Captain Rick: Councilmember Jared Taylor says Gilbert, Arizona missed a great opportunity to continue a course of fiscal responsibility when the Council adopted the $466 million budget for FY14 that included the addition of several new $80,000 to $100,000 positions with no value added for the town’s 230,000 citizens.
Jared was one of two councilmembers that voted ‘NO’ … against adoption of the budget as presented. This has earned him Captain Rick’s “PROPER VOTE” on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL’s “Gilbert Council Scorecard”, which keeps track of how Gilbert Councilmembers vote on important, controversial issues.
I invited Jared to present guest commentary on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL concerning his vote on this important fiscal event. He graciously accepted. I am honored to present …
Councilmember, Gilbert, Arizona
The Town budget discussion for 2014 was a great opportunity to continue a course of fiscal responsibility. The budget represents many things, particularly the priorities of an organization.
As I looked at the budget proposals for fiscal year 2014 (FY14), many positive things were included to build a safer cleaner community. However, there were also areas of concern which made the Town government less efficient and less valuable to our citizens. For example, Town Staff recommended a number of administrative positions that cost approximately $80,000-$100,000 annually for each position. These positions would add no direct value to the lives of our citizens.
The larger concern of this budget for me was the increased burden it places on each citizen without increasing the value of the Town services to each citizen. In other words, we are not getting new parks or services although we are paying more for what we get. This increased rate of spending outpaced inflation at a rate which created multi-million dollar deficits.
The recommendation to have the budget follow the rate of inflation was based on the wise advice by Councilmember Jenn Daniels to create a policy to guide this and future budgets. This policy would avoid Council from going through the details of the budget, but would give the Town Manager the direction and flexibility to manage the Town within responsible limits.
The primary argument to increase spending was to fully fund what is known as WIGs. (A.k.a. Wildly Important Goals) One of the major outcomes for the WIGs is for the Town to be more operationally efficient. Unfortunately, we are not becoming more efficient with this budget, but less efficient. Other concerns were presented that we are not able to find enough money to cut although those were quickly addressed.
In the end, a budget with too much spending was passed by a 5-2 vote. Further, this budget was not based on an agreed upon policy or a serious cost containment strategy. The FY14 budget’s rate of growth outpaces inflation and puts us on a path to run a deficit in 1-2 years. Any uptick in sales tax revenues will mask this for a few years, but when another downturn hits, we’ll be forced to make a decision to raise taxes or make drastic cuts again. The recommendation to follow the rate of inflation more effectively controls our spending and is more aligned with other costs hard-working taxpayers are facing day-to-day.
I’m committed to a small and efficient Town government. Our staff aspires to be a “high-performing government” on paper, but unfortunately doesn’t consistently follow high-performing practices of other organizations. We can do better and I’m looking forward to working with them more to understand ways to stay focused on adding value to our citizen’s lives.
Government should not be a jobs program. Government exists to protect individual rights. As Abraham Lincoln said 150 years ago, government should be “of the people, by the people, for the people” and our budgets should reflect this commitment. I will continue to work to make it so in Gilbert.
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