05/01/2010 Gilbert Town Council Special Meeting Summary

The following Minutes were compiled by Eddie Cook. Please note that many budget reduction ideas put forth by the Citizens Budget Committee (CBC) and others were reduced or reversed by the Majority of the Council. Certainly, it can be argued that some of the funds transfers, had they been approved, would reduce the Enterprise Funds, Street Funds, etc., in the short term. But those funds transfers could have been used for Public Safety.
Also, during this meeting Jim Norman, the director of Community Services, stated that the CBC had recommended a 65% cost recovery for aquatics, which was a 22% increase in the cost to parents for swimming lessons. Sounds pretty drastic doesn’t it? The Council thought so, too, and backed down to a 12% increase. What was not stated is that a swimming lesson now costs $2.88. A 22% increase means $3.50 per lesson. Compare that price to the private sector: EVO charges $16 per lesson.
And on it went. Almost $3,000,000 was not approved by the Majority of the Council to help reduce the deficit. If you add the projected surplus for FY09-10 of $2,000,000 then the General Fund Budget for FY10-11 could be balanced with these unapproved recommendations, plus a portion of the “slush fund” in the General Fund Balance. It could have been balanced.
But that was not to be. A deficit of $6.1 million was left.
Everything done on 5/1/2010 could be considered primarily a “short term” fix. In the near future, the Council will need to address long term, strategic, sustainable budget reduction ideas. Will they address organizational efficiencies, perhaps looking at excellent role models of success?
Three At-Large members of the CBC stated on 3/23/2010, “our fear is that if this permanent sales tax is approved, it will support continued inefficiencies that will remain in the Town’s infrastructure. Instead, the Town needs to reapply tools that have been used successfully in business and other communities to eliminate inefficiencies and improve prioritization. This is how we can retain our services. “
Or will they keep comparing themselves to the "surrounding communities" and sing the same old tune: Additional tax increases from Gilbert’s residents and businesses.
May 1, 2010 Gilbert Town Council Special Meeting Summary
By Eddie Cook
The purpose of this special meeting was to finish the vetting of the FY2010-11 General Fund budget reduction recommendations from the Citizens Budget Committee (CBC), Employees, Management and Town Council. This morning the Council approved a motion to allow citizens to speak prior to the meeting. I was one of seven individuals that spoke. My message was that after the vetting was completed and if it was determined that there would be no deficit for the FY10-11 General Fund Budget; I suggested that Council rescind the lay-off notification recently sent out to Town employees. I said that there is fear among staff regarding the layoff notification. I also asked that Council reject the 3% cut in salaries recently offered by employee organizations.
The meeting lasted 5.5 hours. The majority of that time was spent discussing 10 policy issues related to the CBC and Management recommendations.
A. CBC #4 – Will the Town close the loophole of the residential tax exemption by treating all rentals the same? (Currently, if an owner has less than 3 rental properties, the rent is not subject to the residential tax. If the exemption is lifted, all owners of rental properties will be subject to the tax.)
B. CBC #5 – Will the Town continue a conservative principal protective portfolio (from 1% to 1.5 %)?
C. CBC #6 & #35 – Will the Town continue to subsidize/support Special Events?
D. CBC #8 – Will the Town move Enterprise Fund monies to supplement the General Fund?
E. CBC #15 – Will the Town use Street Fund monies to supplement the General Fund?
F. CBC #17 & #19 – Will the Town continue to subsidize Arts/Culture/Museum and Outside Agencies at the current level?
G. CBC #32 – 5% reduction to Police, Prosecutor, Municipal Court.
H. CBC #36 – Should vacancies be unfrozen for non-public safety positions.
I. MGMT #4 – Should the Town reduce the General Fund contingency budget from 2% to 1%?
J. MGMT #6 – Should the Town use Non-restrictive Fund Balances, including Utility Funds, to support the General Fund?
Vice-Mayor Abbott asked that items related to Town use of unrestrictive fund balances to balance the budget, including Utility Funds, be discussed first (items D, E & J). There was a discussion among the council members. A MOTION was made by Vice Mayor Abbott, seconded by Councilmember Presmyk, to not move Enterprise Funds, Streets Funds, or non-restrictive funds, including utility funds, to supplement or support the General Fund. Motion carried 4-2 with Mayor Lewis and Councilmember Daniels voting against the motion.
(What this motion did was to reverse a prior vote from a previous Council meeting for moving $1,000,000 from the Streets Fund into the General Fund.)
Item “B” was discussed and would be continued at the Town Council retreat.
Item “C” was discussed. CBC #6 was dropped and #35 was approved by a 6-0 vote.
Item “F” involved a lot of discussion and modifications related to continued funding of arts, culture and museums.
Item “G” was discussed and was not approved by a 6-0 vote.
Item “H” was discussed and was approved by a 5-1 vote to unfreeze the seven non-essential public safety positions. Councilmember Daniels voting against the motion. This would have reduced the budget by $381,900.
Item “I” was discussed and was approved by a 4-2 vote not to reduce the Contingency Fund from 2% to 1%. Mayor Lewis and Councilmember Daniels voted against the motion. This would have reduced the budget by $1,104,000.
Council discussed and established a 53% cost recovery for aquatics programs. Motion carried by a vote of 6-0.
Mayor Lewis discussed moving Town elections to fall of even or odd numbered years. This was a budgetary discussion and not a policy discussion to move the election to the fall. Mayor Lewis suggested moving $482,000 from the FY2011-11 budget to FY2011-12 budget. The funds could be reinstated if Council determines to modify election dates at the June 8, 2010 meeting or a subsequent meeting. A motion to move $482,000 from the FY2010-11 to the FY2011-12 budget. Motion carried 5-1 with Councilmember Daniels voting against the motion.
The Council agreed to transfer $200,000 from the photo equipment replacement fund and $90,000 from police security fund of the prosecutor’s office. Motion carried by a vote of 6-0.
All the vetting was then completed. Assistant City Manager Mark Skocypec indicated that out of $24,000,000 of suggested recommendations, only $9,000,000 would be applied to the projected FY10-11 budget deficit of $15,000,000. Leaving a deficit of $6,000,000.
Almost $3,000,000 was not approved today to help reduce the deficit. If you add the projected surplus for FY09-10 of $2,000,000 then the General Fund Budget for FY10-11 could be balanced with these unapproved recommendations and the “slush fund” in the General Fund Balance.
Mayor Lewis ended the meeting by saying he believe that layoffs in the Town was not necessary to balance the budget. Mayor Abbott concurred. Very good news to all Gilbert Town employees.

Leave a Reply