Recently Gilbert Town staff proposed a utility rate hike for 2023. Information from the Town claims that you will only pay another $2.15/month for environmental compliance and $8.02/month for wastewater (sewer). For the average Gilbert household, this equates to $122.04 annually.
What is the Town not disclosing?
While the Town and the proponents of these rate increases will claim “this is only the cost of a cup of coffee” and “it’s not that much,” let’s think about the actual impact of these rate hikes on you–the average hard-working taxpayer. Not only will you be paying another $122/yr for your own utility services you will also be paying higher costs for products and services in Gilbert, HOA fees, school district taxes, and other entities that are subject to the same rate hikes. These institutions will surely be passing these increase on to their customers. In the end, the Gilbert taxpayer will probably end up paying $200 to $300 more per year depending on where they are working, shopping, and living.
Are these increases necessary?
While other cities and towns in Arizona use utility bills as a profit center, the Town of Gilbert has a policy to simply cover it’s expenses. This is a reasonable approach, but it assumes the Town is running the most efficient operation possible. Here’s where things go wrong. Town leadership constantly talks about how efficient they are, but there is no serious efforts within the Town to drive efficiency and avoid these types of increases. Instead, the Town government is constantly increasing headcount, gold-plating its buildings, and don’t forget their massive pay increases and above-market compensation packages. Oh, and remember Mayor Brigette Peterson pushing for taxpayer-funded sex change surgeries?
A few years ago, Former Councilman Victor Petersen showed–with the Town’s own data–how they are less and less efficient each year in water production. As normal for the Town of Gilbert and governments in general, the solution to every problem is to add headcount or other wasteful programs. The solution to cost pressure is never to improve efficiency or cut spending like the average citizen or private business operator.
Former Councilmembers like Jared Taylor and Aimee Yentes have asked the Town many times to take efficiency seriously, but these requests were categorically ignored. Serious efforts to drive efficiency or revaluation of outdated services like recycling would most likely avoid the cost increases and the wasteful wealth transfer it is from citizens to government. In other words, these increases are most likely not necessary with better leadership on the Council and within the Town.
Economies of Scale – AWOL
The private sector benefits from the principle of Economies of Scale. Meaning when a business serves more people, they are able to bring the costs down due to things like volume discounts on their materials. For some strange reason, taxpayers never see the same benefit from the public sector–local governments, school districts, state agencies, etc.. The larger the government, the more expensive its services become.
This is largely due to another principal called OPM–Other People’s Money. Public sector employees work 100 percent of the time with other people’s money. They produce nothing new in the economy as their role is largely to be the referee, not a player in the economy. When people use other’s money, they treat that money differently and less carefully than if it was their own. It’s axiomatic.
For example, last year Gilbert residents had a rate increase for trash service pick up. While other cities and towns in the US revisited their cost structure and service model due to the massive loss of recycling revenue, Gilbert simply passed the increased costs to the rate payer without a serious evaluation of the now defunct recycling market.
What can be done?
If you like paying higher taxes and costs, do nothing. The track record of the Gilbert Town Council for the last 30+ years is to simply rubber stamp anything that come from Town Staff. If you don’t like paying more than necessary for Town services, you must email or call members of the Gilbert Town Council and let them know you oppose these rate increases. Let them know that cost savings measures should be their first priority, not their last priority and that wrong-headed proposals like this are not acceptable in Gilbert. You may also attend the next information session or attend a Town Council meeting and share your views on the rate hikes. As always, be civil, but clear on where you stand and that you are a voter in the Town elections.