Accountability Report on Town of Gilbert for May 5, 2020

By Cory Carpenter, Editor

Town of Gilbert Council Meeting May 5, 2020

Councilmember Yung Koprowski took her oath of office to support the Constitution of the United, the State Constitution, and the ordinances of the Town of Gilbert.

2021 Preliminary Budget just under $1 billion dollars ($992,839,910)

  • 82 additional FTE (full time equivalent) positions requested, including:
    • Volunteer and Community Resources Manager: $96K salary
    • Deputy Chief Employee Wellness: $100k salary
    • Recreation Specialist: $36k salary
    • Wellness Coordinator – LTA: $77k salary

  • Total Town positions/employees proposed for 2021 is 1,566.
  • It reflects a decrease of $77 million in capital improvement projects, an increase of $2 million in debt service payments, and an increase of $9 million for new personnel and operating requests.
  • Highlights
    • Miscellaneous Grants: $5.7m
    • New Ambulance Transport: $6.7m
    • Town expects to replace 16 patrol SUV at a cost of $55,500 each.
    • Town expects to replace 3 Tahoe SUVs for School Resource at $59,490 each.
    • The budget allocates for the purchase of 6 ambulance transports at a cost of $275,000 each.

2021 Preliminary Budget was approved with 5-2 vote. Councilmembers Aimee Yentes and Jared Taylor voted against it.

FY2021 Property Tax Levy proposed to be set at $25,880,000.

  • Represents a tax increase of $1.7m.
  • 5th year in a row there has been an increase in the property tax levy.
  • Maintains a tax rate of approximately $1 per $100 of assessed property value.
  • Used to pay debt service on bonds for the new public training facility, and transportation projects.

Property Tax Levy of $25,880,000 was approved with 5-2 vote. Councilmembers Aimee Yentes and Jared Taylor voted against it.

Notable quotes

“You do not raise spending [in the middle of recession]. We should respond in a serious way. We are increasing operations and maintenance by $9m dollars heading in to a fiscal cliff. $6.6m of that is for headcount. This is serious business. People are losing their jobs left and right. It is not a time to raise taxes, absolutely not. The best thing we could do is to give them their money back. That is the best direct way to help those in need. It’s equal, it’s fair.”   – Councilmember Jared Taylor

“There is contemplation of entering into a new line of service; ambulance service. We shouldn’t be voting on something that we haven’t vetted and approved.”   – Councilmember Jared Taylor

Raising spending doesn’t send “the right message to our residents” who are having to make hard decisions. Being sensitive to the sacrifices our community is making, I think we have to step up and also look to lead in making those sacrifices as well.”   – Councilmember Aimee Yentes

“I am just not really confident that that…[ambulance] line of service has been well vetted and so I have major concerns with that.”   – Councilmember Aimee Yentes

Gilbert Watch Evaluation

I applaud Councilmembers Jared Taylor and Aimee Yentes for taking into serious account the current state of the economy and the potential burden of additional taxes on the Town during an unprecedented economic crisis. Cutting taxes, or at least putting a hold on any increase in tax burden, is the right thing to do when so many residents have to do so themselves.

Notably, Mayor Jenn Daniels was very grounded and reasonable in her remarks supporting the budget. However, during this unprecedented crisis, I believe she and the other councilmembers who voted for the property tax levy and the proposed budget were misguided and out of touch with their constituency and the economic realities we are facing.