An Open Letter To Gilbert Town Council

Gilbert Town Hall

Dear Gilbert Town Council,

On May 5th, 2020 the Council voted 5-2 to approve the budget as proposed by staff. During the meeting, facts, figures, and graphs were displayed that provided an overview of the budget recommendations. I appreciate that you’re including data in your decision-making while these issues are under consideration. I hope you’ll consider the further information provided below.

Like you, I am absolutely in favor of paying down debt as quickly as possible. However, this is the wrong time to ride increasing property values up to higher secondary levy amounts. Of course, increased taxes also affect renters. So, while the levy is placed on the property and the owner pays it directly, that cost is passed on to renters in the form of increased rents.

Over 600,000 unemployment claims have been filed in Arizona since the beginning of the pandemic. Small business owners in Gilbert were forced to close their doors for several weeks.

Arizona’s unemployment rate has jumped from below 5% in January to over 12.5% today.

As you know, Mayor Daniels has hosted Zoom meetings, along with the Chamber, to disseminate information on assistance programs for small businesses. But, those funds are limited and they’re certainly no replacement for patronage from paying customers.

In light of the immense amount of job loss in the private sector, it’s completely inappropriate for the town to add more expenditures at a cost of over $6 million annually (i.e. 82 new staff positions, including severing the relationship with AMR to bring ambulance services in-house; pp. 424-425 Town of Gilbert Regular Mtg Agenda Packet; 5 May 2020).

The “checkpoints” and “levers” in the budget only allow for about 1/3 of the total new wage commitments to be walked back in the case that the economy takes a “large” dip.

Adding over $4 million dollars in new positions, regardless of what happens to the economy, while the private sector is struggling, is irresponsible.

It’s exactly this kind of move that causes residents to lament that their elected officials are “out of touch” and “tone deaf.”

Please vote no on the budget.

Government can be much more responsive and responsible to its citizens, and still meet its financial obligations.

Matt Nielsen
Gilbert resident & candidate for Mayor