When was the last time you heard of government taking over a service and running it more efficiently than the private sector, and at a better value to the taxpayer? I can’t remember, either.
My wife and I live in Gilbert with our four children because it’s got a lot going for it: great people, food, entertainment, shopping, and parks. We have great neighbors and a nice neighborhood. For as different as we all are, everyone seems to appreciate the “small town feel” of Gilbert. In a town of over 260,000 people, that’s an accomplishment. There is a lot to love about Gilbert.
One thing that has begun to worry me, though, is the increasing willingness of our town’s elected officials to tax and spend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the Town of Gilbert fulfilling its duties to the residents. I am, however, against spending Gilbert citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars frivolously.
We’ve been reassured many times that Gilbert residents “get a great value” for their tax dollars. To be fair, most of the time that’s the case. Because that’s the case, Gilbert has become an attractive town for many new families. However, there are still too many examples of poor resource management at the Town. We can’t afford to continue down the current path, which is why we need a course correction. We need a mayor and councilmembers that are committed to small government. In the absence of that, we’ll get the opposite. Now is the time to make that decision.
Our elected officials need to be willing to ask difficult questions and make difficult decisions. They need to work with town staff to ensure that Gilbert residents actually are being served well. When we rely on people to measure and rate themselves, we often end up with meaningless metrics of effectiveness like “Number of YouTube Videos Produced Per Staff Member,” or the number of “Social Media Likes” on the Town’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Social media likes don’t improve the lives of residents, and there’s no way of telling that a “like” translates into a meaningful measure of utility. In other words, just because I liked the video as I passed by it on my way down the feed doesn’t mean I found the post useful. When government takes money from individuals, there should be a measurable value returned to residents.
At the May 5th regular Town Council meeting, 82 new positions with a $6.6 million price tag were proposed to by town staff. Among those 82 additional employees are a Volunteer and Community Resources Manager ($131,870/yr) and a Wellness Coordinator ($109,970/yr). At the June 16th meeting, the budget passed with a 5-2 vote.
Included in this same proposed increase are a full complement of positions to create a town-run ambulance service. Historically, the town has contracted with outside providers for this service. Now, it plans to spend nearly $2.2 million a year, just to staff the department (New Position Summary: PDF).
Residents of Gilbert have a choice to make in this election. Do you want local government to perform its proper functions and avoid unnecessary expenses? Do you want a mayor who will ensure that residents are provided with a valuable return for their taxes?
Thank you all for your support. Gilbert is a great town and we can keep it great!
To learn more, please visit votemattnielsen.com.