08/12/2010 Town Council Study Session Summary

Starting 8/1/2010, the Town Council began having Study Sessions, usually on the Monday prior to the formal Thursday Council Meeting. Study sessions are open to the public, but the public is not allowed to speak. Minutes are not kept for these meetings, either. The public may attend the meetings, view them live on Ch. 11, or view them later on video tape. The rationale for not keeping minutes is that there is no voting during a Study Session, so there is no legal requirement.

My personal opinion is that Minutes should be kept, in consideration of the busy schedules of taxpaying residents. Also, in reviewing the video of the 8/12 session, the audio degraded during Dave Crozier’s presentation. If you agree, please send an email to the Council at councilmembers@gilbertaz.gov

If you wish to see the presentation materials, go here:

If you wish to watch the 3 hour and 17 minute video, go here:

Here is a brief overview:

Since early August, the Council has been preparing to approve the FINAL version of the Strategic Plan. That approval is targeted for 1/10/2011 and 1/13/2011. In this Study Session, each Council member was assigned a category of Town services and gave a 10-minute presentation identifying the baseline: What are we currently doing? Council members also began to identify Top Strategic Items for Future Consideration.

Each council member presented the following:

Mayor John Lewis – Administration and Finance (Manager, Clerk, Legal)
Linda Abbott – Community Services (Parks, Recreation, Library)
Ben Cooper – Development Services (Administration and Customer Services, Business Development, Inspection and Compliance Services, Permit and Plan Review, Planning and Development).
John Sentz – Fire
Vice Mayor Les Presmyk – Public Works (Water, Wastewater, Solid Waste, Streets)
Dave Crozier – Police (Police, Prosecutor, Court)
Jenn Daniels – Support Services (Human Resources, Technology Services, Building Maintenance, Fleet Services).

Broad Highlights:

* The Town provides 420 services.
* Maintenance of parks, trails, open spaces is the largest budget item within Community Services.
* Linda Abbott suggested there should be another Master Plan for Parks/Recreation since the previous one covered the period ending 2001.
* Ben Cooper noted a need for more technology to aid businesses and others needing to complete permitting applications,registrations, inspections, and other forms. There is also a need for consistency within the Town relating to fulfilling Town requirements.
* John Sentz advised that Fire is meeting first response of 4 minutes or less. He added that the clock stops as soon as the Fire Chief arrives, and no fire fighting occurs until the first unit arrives.
* Multi-unit response times are collected but not reported.
* Due to budget cuts, the department is using equipment longer.
* There is a need for technology to facilitate record keeping.
* Fire fighters have begun conducting low risk inspections, and annual inspections of fire hydrants, per recommendation of the Citizens Budget Committee.
* Dave Crozier advised that at build-out, Police will need to double the current staffing.
* Six hundred people applied for 11 sworn officer positions.
* In spite of not meeting all identified goals, it was noted that Gilbert is the safest city in Arizona.
* Courts receive 137,000 visitors so far this calendar year, with 10-minute wait times. Much of the information sought by customers in person can be found on the Gilbert website. Other issues can be resolved through new technology (kiosks at the Court.)
* Les Presmyk noted that 3 of 4 service areas in Public Works have revenue streams.
* There are 270 employees in Public Works, 24,100 street lights. 29 cameras watch intersections throughout Gilbert.
* Facilities are new, but will need to be replaced in the future.
* Jenn Daniels advised that support services affect all departments. She advised that the Town has the expertise to implement a Technology Master Plan, which would help all departments who need this.
* The most astounding revelation occurred when Dave Crozier asked about the financial impact to the Town as Health Care Reforms begin to take place over the next few years. Specifically, he was concerned about increased cost when the Town has to pay for “dependent children to age 26, no matter what their student status, and even if they are married.” Les Presmyk responded that these dependents are already covered by the Town and they have been for years!