Gilbert Citizens Join Together to Fight Down Another Tax Increase!

“It’s such a small increase,” is the mantra of those whose aim is to make you feel selfish and guilty if you oppose any tax increase. That’s what Dave Allison, Superintendent of Business Services of Gilbert Public Schools stated tonight, July 7, 2010, at the beginning of the discussion on the Primary Property Tax Levy. This was a meeting of the Governing Board of the Gilbert Unified School District.
There were about 20 Gilbert citizens on hand at the Gilbert Education Complex, who agreed on one thing: “No More New Taxes!” Many of them stood up to speak in opposition, and their message was clear: the recession is seriously affecting their businesses and lives, tax increases are being levied at all levels of government, the schools need to live within their means and find different, cheaper solutions to their problems. One citizen listed several examples of school’s enormous wastes of taxpayer dollars due to poor planning, or due to purchasing luxury items, while teachers had no basic supplies and equipment.
When everyone had spoken, the President of the Governing Board of the Gilbert Unified School District, Thad Stump, made a motion to approve the tax increase. His motion died for lack of a second. Another motion was made by a board member to live within their $1.8 million budget for their “Adjacent Ways” projects, and not go to the taxpayer for more money. This was seconded and it passed. Members Ms. E. J. Anderson and Dr. Adelaida Severson provided the motion and second.
Mr. Stump did not agree, and he stated, “We aren’t taxed enough for the services we receive!” One or two people in the audience agreed with him. Most did not. It was an incredible statement.
Some of our citizens offered excellent,cost-saving suggestions as alternatives to the more costly projects the Board thought were required. We citizens aren’t simply against taxes. We want the available tax dollars to be used as wisely as possible. There are so many state of the art organizational efficiency techniques that the public sector refuses to embrace.
There are two people who deserve the most credit for driving this successful effort. First is Shane Stapley, who refused to back down from this fight, even when I whined that we have so much else to do and I didn’t want to die on this hill. He forged ahead, spending a great amount of time and effort researching the intricacies and the ever shifting nature of our Primary and Secondary Property Tax system. He spoke eloquently and from cold hard facts.
Harry Mathews got on this issue early as well. Harry Mathews is the head of a new organization, the Education Action Committee, and his group is very concerned about every aspect of our educational system. There is a link to his website on the left side of Gilbert Watch, under LEARN MORE. Several members of his committee attended and spoke out.
There were many concerned Conservative leaders, business people and citizens who took the time to speak out in an effort to push back against another tax burden, no matter how small.
Eddie Cook also spoke, citing Prop 301, a tax increase “dedicated to education” that the voters approved in the year 2000 and which won’t expire until 2021. Eddie stated his concerns about how this money has been used. In most cases, the school districts did not spend the money in the classroom. It was diverted to transportation, special services, and the bureaucracy. (This information has been confirmed by State Auditor General Debbie Davenport in a Feb. 2010 report.)
After the meeting, Eddie showed me the Publicity Pamphlet for Prop 301. In it, then Governor Jane Dee Hull, stated, “A “YES” vote will ensure our schools can attract and retain quality teachers, as well as have smaller class sizes. This money will go directly to the classroom where it will help our kids; not one cent will be used for administration.”