and Agreements with a single vote. They will sometimes identify some for discussion and clarification. Or they might pend some for a future meeting.
Last night, among several Contracts and Agreements, they outright approved, with no discussion, continuation of legislative consulting services ($42k per year), $574k in various groundskeeper/landscape contracts, plus a personnel reclassification of the Meter Services Supervisor Grade from $46,470 to $65,059 per year to Field Supervisor Grade.
Some Council members had asked for detail on the cost per linear foot/square yard relating to a street renovation slurry seal project costing $400k. The Staff person was unable to provide this information, so this did not pass until the information is presented at a later meeting.
In the Public Hearing portion, Paul Mood, Capital Projects Administrator, presented the status of the Capital Improvement Plan for 2010-2015. Following many questions and clarification provided by both Paul Mood and Marc Skocypec, it appears that, while the plan may call for certain projects and the System Development fees that are supposed to pay for them, those projects, if the money isn’t there, may be delayed. The CIP is not carved in stone, and there will be more hearings . Also, it appears that in times past, the CIP was initiated and authorized by Staff and Council. That has changed, and now it includes input from the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, the Gilbert Small Business Alliance, the multihousing industry, and home builders. Kathy Tilque spoke to this issue thanking the Council for including these “Stakeholders.”
And now for the bad news. At an earlier Council meeting, Jenn Daniels had successfully moved to reconsider the Council’s action of March 2, 2010 to delay action on options for Council terms, moving to fall elections and election costs to the regular meeting of June 8 2010. In Jenn’s getting this on the agenda for last night, two Gilbert citizens (Eddie Cook and Chris Ames) were going to speak in favor of moving those elections to Fall Even years, thereby saving the Gilbert taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, the Town Attorney, Susan Goodwin informed Jenn that the Council had to VOTE to reconsider the action. Jenn argued with Susan, citing a previous reconsideration issue at a previous Council meeting that had NOT required a Council vote. Susan advised that, well, that wasn’t done properly. Susan reiterated that this issue required a vote. It was no surprise that Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier, and John Sentz voted against reconsideration. So, it was DRT (“dead right there”).
Chalk up a loss for the Gilbert taxpayers. Prepared remarks from Eddie Cook and Chris Ames were a waste of their time. They have both been working very hard to convince the majority of Council members to shorten their terms, go to Fall Even year elections, and save the taxpayers money. But Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier, and John Sentze don’t want to do that. Also, as an aside, on 3/27/2010, the majority of Council members voted to NOT provide to the public the legal documents from the Town attorney and from Perkins Cole Brown and Bain related to changing the election cycle from Spring to Fall and from odd to even.
And now for some good news! The Council voted to approve Eddie Cook’s appointment as a regular member to the Town of Gilbert Water Resources Municipal Property Corporation. We need more Conservatives to get involved on these Boards and Commissions. If you cannot devote the time, please attend some of the meetings, so you know what’s going on. If you cannot attend some of these meetings, the Minutes are posted on the Town of Gilbert Home page. (See the link to Town of Gilbert on the Gilbert Watch home page.)
BUDGET. Interim Town Manager Collin Dewitt provided a current status on various budget cutting ideas, recapping the results of the 3/27/2010 Special Council Meeting where the Town employees’ suggestions were presented. He cited $897,902 in budget cuts/revenue sources. Collin and other staff members are continuing the vetting process, including more employee suggestions, and will be addressing more suggestions from the Citizens Budget Committees, including those of Steering Committee members Jeff Niland and Jared Taylor.
The next 1.5 hours were spent working out a process to select the Town Council member to replace Steve Urie. The bottom line is that the Council will use questions that are very similar to those that appear on the application for Board/Commission appointments. From 4/9/2010 – 4/26/2010, applications, including a resume and 300-word statement on why the candidate should be selected as a Town Council member will be accepted. 5/3 The council will vet the initial applications and present their scorecard to Cathy Templeton, Town Clerk. 5/12 Interviews of the final 12 or so will take place (public). 5/22 The Council will take the Final Vote (public).