09/6/2011 & 09/08/2011 Town Council Study Session & Meeting


  • The problem: Pet owners take their dogs to taxpayer paid Cosmo Park to romp and play and splash in the pond, but many of those pet owners don’t pick up after their animals. (Signs, bins, and bags are everywhere throughout the park). So taxpayer paid Town employees pick up after the irresponsible pet owners, and the Town’s Solid Waste Department hauls away 33.75 tons of dog feces every year.
  • The Solution: At wit’s end, several months ago Gilbert Staff took it upon themselves to approach ASU’s Polytechnic Dept. to see if they could design a fun, useful, methane burning “dog waste digester.” Thus, pet owners would be cajoled into being “environmentally responsible” and pick up their dog’s poop, put it into the dog waste digester, turn a crank, and marvel to see it light a small street lamp.
  • Voting against it: Eddie Cook, Victor Petersen, and Jordan Ray. They asked the most questions of Staff about this project, including issues of Return on Investment (there are none); costs to the taxpayer (Staff will do their darnedest to find a corporate sponsor to come up with $25,000 for the digester); issues of Liability; issues of Sanitation, especially if children pick up poop left by irresponsible adult dog owners.
  • Ultimately voting for it, Jenn Daniels and John Lewis were concerned enough about costs to the taxpayer, that they committed to help Staff find corporate sponsors. However, they think that Gilbert taxpayers should be involved in a partnership with ASU and in the creative approach Gilbert is taking.
  • Rubber Stamps: Ben Cooper and John Sentz.

GW’s position: Even if corporate sponsors are found, what exactly does a Gilbert taxpayer partnership with ASU’s Polytech mean? Corporate sponsors are usually plentiful for ASU projects. Why not this one? Creativity is nice, but this isn’t new technology. It’s patterned after an art project at MIT. After the designer/cheerleader of the project moved away, the tanks were removed. I suppose you could make a case for new technology required for placement of the tanks since there is a climate difference between Arizona and Massachusetts.

The Dead Moose on the Living Room Floor: Why doesn’t the Town actively enforce the law? What about holding these irresponsible pet owners accountable for their actions? Posted everywhere throughout the park is a sign that reads: “Leash –Curb and Clean Up After Your Dog. IT’S THE LAW! $25.00 to $200 FINE.”

The Town of Gilbert has no problem citing and fining small businesses for violations of their sign code. Yet, the Town of Gilbert is incapable of using Park Rangers to cite and fine these lawbreakers?

Gilbert Promotional Corporation (GPC) has for many years asked for and received taxpayer dollars to support the November Gilbert Days Parade and Rodeo event. When the Council resisted giving them any money last year and suggested the GPC find more community support, the GPC president Chelle Bullard treated them to a “lecture” about how the Council owed them financial support, because Gilbert Days provides so much value to the community.

The Town Council became exasperated with the disorganized financial data being presented to them. So, at the conclusion of the 51-minute discussion on 10/21/2010, they called a second meeting on 10/26/2010, hoping the GPC would be better prepared to explain what their plans were, what it would cost, etc. (You really ought to look up that post and read the frustrated comments from the Council members. They didn’t mean to be funny, but they were a hoot!)

Here we are again. On 09/8/2011, the GPC, this time represented by the hapless Staff member Melanie Dykstra, came to the Council asking for direction regarding the GPC’s contract and costs. (Read between the lines: GPC wants tax dollar support again.) With the Rodeo grounds gone, the GPC wants to offer a Parade, plus some other events.

After a "lengthy" question and answer period, Council Member Cooper suggested that 2 other Council members join him in a separate meeting later in the week with Town staff to go over the details and costs, so the Council could make a decision at the next meeting. Eddie Cook suggested that the GPC consider a smaller scale eventn.

More meetings to come. Will the Council finally crack under the pressure?

Gilbert’s Constitution Week USA is recognized as the largest celebration in the United States of the Constitution. Two years ago, it was suggested that they should not ask for any tax dollars to support it.

The organizers of the event said: Ok. (In fact, they insist on paying for the event themselves and ask for no special treatment.)

So, it is 100% supported by private, voluntary donations from the community, not from tax dollars. On 9/8/2011, the Council took a nanosecond to approve the reimbursement contract for services provided by the Town.

Constitution Week USA is in its 10th year. It was co-founded by Mayor John Lewis, Bill Norton, and Barbara Stowell. Events include two weekly Scout Clinics which offer an opportunity for scouts to earn citizenship badges. Over 900 scouts from across the valley participate in each one. The celebration includes a “Miracle of America Concert,” the “Making of America Seminar,” and a Fair including replicas of the White House, US Capitol, Supreme Court Building, and other buildings. Dozens of youth participate through art and essay contests and performance activities. Volunteers dress up in period costumes. There is a rock star singer that the kids enjoy. The list of attractions is long and culminates in a fireworks display.

It is a very expensive event spanning a week, but it attracts hundreds of volunteers, sponsors, and donors who join together to make it successful. It reaches over 50,000 East Valley residents. Communities in Ohio and New Mexico have started their own Constitution Week celebration.

The Council approved an agreement for Interconnection with APS; and an Operating agreement with APS; and an implementation agreement among the Town of Gilbert, SPG Solar, Inc., and Gilbert Solar Facility.

Back in mid-2010, the Town was approached by SPG Solar, Inc., which offered to construct the Neely Solar Project at no up-front capital cost to Gilbert. Gilbert Solar Facility I is responsible for financing, operating, and maintaining the Neely project for 20 years after it is placed in operation. The benefit to Gilbert is that the power rates paid by Gilbert under the Solar Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA) are projected to reduce power costs at the Neely plant, provide a revenue source to the financing party, and pay for ongoing operation, service and replacement costs of the solar system. Cost of energy from the Neely Solar project should be less than the cost of energy from APS over a 20-year term.

The Council approved a Staff recommendation to stop using 4 different vendors, and go with one: Pacific Office Automation. This will save $100,000 annually. This is for copier, printer and scanner support, plus print shop and mailroom services. The Town spent $383,000 in FY 2010/2011. In FY2011/2012, they expect costs to not exceed $350,000 (including the purchase of two new copiers.) In FY2012/2013, they anticipate yearly costs to decrease to $276,000.


$198,500 Century Link (Qwest Communications) for local and long distance tele-communications carrier services.

$120,000 Bunney’s Inc. for utility adjustment services (manhole covers). Note: $87,000 is anticipated, but contract states “not to exceed $120,000.”

$91,511 Two solid waste wheel loaders.

$80,000 Asphalt crack sealing.

$97,7823+- Cooperative Purchase Contract with W. W. Grainger for service, repair, and operation supplies (safety products, tools, air filters, electrical supplies, etc.)

$480,290 Sonora Town water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. (Funded through a federal CDBG (Community Development Block Grant).

Council approved applying for and accepting the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety grant not to exceed $100,000 related to traffic enforcement, education, and DUI enforcement, overtime expenditures.

To read the Town of Gilbert’s full Minutes: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/minutes/default.cfm

To view the video of the 9/6 and 9/8 Study Session and Council Meeting: