Op Ed: Daniels, Lewis Speak Out for Gilbert Taxpayers

As elected leaders in the Town of Gilbert we feel a responsibility to the citizens of Gilbert to explain our rationale when it comes to our votes.  We voted “no” when it came to putting a permanent .25% tax increase dedicated to public safety before the voters because we believed then, and still do, that we have more work to be done, that government CAN become more efficient and because tax increases should only be used as a very last resort and only to provide essential services.

Much has been said about Proposition 406.  Here are the facts:

  1. This is a PERMANENT tax increase.  There is no sunset clause or expiration date.
  2. The tax increase, if passed, will put our town sales tax rate at 1.75% – it will include food but due to a recently passed state law, will not include construction tax.  The construction tax rate will remain at 1.5%.  (As a reference, Chandler’s is 1.5% and Mesa’s is 1.75%)
  3. The .25% is “dedicated” to public safety.  The first year projections of the tax would raise $5.1 million.  In a statement made by former Manager George Pettit, these will be the first dollars in the public safety budgets.  The remaining money needed to fund public safety at the current levels (approx. $55M) will need to come from the General Fund – the same fund used to pay for the majority of town operations.

We firmly believe that we can balance the ‘10-‘11 budget without a tax increase.  There are efficiencies to be found in Gilbert and the citizen’s budget committee, town staff and council members have spent countless hours finding those efficiencies.  A long list has been generated and we have a responsibility to the citizens to see those recommendations through – to properly vet them through the public process and to make decisions based on the best interest of the community as a whole.  We receive more value from our tax dollar in Gilbert than through any other government entity.  However, we cannot assume that we have exhausted all possibilities for better, more efficient ways of doing business.  There is work to be done and a tax increase is not the answer.  Make no mistake, funding our public safety departments is, and should always be, our first priority.

As stewards of your tax dollars, we feel a responsibility and obligation to validate the spending of each and every penny.  Until we have proven that all other options have been exhausted, we simply cannot ask you to reach into your pocket and provide the government with your hard-earned resources.  Government can do better.  The Town of Gilbert has a wonderful reputation in the valley for setting an example of properly using government funds. Let’s continue.

John Lewis, Mayor, Town of Gilbert
Jenn Daniels, Councilmember, Town of Gilbert


Comments

  1. Absolutely, there is no reason why Gilbert needs a tax increase.

  2. Danielle Calderone says

    I assume then that your plan to balance the budget is through further pay cuts for town employees. The same employees that have not had a merit or cola raise in 3 years and have seen their benefit costs raised.

    I’ve been a Gilbert resident for many years and have several good friends that work for the town. To cut their pay further after they have experienced an approximate 20% cut already in 3 years (5% merit X 3years, 3% cola X 2 years) with 3% more coming.. Is horrible.

    Good thing public safety can’t strike, huh….

  3. Stephen Kohut says

    The average salaried Glbert employee makes $81K/yr, that is more than the average manager/engineer in a manufacturing company. The average hourly Gilbert emloyee makes $51K/yr, that is more than a skilled CNC machinist.

    Since when does an employeer give 8% pay raises a year (5% merit + 3% COLA)? If what world do you like? Typical average pay raise budget in private industry for the last 3 years is less than 3%.

    Gilbert is sitting on $42M in cash of which $30M is unrestricted. They are also going to run a surplus this year. So, where is that need for more money to give more to already overpaid employees?

  4. Leo Hess says

    Mr Kohut,

    Can you please tell me where you found your figures for pay (Both Gilbert/CNC Machinist) and this surplus? Thank you

    Leo Hess

  5. Danielle Calderone says

    Overpaid employees???

    While I’m sure that a CNC machinist is a very skilled profession, I doubt that any of them will go to work today worried about being shot or hurt in a structure fire today… Or be responsible for pulling a child from a pool or a victim from a terrible car accident.

    Perhaps Mr. Kohut should try comparing like professions, then he would find that Gilbert Public Safety are the lowest paid departments of like cities in the entire southwestern region…. Educate yourself!! There is no surplus..

  6. Jim Smith says

    Shame on Jenn Daniels and Mayor Lewis for pushing their personal agendas, dividing the council as a team, and confusing the citizens about what is necessary to balance the budget long term.

  7. Lawrence Hill says

    I am responding to the conflick of interest concerning town mayor Lewis and council member Jenn Daniels. The mayor and all of the council members receive Wages, benifits packages (i.e. car allowances. perks)To what account are they paid from? The town employee’s volunteered to take a 3% cut to do our part to help with the budget. What have mayor Lewis and Jenn Daniels propose to give up??? Oh yeah 124 Gilbert Employee’s that consist of Police, Fire Fighters and several non management skilled workers. I wish I could go from a stay at home parent to a 40,000+ pay increase a year. Maybe I could trade off my 1990 Honda and start living the life of a town council member.

  8. Jacob Tarter says

    point 1:
    Mayor Lewis/ council member Daniels if you diddn’t like the way prop 206 was worded it was your responsibility as a governing official to speak up and do what the residents and employees who depend on you to do. Suggesting a sunset clause in the proposition does not nessisarily mean you support the tax increase, it simply means your doing your job to improove on somebody elses idea. Shame on you for fulfilling your duty to the best of your ability!
    point 2:
    As an employee we offered to give up 3% of our hard earned income that supports our families for the better of the town because we beleived in you to do the right thing. This was a good faith offer and was not intended to be a crutch for the Town to lean on. Boldly coming out against the increase may look good to the residents but to us as employees its a slap in the face to the ones who make this town great.

  9. Jo Blum says

    Where are they getting their salary figures? Did they account the town manager and the lawyers on staff? Firefighters do NOT make close to the salaries projected. Actually, if you go under “Personnel” on the Town of Gilbert website, you will see much LOWER numbers. People are barely making it.

  10. Doug Herbstsommer says

    I am concerned about both council woman Daniles AND mayor Lewis’s opinion on their “NO VOTE” for prop 406. we as employees that we could not influence voters with our opinion on a yes or a no vote. but these two have made their “OPINION” very clear to the citizens of the town…… what a conflict of interest WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

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