09/20/2010 Town Council Study Session Summary

Here are the Highlights. Please note that beginning with this meeting, Minutes are supposedly being taken by the Clerk of the Court for Study Sessions and will be available on the Town’s website. (Click on “Town of Gilbert” on Gilbert Watch, then “Town Hall” and you will find the link to “Agendas and Minutes.”)

CONSENT CALENDAR

1) Council Member Linda Abbott questioned Chief Dorn about a $199,999 grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Recovery asking how much for training versus for equipment. Chief Dorn advised that $20,699 is for training which had been removed from the budget. This will be primarily for keeping skills current.

2) Council Member Jenn Daniels questioned the impact on surrounding properties from the construction of a 2 million gallon reservoir and pump station at Ray and Recker Roads. Staff advised there is some impact, but they can mitigate the issues.

3) Town Manager Collin Dewitt presented a new Town personnel organizational chart with fewer people reporting directly to him, primarily the Assistant Town Managers. Positions will be reclassified in order to consolidate engineering functions. Mayor Lewis added that this will pull functions together to allow for cross training, closer working relationships, better communications and traffic.

Mr. Dewitt stated that the new chart is designed to be strategic in the event of an economic downturn or if a key employee leaves. Also, Public Information will report directly to the Town Manager so that communications are consistent. Linda Abbott asked about pay raises, and Staff advised yes because some employees will take on supervisory roles. Rules require that a supervisor must earn 5% above the highest paid employee he/she supervises. However, due to the new organization, there will be some savings overall. The new organization is being implemented on a trial basis.

4) Jenn Daniels questioned the issue of property abandonments and if there is a formula for how surplus property is dealt with. Marc Skocypec advised no, but that this issue needs to be discussed.

5) There was some discussion relating to how the budget reports are presented and the problems that result if they are not clear to the public. Linda Abbott stated that lack of clarity leads to misunderstanding.

PUBLIC HEARING

1) Discussion ensued regarding System Development Fees and that Gilbert has always supported using them for their “growth pays for growth” concept. However, the Arizona State Legislature might not allow them. What is the alternative and how would this impact the Town’s budget? Mayor Lewis asked Marc Skocypec to present an executive summary.

2) Judge Hudson presented information on a Home Detention Program targeting DUI offenders. If this were instituted, it would save about $736k annually in jail costs. The expense falls on the offender. They are able to continue to work to pay the costs. The offender wears a GPS bracelet, and cannot drive if alcohol is detected. If they break the rules, a supervisor is notified electronically. The offender loses the home detention privilege and goes to jail.

The Prosecutor spoke briefly regarding her concerns about the program stating that DUI offenders are the most dangerous. Following more discussion, the Council asked for data on the effectiveness of these programs and the rate of recidivism. Chandler, Mesa, and Phoenix have these programs.

FUTURE MEETINGS

Linda Abbott asked that an agenda item be placed for a future discussion relating to the impact on Gilbert on the possible legalization of marijuana in November. Mesa, Chandler, and Tempe are looking at this issue as well.

STUDY SESSION ITEM.

Report and Discussion on the Unified Annual Business License process in Development Services. (Some folks might prefer this title: “Cool Way to Squeeze Money out of Gilbert Businesses Without Having to Raise Taxes”).

Greg Tilque, Development Services Director, provided the current status following several meetings of the “stakeholders.” Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier, Ben Cooper and John Sentz were happy to report that “business” was represented through the GSBA (Gilbert Small Business Alliance) and Chamber. (If they hadn’t been a part of it, the “fees” would probably be twice as high. This was forced "diversity.")

1) All businesses based in Gilbert, including home-based businesses, will be required to purchase an Annual Business License (rather than the current 3-year business registration). $35 Initial Fee; $15 Renewal.

2) All Gilbert businesses will be subject to a Fire Inspection Fee of $15 – $50 based on risk. (Does not apply to home-based businesses).

This is still in the draft stage. New fees are scheduled to take effect in January 2011.

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