10/04/2010 Town Council Study Session Summary

Please note study sessions are for Council and Staff discussion only. This session was held in preparation for the 10/7/2010 Council meeting where actions and voting takes place.

Water Resources Administrator Kathy Rall provided an overview of Gilbert’s water needs through 2025. She considered all current sources of water, and noted that by 2025, we will need 1000 acre feet more than Gilbert will be able to supply. She clarified that most of the Town’s water serves residential needs. One acre foot equals 325,000 gallons and satisfies 2 families of 3-4 people for one year.

On October 7, the Council will consider securing new sources to meet the need. There are two agreements for water rights being considered, one is a revised lease with the San Carlos Tribe and another with the Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation for a long term storage credit transfer. Marc Skocypec clarified that new funding sources must come from System Development Fees. Other sources are funded from water operations.

Council Member Jenn Daniels questioned the building lease agreement to be used for a Fire Dept. Skills Center. Wes Kemp, Assistant Fire Chief, advised that they had looked at 15 different properties, and this one not only provides appropriate skill-based labs and training rooms, etc., but it is also virtually turnkey with little need for improvements to the site.

Council Member John Sentz asked how leasing this building compared to the IGA’s with other Towns for training. Chief Kemp advised there are 36 crews. Completing one training session required 36 trips. They calculated the cost in vehicles, gas, time, etc., and found it more cost effective doing it this way.

Council Member Abbott and Vice Mayor Les Presmyk questioned the total number of overtime hours, noting significantly more training hours in FY2008 than in FY2009 and FY2010. Chief Kemp explained that 2008 was an Academy year. He clarified that they are on target for required training hours for FY2010.

Ms. Daniels asked Jeff Kramer, Sr. Program Manager (Arcadis) about the coordination of road construction near Perry High School during the school year. Mr. Kramer stated that when the students return from Winter break, road construction will have begun and be ongoing through the Spring semester, with completion by Summer. They will coordinate with the Chandler School District to minimize impact. Council Member Daniels stressed the importance of minimizing several road construction projects in the same area.

Ms. Daniels asked for clarification regarding the 11/23 – 11/26 official call dates. Sue Roberts advised this information will be available at Thursday’s meeting.

Ms. Abbott expressed her concern to the Town attorney about the possibility that now that grocery stores offer alcohol sampling, will this extend in the future to places like Walgreens? Attorney Kelly stated, no, very specific and strict requirements apply and Walgreens doesn’t qualify. Also, there are very strict reporting requirements.
Ms. Daniels asked if they are required to check ID before providing a sample? Attorney advised yes.
Ms. Abbott asked if it is just wine? Attorney advised it is beer, wine and hard liquor.

Maria Cadavid, Senior Planner, provided a long presentation showing modifications to 97 acres relating to a development south of the southeast corner of Recker and Williams Field, as requested by the applicant, Paul Dugas of Pinnacle Ridge Holdings, LLC. By the end of her presentation, the issue of greatest concern appeared to hinge on the removal of 10-12 acres designated for a school. The Executive Director of Support Services for the Higley Unified School District advised that the estimated 400-500 students living in these homes were not enough to warrant a school. Rather, children would have to be absorbed into nearby schools, and additional buildings would need to be built. He was against the subdivision. Council Member Les Presmyk advised that the developers balk at additional fees to support the schools and other amenities, but tout the walking distance to schools and available open spaces. “The developer needs to provide support.”

Paul Dugas of Pinnacle Homes advised that they had been in negotiations with Higley School, but the school officials were using a 2004 Resolution which set the fee at $1k per home. The market and economy have changed. Pinnacle offered $500 per unit, but Higley rejected the offer. Mr. Dugas also stated that these homes were cluster homes designed for empty nesters, snowbirds, not families. Building is at a standstill. He didn’t think the Higley district was growing very much. The fee is based on what we and the buyers can afford.

Ms. Daniels disagreed stating that the cost of education has gone up. Higley has 50-100% growth every year. She asserted that other cluster homes nearby have children. If it isn’t a restricted community, you cannot refuse to sell to families. Also, she suggested that the developer simply passes the additional fee on to the home buyer. She was glad to pay the impact fee when she purchased her home in order to live in Gilbert.

The Town is proposing an annual business license to replace the current ordinance which is a registration every 3 years. The new ordinance will include home-based businesses for the first time. The new fee structure will result in an additional $160,000 revenue to the Town. Also, in the past 100% of the fee went to the Wastewater Division. In the new ordinance, 25% will go to Public Works, and 75% of the fee will go to Development Services. Mr. Greg Tilque, Development Services Director, explained that everyone should be registered now, but the Town will contact the Chamber of Commerce and the GSBA (Gilbert Small Business Alliance) to notify all businesses of the new requirement. (As an aside, the Council Communication indicates that the GSBA endorsed the changes. However, the GSBA did NOT endorse the changes.)

Gilbert Watch’s comment. Since the defeat of Prop 406 (a sales tax increase), the Council continues looking for revenue sources, not budget cuts. This is the trend at the State and Federal levels, too. What is interesting about charging home-based businesses is this: They are the epitome of the perfect “green business.” No impact on traffic congestion. No impact on wear and tear of the roads. No pollution. No need for additional police in traffic situations. No traffic accidents. Also, people in the home is a deterrent to burglars and an extra pair of eyes and ears. When the Town employees who work in the neighborhoods do this, they are applauded for reducing the need for police. Home-based businesses are merely a potential source of revenue to sustain the Town’s budget.

Arizona’s municipalities are in a panic that the State legislature, under pressure from the Home Builders Association, might cancel or greatly reduce the ability of towns and cities to assess SDF’s. Gilbert is very dependent on SDF’s to fund “steel and concrete” in addition to parks and recreation projects. Without this funding source, Gilbert will have to look to raising taxes, fees, etc., on residents and businesses. This item will be discussed on 10/7/2010.

Town Manager Collin Dewitt will be presenting information on an internal audit relating to the $42.7 million land deal. The position of Gilbert Watch is that this issue will NOT go away until Gilbert residents are provided with the results of a thorough, detailed, credible investigation. Was there an Appraisal Report? There are many people within the community who are determined to get to the bottom of it and get answers.

Ms. Abbott is concerned about the possibility that if this Proposition passes November 2 2010, it will present multiple challenges to the community. She suggested that Gilbert residents read up on Proposition 203, and also read the EV Tribune article from October 3,2010 titled, “State Health Chief Warns Cities, Counties to Zone for Medical Marijuana.”

For reference, you can read the Proposition by going to the Arizona Tea Party website http://arizonateaparty.com/2010propositions.html. Please vote NO on Prop 203.

Mark Horne, Waste Water Superintendent, advised that he and his staff have been seeking cheaper alternatives to current costly electricity. They discovered that a rebate through APS might be available to the Town, and after vetting several solar providers, began working, along with Severn Trent, with SBG Solar. SBG will do the construction of the solar panels, and if APS provides a credit, the Town will pay significantly less for 46% of its total electricity @ last year’s rate of 9 cents, locked in for 20 years, through a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement). The credit goes away if a decision isn’t made by 10/21/2010 and documents filed shortly thereafter. SPG works only with large projects, including the City of Tucson.

Mayor John Lewis identified a Town Council Committee made up of Vice Mayor Les Presmyk, Jenn Daniels, and John Sentz, to investigate further and get their questions answered.