06/22/2010 Town Council Meeting Summary

MAY 2010 BUDGET VERSUS ACTUAL – WE’RE STILL AHEAD!
May 2010 actual revenue was $2.5 million higher than budgeted. Expenses overall were lower than budgeted. Before you get too excited, part of the reason, according to Assistant Town Manager Marc Skocypec, was the increased construction sales tax revenues probably caused by the federal tax credit. That tax credit has since expired. Still, expenses were down, and that’s good. June is the month in which large debt service payments are due. With the last few months going better than expected, FY 2009-2010 may end better than the previous Town Manager George Pettit had predicted when the Council sent a sales tax increase, Prop 406, to a vote.
NEW VICE MAYOR APPOINTED
Les Presmyk was selected by the Council as the new Vice Mayor, replacing Linda Abbott.
COLLIN DEWITT TO SERVE AS TOWN MANAGER.
The Council voted to approve Collin Dewitt as the Town Manager for one year at an annual salary of $175,000. Even though the Council advertised the position, Mayor John Lewis explained that the Council decided it was better to extend the position to Mr. Dewitt in light of the need to begin immediate work on the Strategic Plan.
ZONING Z10-03 CHANGED TO RELAX RESTRICTIONS ON SIGNAGE, TO HELP PROMOTE BUSINESSES.
The Council voted to approve increasing the size of A-Frames; permit nationally registered trademarks and logos to be larger, but no more than 50% of the total wall sign; and to permit Flying Banners. The logo rules will be permanent. The other issues will be reviewed in 18 months. (Jenn Daniels adjusted the code wording, an “automatic expiration of the amendments 18 months from the effective date of the ordinance with “formal review after 18 months….”)
BUDGET – FY 2010-2011.
With savings from a new workers compensation contract of $475,000 inadvertently left out of the budget at the last Council meeting held 6/8/2010, Mayor Lewis asked that $482,000 be restored to cover the cost of the Spring 2011 Election. Also, Les Presmyk asked that the $312k figure be revised to $812k for the Fire Department’s overtime request, to partially restore a major cut of $1 million dating back to June 2009. The $812k was done as a “placeholder” pending obtaining more information regarding the Fire Department’s justification for the additional money. (Back in June, the Council had voted to remove $1 million from the Fire Dept’s budget.) The budget of $594,808,550, will be reviewed again at the next Council meeting.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT – BASELINE & HIGLEY ROADS.
Capital Projects Administrator Paul Mood presented the numbers for improving a section of road that are creating a bottleneck during rush hour: Baseline & Higley. One choice is a temporary additional road to ease traffic at a cost of $125k. The other choice is to create a permanent fix by adding additional lanes at a cost of $3.5 million. $900k would be shared with Mesa. That leaves $3.2 million. Since this money comes from the CIP budget not the General Fund, Paul advised that money in the CIP can be used, by taking it from other projects. The Council approved the permanent fix, in light of MD Anderson’s opening and the increased traffic in this area.
JARED TAYLOR SPEAKS TO COUNCIL ABOUT ANALYZING THE TOWN’S ROI (RETURN ON INVESTMENT)IN RELATION TO THE TOWN’S MOUs (MEMORANDUM OF UNUNDERSTANDING) WITH THE 3 UNIONS REPRESENTING TOWN EMPLOYEES.
Before the Council took action to approve the MOU’s (Memorandum of Understanding) with the GPLA (Gilbert Police Leadership Association), SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and IAFF (International Association of FireFighters), effective 7/1/2010 for a term of 12 months, Jared Taylor asked if the Gilbert citizens were benefitting from the MOU’s, and that an analysis of the ROI (Return on Investment) be done. He also cited the SEIU’s top leadership’s very public stand in boycotting Arizona, which of course includes Gilbert. This is a direct conflict of interest. Council approved the GPLA and IAFF MOUs. Due to a glitch in getting the SEIU contract to the Council, this contract will be reviewed at the next Council meeting.
Mayor Lewis asked that Marc Skocypec explore the issue of ROI with Jared.
(As an aside, in the May 20, 2009 Minutes, Marc Skocypec stated, “the process took over 2,000 hours of staff time to finalize negotiations for the three MOUs which are presented tonight, and include Counsel’s recommended changes …..” At a modest rate of $45 per hour, this would equal $90,000.)
Dave Crozier cautioned to not paint Unions with a negative broad brush, but stated no evidence that the local SEIU organization doesn’t support the boycott. As we have previously stated, Crozier has always been funded by the labor unions and is their most valuable apologist on the dais.
John Sentz stated that Gilbert employees have the lowest ratio of employees serving Gilbert citizens, and they have the lowest salaries compared to surrounding communities. Flippantly, John said what is the ROI of the ROI? Gilbert Watch asks, what is the ROI of John Sentz’s service to Gilbert so far? (More on Sentz’s ROI below.)
Gilbert Watch asks you to stop to think about these statements when comparing the ratio of Gilbert employees to population. Gilbert has more children under the age of 5 than any other neighboring community other than Queen Creek. How many 5-year olds require police intervention? How many 5-year olds interact with the Town of Gilbert? Gilbert is primarily a residential community. By contrast, Tempe is primarily an adult community, the home of ASU. Scottsdale has a large adult population. There are many more businesses in those communities. So, be careful with these comparisons. Think “variables.”
Also, municipalities compare their salaries/benefits with other municipalities, NOT with the community they serve. Gilbert employees are NOT underpaid. See blogs on Gilbert Watch noting the average Gilbert employee salaries.
Further, Marc said that he has worked with labor unions for over 20 years. He has never done an ROI study during this time. Other Councilmembers also stated that they have never asked to understand the benefits of MOU’s with the public or an analysis of the benefits to the community.
Would anyone or any business in their right mind blindly pay their bills without evaluating the quality of the service? Wouldn’t normal people want to evaluate their mortgage or insurance plans every few years to ensure they are getting the lowest rates and highest quality of service? Why wouldn’t we do the same with our MOU’s? Unfortunatley, our Town leadership isn’t wired this way.
COUNCIL AWARDS $468K TO OUTSIDE SOCIAL AGENCIES (CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS)
The Council approved several contracts to outside social agencies. About $340k of this was to be taken from the General Fund for FY2010-2011. This represents an approximate 25% reduction of last year’s budget. The reason for the 25% decrease was the result of recommendations from the Citizens Budget Committee. The Committee further recommended that the non-profits be gradually weaned away from tax dollars. The Gilbert Boys and Girls Club received additional money. This was taken from the voluntary contributions made by Gilbert residents on their utility bills through the “Neighbor to Neighbor” program.
It will be important for all of us to continue holding our elected officials accountable to follow through, so that the non-profits find other, private sources of funding.
GENERAL PLAN DISCUSSIONS.
Les Presmyk asked for community involvement in these discussions. I agree that this is an important area for Gilbert citizens to be involved.
STRATEGIC PLAN.
Collin Dewitt, Town Manager, presented upcoming steps in creating the Town’s Strategic Plan. It will begin with identifying a baseline that answers the question: What are the current core services using current funds? This step will involve Department Heads and Council. Collin also advised that Facilitators have been identified to help with processes throughout. Eventually, citizens will be invited to participate.
Jenn Daniels asked that the Strategic Plan that is created should be posted on a wall where everyone can see it regularly, to keep people informed and involved in it.
Ben Cooper expressed much enthusiasm about the project stating that it should be clear and simple, and involve everyone. It should identify what kind of community we will be at build-out. The service analysis and standards is a good place to begin. The vision will be important and will guide the budget. Sources of revenue need to be identified. It should be a multi-year plan at 5 years, 10 years, and beyond. It should be sustainable at build-out. It should be innovative, demonstrating new efficiencies and practices.
Les Presmyk reminded the group that it needs to include Guiding Principles.
Gilbert Watch hopes this strategic plan will modernize the current management practices with the office of the Town Manager. Some estimate our current management practices are 15-20 years behind industry. For example, the department heads are not financially accountable for staying wthin their budgets.
To be effective, this plan must include some recommendations from Jeff Niland and Jared Taylor to incorporate continuous improvement, performance management, shared services, and balance scorecard methodology.
Speaking of continuous improvements, John Sentz ran on a platform of using his Motorola Six Sigma background to improve Town Services. Gilbert Watch applauds his recommendation to consolidate procurement and other services. However, we are disappointed that on the 12 month anniversary of his service as a Councilmember, he has not delivered on his campaign promises. We hope the next three years are more fruitful.
THE NEXT REGULARLY SCHEDULED TOWN COUNCIL MEETING WILL BE JULY 27, 2010.
To view the full Town-produced Minutes of this meeting, click on Town of Gilbert on the Gilbert Watch Home page (left side).

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