Gilbert Sales Tax Fact Sheet – Prop 406
Vote NO on 5/18/2010
1) Is a sales tax increase necessary to balance Gilbert’s budget?
No, according to Mayor John Lewis, Council member Jenn Daniels, and the Citizens Budget Committee’s Steering Committee. This committee was formed based on the recommendation of Council Member Linda Abbott. She and 3 other council members over-rode their recommendation and sent a sales tax increase to a vote on 5/18/2010.
Also, both Victor Petersen and Eddie Cook, Gilbert residents and professional business men, studied the Town’s budget over the last 11 fiscal years and discovered that the Town has repeatedly forecasted large deficits in each of those years, and yet the actual budget over that time period, ended up with a surplus in 8 of the years and a significantly smaller deficit in the other 3 years. Further, as of March 2010, the Town already has a surplus exceeding projections.
2) I thought the Council will have to lay off police and fire personnel if they don’t get the increase.
Public Safety is a community’s Number One Priority. Does it make sense to lay off public safety employees but continue funding nonessential services? It would be reckless and irresponsible for any Town Council member to vote to lay off critical fire and police protection and put the lives of Gilbert families at risk, in order to maintain recreational centers, recreational programs, the operation of 5 swimming pools, 2 libraries, contributions to charities, free concerts, free special events, and a myriad of other services. Go to the Town of Gilbert on this website and you will find 38 pages of non-essential services in “Leisure Pursuits.”
In fact email the 4 Council members who voted to send a “tax increase dedicated to Public Safety” and ask them: “If the tax increase fails, are you going to put the lives of Gilbert families at risk by laying off fire and police? Aren’t these positions your most critical responsibility? How can you, a council member whose Number One responsibility is to ensure the safety of Gilbert citizens, vote to retain non-essential services, and at the same time slash critical core services? I’m interested in knowing how you plan to vote.”
Here are their email addresses:
Mayor John Lewis and Council Member Jenn Daniels voted AGAINST the tax increase, and have gone on record stating they will vote NO to laying off vital Public Safety employees.
3) Does the Town have any money in reserve?
Yes, it has a total of $34,768,802 available to be utilized at the discretion of the Council. This includes $12.5 million in the Rainy day fund; $20,268,802 in a "Slush" fund; $2 million Projected Surplus for FY09-10. With a simple Majority vote, the Council can ensure that Public Safety remains at optimal service without a tax increase. (Now, which Council members would vote against that?)
4) Didn’t the Council vote on budget cuts that were recommended by the Citizens Budget Committees? Haven’t the budget cutting ideas made a difference in the budget?
Millions of dollars in savings have been voted on by the Council, and they would be making a difference right now, except that the Council has not put any of them into effect, and they don’t intend to do until 7/1/2010. If Public Safety positions are at risk, if Gilbert families’ lives are at risk, why didn’t the Council start right away implementing those cuts? Also, they haven’t even gone through the entire list of recommendations. That isn’t the only list of budget cutting ideas. The Employees made recommendations, some of which the Council voted to approve but have not implemented. There is a separate list from the Steering Committee. Also, the Council itself supposedly has its own list. Those have not been reviewed. For a partial list of budget cutting ideas that were presented to the Town Council by the Citizens Budget committee, go to www.clearuptheconfusion.com. Yet, 4 members of the Council: Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier, Les Presmyk, and John Sentz voted to send a tax increase to the Gilbert voters.
5) I heard that one of the Citizens Budget Committee recommendations was a 5% reduction in salary for Town employees, amounting to over $3 million in savings. Aren’t Gilbert town employees the lowest paid in the Valley? Maybe they shouldn’t get a pay cut.
They are not low paid when you compare their wages to Gilbert residents and business owners. According to Collin Dewitt, Gilbert’s Interim Town Manager, the annual mean salary for full-time salaried Gilbert Town employees is $81,600. The annual mean salary for full-time hourly employees is $51,430. These wages do NOT include the benefits package, overtime pay, part-time employees, or contract employees.
Do the above facts sound like “low paid”? The reason you hear they are “the lowest paid in the Valley,” is because all of the Valley’s municipalities compare themselves to each other. Thus, one municipality leverages off another, ratcheting up both salaries and benefits. See the article in Gilbert Watch (www.GilbertWatch.com) titled, “Gilbert Town Employees are Not Low Paid.”
6) What’s all this talk about “The Money’s There!” and “organizational and financial efficiency,” and San Diego County?
Jeff Niland, a member of the Steering Committee, has worked for 30 years for a large and extremely successful global corporation. His expertise is in finance and organizational efficiency. Using sophisticated efficiency tools, he has spent most of his career turning around organizations. He has carefully reviewed Gilbert’s budget and advised them that “the money is there,” and there is no need for a tax increase of any kind. Out of civic duty, he has offered his services free of charge to the Town of Gilbert. . Two members of the Council are very interested in utilizing Jeff’s assistance: Mayor John Lewis and Council Member Jenn Daniels. For more information, see Jeff Niland’s article, “The Money is There!” on Gilbert Watch.
Also, since Jeff first wrote this article, he has made contact with Janice Graham, Chief of Staff of the Chief Administrative Office of San Diego County, CA. He had heard about San Diego County’s incredible turn around from the brink of bankruptcy and a “junk” credit rating, to achieving an Excellent Credit rating, solid reserves, and recognition as the ‘best managed county in all of CA.” Jeff discovered that San Diego County began using many of the same efficiency tools that he has proposed to the Gilbert Town Council.
7) Then, why the tax increase?
Four council members want the additional tax revenue, in order to free up money to maintain their usual spending habits. Is it fair that we in the private sector must adjust our spending habits to meet our income, but the Town government should not? Is it fair that we in the private sector should be taxed at a higher level, when we can least afford it, in order to allow the Town to continue spending at their current level?
8) How will the tax increase affect businesses in Gilbert?
* This tax will take about $7 million out of the Gilbert economy (private sector residents and businesses) and hand it over to the Town.
* Your own cost of doing business will increase in the following ways: 1) Do you have a commercial lease? Your rent will increase because you pay a Transaction Privilege Tax. 2) Do you purchase parts, supplies, gasoline, and other products in Gilbert? Those costs will increase.
* Consider the reason the town’s revenues are down. It is because Gilbert’s private sector economy has suffered. Private Gilbert citizens have lost their jobs, Gilbert businesses have gone bankrupt, Gilbert residents have lost their homes. Yet, the Town of Gilbert views the recession as a situation that is hurting them. The worst thing they can do to struggling families is tax them. Do you think your customers will miraculously have more money to spend? Will they patronize your business, just like now, but pay more because of the tax increase?
No. Spending will go down. The Gilbert economy has not improved and taxing it more will only hurt.
Gilbert Sales Tax Fact Sheet – Prop 406