06/20/2011 & 06/23/2011 Town Council Study Session & Meeting – Highlights

To recap, the construction of Fire Station #10 has been considered by the Council since 2007, but put on hold when the economy tanked. Later, in early 2010, it appeared that Gilbert might be able to obtain a federal grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The grant would pay for most of the construction. The grant has been secured and Council is being asked to approve a contract with Dean Douglas Development, LLC.

Council Member Petersen asked Chief Jobusch if there were any “hidden strings” attached to the grant, to which Chief Jobusch advised no.

He stated that the station as designed would conform to LEED principles. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Chief Jobusch also stated that FEMA required the use of solar panels, but these would ultimately reduce utility costs. He also stated that the station is being built to last 50 to 100 years.

Staff is continuing to work with FEMA to see if some of the leftover grant funds can be used for additional costs such as construction management and design.

Hopefully, we don’t see CHANGE ORDERS from the contractors several months from now, asking for more taxpayer money, because “there was no way they could foresee extra expenses.”

Speaking of CHANGE ORDERS the Council approved two contract increases totaling $171,107.

Council Member Petersen questioned both of them. Assistant Engineer Medina explained that it would be difficult to approach the Construction Manager at Risk for a fee reduction since this additional work was not part of the original scope.

Assistant Manager Ryall explained that “often problems for the installation of underground utilities are not found until the project is underway and the area is exposed.”

Please recall that at the June 9, 2011 meeting, Gilbert’s Community Services Director, Jim Norman, reported that he had been alerted by a citizen to read the FaceBook entry of then Library Branch Manager Andrew Chanse (Maricopa County employee). That FB entry detailed an incident at the library that resulted in a call to the police. According to Mr. Chanse, who spoke at the 6/9 Council meeting, this wasn’t the first time incidents involving conduct and theft have occurred. These incidents have been occurring since June 2010.

June 9, 2011 was, however, the first time that the Council had been advised of library troubles that had been going on for over a year, giving the Council about 30 seconds to respond.

June 9, Jim Norman and his staff, along with Gilbert’s police department, started working on a multi-layered security plan and began implementing it immediately.

They reported their strategy at the 6/23 meeting. Town Manager DeWitt advised that they would assess these methods for a period of time, and if they failed to improve the situation, security could be hired.

Because the Town’s budget for FY2011-12 took effect 7/1/2011, and because the previous Council had approved the funding allocation process which began on January 24, 2011, it was tough for this Council to postpone and review this item 7 days before the end of the fiscal year.

Council Members Victor Petersen and Eddie Cook expressed concerns about continuing to use the General Fund (taken from Gilbert taxpayers) to redistribute to non-profits and outside agencies. Last year, and again this year, the Council has awarded about $328k to various service organizations.

In addition, the Council approved awarding another $400k or so to several outside agencies and non-profits. Most of this money is used for affordable housing for low and moderate income residents. Some of the money is simply an “entitlement” provided to Gilbert by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The rest of the money comes from grants, distributed by Maricopa County. The source of that money is also from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD receives their funding from the American taxpayers. It gets a little involved: Taxpayer > Federal Government > HUD > Maricopa County > Town of Gilbert > Intended Recipient.

Jim Torgeson, Chairman of the Community Services Committee that made the proposal for allocation of funds, addressed the Council asking that the Committee become a year-round Committee with the purpose of exploring all options for future funding.

The Council will discuss this further at the upcoming Retreat.