07/27/2010 Town Council Meeting Summary

During this primary election season, many of us, including me, have been focused on helping candidates.

Unfortunately, Gilbert Watch has fallen down on the job of watching Gilbert. To avoid this pitfall in the future, I am going to present briefer Town Council Summaries, focusing only on what I consider the most crucial items.

This was the first Town Council meeting following a month long hiatus after the meeting that was held on 6/22/2010. This is what happened:

1) No Communications from Citizens.

2) As usual, the Council approved many contracts to spend money on various road improvements, traffic poles, fire uniforms, and other priorities. However, Gilbert obtains hundreds of thousands of dollars through “federal grants” and other types of “grants” for many purposes. At this meeting, grants were received to pay for Town-wide traffic signal timing projects, 224 pedestrian countdown pedestrian signals, an improvement to the Santan Vista Trail, and signal modification and communication equipment. Other grants are being applied for many other projects.

So, where does all of this “Grant Stash” come from? The federal government takes it from the taxpayer; the state of Arizona takes it from the taxpayer. So, if $100 is taken from the taxpayer, how much is that $100 worth when it is finally dispersed to a municipality? How many government hands does it pass through until it finally pays for some wonderful project? How many new agencies and new government employees are required to “process” all those grants? I don’t know. It would probably depress me if I knew.

3) No Citizens spoke regarding Public Hearing items.

4) Council approved Ordinance #2294. This is a new tax on persons who rent out fewer than three lodging spaces. (Previously, if you had 3 or more rentals, you paid the tax.) This was one of the 3 taxes that was the subject of a Petition drive in which 2500 Gilbert voters stated they wanted all 3 taxes sent to the voters. As a result of the petitions, the Council rescinded the 3 taxes on 8/11/2009. They sent the sales tax (Prop 406) to a vote in May 2010. It was defeated.

Council did not send Ordinance #2294 to the voters. They simply passed it tonight 7-0.

5) For the umpteenth time, the Council kicked the Odd versus Even Elections decision down the road again. John Sentz made the motion; Dave Crozier seconded it. Mayor Lewis and Jenn Daniels voted against it. Jenn Daniels stated, “the Council has waited a long time to have this discussion, and the discussion is overdue.” She said she is disappointed the discussion is not taking place tonight.

Indeed. Back in December 2009, The Citizens Budget Committee recommended that Elections move to Fall Even years, to save the taxpayers $116k per year. To stay with Odd years requires a Special Election and additional costs. (More on this later—See the 8/2/2010 “Study Session.”)

6) Assistant Town Manager, Marc Skocypec presented what I consider a common sense suggestion to repay outstanding bonds by using available cash from the current wastewater system repair and replacement fund. There will be significant savings in interest payments over time. The customary way of repaying the bonds has been through System Development Fees. With development projects down, there isn’t much money available to pay down the debt. Yet, money accumulates in the replacement fund (at a much lower interest rate). Council approved Marc’s recommendation.

To read the full Minutes of this meeting, go here: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/minutes/ssearchMin.cfm

To see the video recording of the Council meeting, go here http://gilbert.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=4

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