Posts Tagged ‘Gilbert Council Proper Vote’

Captain Rick: Councilmember Victor Petersen says Gilbert Arizona’s new budget represents a decrease in government efficiency by spending more tax dollars per citizen. The Town Council recently adopted a $466 million budget for FY14 that included a massive increase in employee compensation due to a new over-inflated pay structure and addition of several new $80,000 to $100,000 positions. The $12 million (12%) increase in general fund spending results in a spike in general fund costs of an average of $39 for each of Gilbert’s estimated 233,000 citizens and presents a 6% decrease in government efficiency.

The spreadsheet Victor presents below demonstrates this spike in costs. As an engineer, I examined its calculations and confirm they are accurate. The slope of the incline for the coming year closely resembles the incline experienced during the three reckless spending years leading up to the stock market crash and ‘Great Recession’. Considering the anemic condition of our economy, with GDP growth well below what is considered healthy, this new spending spree concerns me greatly. We can not afford another year or two of addition reckless spending. I applaud Victor for bringing this important information to our attention. I believe cities across America and beyond will be interested in the data Victor presents.

Victor 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 Victor to present guest commentary on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL concerning his vote on this important fiscal event. He graciously accepted. I am honored to present …

Guest Commentary

by

Victor Petersen

Councilmember, Gilbert, Arizona

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The latest budget adoption represents a decrease in government efficiency in Gilbert. One of our strategic initiatives is "High Performing Government," which is a worthy goal but our council has settled for less performance by spending significantly more tax dollars per citizen than in years past.

It is especially troubling that the data suggests that we are heading off in the same direction that lead to the demand for a tax increase which is represented in this graph by the bubble from FY 06 to FY 10.

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This data shows that the amount we are spending for ongoing costs per citizen are increasing significantly. It’s troubling that it appears to be heading off in the same direction we saw before the big push for a sales tax increase. The simple fact is that where spending leads taxes must follow. I fear the direction that has been taken will require correction just like the data shows happened for the tax push years and correction was and is a painful process.

The bottom line is that instead of getting more efficient by making each tax dollar work harder we are actually seeing the opposite trend. I believe we owe it to ourselves and the taxpayers to improve in governmental efficiency and raise the bar we have set.

It must be recognized that most of this ongoing increase is due to the massive increase in compensation passed by the council. While some increase was merited Councilmember Taylor and I proposed a lesser increase which would have put total compensation more inline with the market and saved millions per year.

I am all for progress when it means replacing something good with something better, but I am a conservative when it’s proposed to replace what’s best with something less. I want to conserve the successes of the past and build on them for greater successes in the future. I believe in the right of our citizen’s to expect and even demand this and I believe in our staff’s ability to achieve it. We have set the bar here in Gilbert in government efficiency and we are the only ones who can raise it. We owe it to our citizens and to ourselves to do it.

Victor Petersen

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Gilbert Council Scorecard

Previous Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE Reports

Gilbert Town Council Reports

Gilbert Arizona Reports

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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 …

Guest Commentary

by

Jared Taylor

Councilmember, Gilbert, Arizona

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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.

Jared Taylor

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I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Gilbert Council Scorecard

Previous Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE Reports

Gilbert Town Council Reports

Gilbert Arizona Reports

Captain Rick: Our cities welcome federal grant money, thinking the federal government has an endless supply of money that can be spent on anything its heart desires. The fact is the U.S. general fund is bankrupt, spending $1.1 trillion more than revenue received. Most federal grant dollars dished out by HUD are dollars printed with red ink…that add directly to the U.S. National Debt. Its time local government says NO to spending this red ink.

Three Gilbert Arizona Councilmembers have come forward to set an example for America to follow by placing their vote of NO for receiving federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They are American pioneers. I hope other state and local representatives across America will pay attention to their lead and join the journey to save America form fiscal ruin.

The issue presented to the Gilbert, Arizona Town Council on April 4, 2013: Item 20: HUD Federal Grant of $748,764 for the benefit of low/medium income residents and to alleviate conditions of slum and blight, of which 20% ($149,753) is approved for administrative costs.

Councilmember statements presented during the meeting

image Jared Taylor

We have 16.8 trillion in national debt. Every day since Sep 28, 2007 we have added $3.86 billion to our national debt. The money for this appropriation doesn’t really exist. It may be something that congress passes on a bill, but the United States government is absolutely broke at the federal level. The local and state levels have constitutions and statutes that require us to have balanced budgets. The national government doesn’t and the are running massive deficits and so while they pass these allocations that say there is money available, it doesn’t exist. We are borrowing money from the Federal Reserve and its loaned money from China. That concerns me. What we are doing is putting a future burden on our children and that is not fair.

image Eddie Cook

The federal government doesn’t have the money. If we believe these are things we need to do, lets do it on our own dime…our own money. Taking federal money is just not the right decision at this point.

image Victor Petersen

Where we have power, we have responsibility. Tonight we have power over some of those funds. If we are going to participate in that federal spending, I don’t think it’s a good choice and I don’t think we can resolve ourselves of that responsibility. We need to temper our anxiety. If we do that I think we loose our moral position to complain about spending at the federal government.

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Captain Rick’s PROPER VOTE Award: I have awarded Councilmembers Petersen, Taylor and Cook for their ‘Proper Vote’ of ‘NO’. Their awards have been added to my Gilbert Council Scorecard:

Captain Rick’s Gilbert Council Scorecard: My scorecard keeps track of all of the ‘Proper Votes’ from previous important and controversial votes:  https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

I welcome your comments, likes, shares and following of my blog! (If not visible, click the red title above)

Info from previous reports:

Federal Grants: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/federal-grants/

U.S. Debt Crisis: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/u-s-debt-crisis/

Fiscal Cliff 101: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/fiscal-cliff-course-101/

Captain Rick: Gilbert, Arizona: 5 of 7 council members voted on March 7, 2013 to increase employee compensation by $12 million during the coming year…a cost of $60 for each of Gilbert’s 220,000 citizens. A recent market study conducted by a consulting firm stated that Gilbert employees are paid 2% below the private sector and 13% below the public sector in the Phoenix area. 5 council members voted to use an average of these percentages to raise employee salary mid-points to be 6.5% above the private sector. 2 council members voted to scale back the mid-point from 50% to 45%, effectively promoting a 1.5% increase above the private sector.

I found the employee compensation study remarkable, but not surprising, that it shows that Gilbert lags the public sector by 13% and the private sector by 2%, an 11 percentage point difference. It leads me to draw one of two conclusions. Either the public sector is overpaid by 11 percentage points or the public sector is 11 percentage points less productive. Based on my perception of the public sector over many decades, I suspect the reason is a combination of both. A 2% increase in Gilbert job scales to bring them equal to the 50th percentile of the private sector is justifiable. 2 council members offered a 1.5% premium on top of that. It was rejected by the other 5 members who voted for a 6.5% premium. In my opinion, they do not understand math or economics.

This legislation contained great improvements to the way Gilbert currently manages employee compensation. It is such a shame that 5 members of our council had to bastardize it by NOT listening to the common sense presented by the other 2. Gilbert should be a leader of efficiency, not a follower of inefficiency, which this vote provides. I hope that this post will help draw these 5 members back to reality to find a way to correct this gross travesty they have cast upon the citizens of my town of Gilbert, the place I have loved to call home for over 15 years.

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Captain Rick presents the first Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE award of 2013 to Victor Petersen and Jared Taylor for voting NO on this issue.

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Your PROPER VOTE has been registered on Captain Rick’s Gilbert Council Scorecard: https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

How much increase in pay can Gilbert employees expect?

Based on data from Gilbert’s 2012-2013 Budget (link below), if we divide the $11,900,000 expenditure approved by this vote, by 1201 Gilbert employees, the resultant is an average of 12.3% pay increase or $9,909 annually. The average Gilbert salary will be $90,748. That is one heck of a salary. I am wondering how many private sector employees make a salary as lucitive as this and if Gilbert has too many high paid ‘Chiefs’ and well paid ‘Indians’?

Gilbert’s 2012-2013 Budget: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/budget/pdf/2012-13%20BUDGET%20DOC%20-%20WEBfinal.pdf

Supporting data details:

General fund:

869.32 employees (page 66) at a cost of $74,059,895 (page 68).

$8,000,000 in pay increases, approved by this vote, results in an average 10.8% pay increase of $9203 annually.

Non general fund:

Enterprise: 238.93 positions (page 66) at a cost of $15,908,094 (page 150)

Streets: 51.3 positions (page 66) at a cost of $3,445,856 (page 200)

Internal service funds: 26 positions (page 66) at a cost of $1,685,730 (page 212)

Capital Projects: 5.75 positions (page 66) at a cost of $555,040 (page 240)

Special Revenue: 9.6 positions (page 66) at a cost of $1,434,000 (page 226)

Total Non-Gen: 331.58 positions (sum) at a cost of $23,028,720 personnel costs (sum)

$3,900,000 in pay increases, approved by this vote, results in an average 16.9% pay increase of $11,762 annually

Total costs: $74,059,895 (General fund) + $23,028,720 (Non-General funds) =  $97,088,615

Average salary with approved increase

$97,088,615 (Total costs) + $11,900,000 (approved increase) = $108,988,615  / 1201 employees = $90,748

Note: All financial figures include employer contributions to Social Security, retirement and healthcare.

Captain Rick: I am one of Gilbert Arizona’s ‘eagles’ who keep a close eye on our Town Council to help guide our great community in the proper direction. I love my town … the place I have called home for a long time. With a population of nearly a quarter million, one of America’s fastest growing cities, Gilbert is no longer the small town of 60,000 it was when I moved to Gilbert in 1997. Since then I have viewed every town council meeting to stay abreast of what is happening in Gilbert. That’s a lot of meetings, that required a lot of my time … time that I believe was well spent. In mid 2011, I began my “Proper Vote Scorecard” to keep track of how Gilbert council members vote on controversial issues. I consider a PROPER VOTE to be one that is truly in the best interest of Gilbert citizens … one that is fiscally responsible and free of politics and private agendas.

Gilbert Arizona Town Council: October 25, 2012: Item 34: Planning Commission Alternate Appointment

Several alternatives were presented to council which included:

a) appoint an alternate from the highest-ranking candidate

b) conduct interviews with the two next highest ranking candidates

c) conduct interviews with all seven applicants

Council Actions:

Council member John Sentz suggested selecting one of the lower scoring applicants of the seven applicants.

Council member Victor Petersen made a motion to select b). Council member Eddie Cook seconded.

A vote of 6/1 resulted:

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Council members casting the PROPER VOTE of YES:

Victor Petersen

Eddie Cook

Ben Cooper

Mayor John Lewis

Jordan Ray

Jenn Daniels

The above PROPER VOTES have been recorded on my ongoing …

PROPER VOTE SCORECARD: https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

Captain Rick: I love my town of Gilbert, Arizona, USA … the place I have called home for a long time. With a population of nearly a quarter million, one of America’s fastest growing cities, Gilbert is no longer the small town of 60,000 it was when I moved to Gilbert in 1997. Since then I have viewed every town council meeting to stay abreast of what is happening in Gilbert. That’s a lot of meetings, that required a lot of my time … time that I believe was well spent. I am one of Gilbert’s ‘eagles’ who keep a close eye on our Town Council to help guide our great community in the proper direction.

In mid 2011, I began my “Proper Vote Scorecard” to keep track of how Gilbert council members vote on controversial issues. I consider a PROPER VOTE to be one that is truly in the best interest of Gilbert citizens … one that is fiscally responsible and free of politics and private agendas.

In September 2012 I began reporting on each PROPER VOTE in separate blog entries. Many contain dialog with council members to gain their perspective to enhance citizen understanding.

Gilbert Arizona Town Council: October 4, 2012: Item 10: $15,000 to fund educational services for people in HOAs

CONTRACTconsider approval of Accountability Contract No. 2012-1003-0313 with the Leadership Centre in an amount not to exceed $15,000 in FY2013 related to providing educational services for persons living or providing homeowner association services in Gilbert, and authorize the Mayor to execute the required documents.

For those not familiar with the term ‘HOA’, it means ‘Home Owner Association’. Every new community established in Gilbert has an HOA, which is responsible for the upkeep of all parks and common grounds within the community, often including landscaping along the boulevards and its medians. All home owners in an HOA pay monthly dues to cover these expenses … me included.

Council members Victor Petersen and Eddie Cook voted against this measure. Based on council testimony, it appeared that they cast the PROPER VOTE, but I asked both to offer clarification so that my readers would understand why a vote of NO was proper. The following email conversation transpired:

Victor Petersen:  This item took me a long time to reason through. It was disturbing because I did find some valid complaints on the side of the HOAs claiming injustices imposed by the town. I had to acknowledge those injustices, but at the end of the day, I didn’t see that we were resolving them by subsidizing HOA leadership training. I suppose if the HOAs all came forward with an official agreement saying that in exchange for the Town of Gilbert supporting The Leadership Centre contract they would accept that as fully payment for other burdens we ask them to bear, that would be acceptable. However, that is not what we were contemplating, and I would guess they would never agree to such terms. The bottom line is that it is bad policy to accept abuse from a party because we believe we have abused them. It is good policy to stop the abuse. It is good policy to address each injustice directly. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and a vote to continue down this same path has does nothing to resolve these issues. In fact, all that has been accomplished is to perpetuate the injustices that are taking place.

Captain Rick: Your explanation helps a lot. I have a basic understanding of the injustices claimed by the HOAs that the town imposes, but I am not sure the public does. Could you add a couple of lines to summarize the main injustices and why or why not you agree with them…and/or anything that would help improve the publics understanding of the connection between the injustices and the Leadership Centre training?

Victor Petersen: The biggest injustice I have seen that the Town of Gilbert is perpetrating against the HOAs is the requirement for the HOAs to maintain the landscaping along the arterials (main roads) to a standard set by the Town. This standard is very high and very expensive. As I see it, this is really a hidden tax upon the citizens of Gilbert that live in HOAs. I believe we should either let the HOAs decide what amount of landscaping they are willing to maintain in that space or have the Town pay for the cost of the high standard of maintenance we are requiring. With power comes responsibility. If we want the power to dictate a high standard, we have the responsibility to pay for it. I am not sure everyone will appreciate the point I am making on this issue, but I do believe it is true to principle.

Victor’s words of explanation convinced me that the PROPER VOTE was NO. I did not receive a reply from Eddie Cook.

Victor Petersen and Eddie Cook have received credit for their PROPER VOTE on my Gilbert Council Scorecard: https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/

Gilbert, Arizona Council Meeting: September 6, 2012

Item 38: AGREEMENT – consider waiving the bidding requirements and approve Agreement No. 2012-1308-0072 with Share My Stamp for utility billing advertising for the period of September 10, 2012 through January 31, 2013, and authorize the Mayor to execute the required documents.

Item 40: POLICY NO. 2012-06consider approval of Council Policy No. 2012-06 related to utility billing advertising.

Councilmembers who cast the PROPER VOTE of NO:

 Victor Petersen

Captain Rick: After listening to council testimony, I asked Victor for clarification of his vote on this item.  His response:

Victor Petersen: On Item 40, I sincerely struggled. As I went through the list of items that would be prohibited from advertising, I realized that my preference would have been to allow firearms to advertise and disallow the others. However, I had to be honest with myself that if I were to do that I would be projecting my personal and even religious values on others through the use of the public power with which I have be entrusted. I felt that would be wrong. John Locke, who brought forward the concept of the basic individual rights of life, liberty and property, also said that “a man has property in himself.” In fact, this is the basis for all other property rights. If a man doesn’t own himself, how can he own anything else? If a man owns himself, he has the right to do with himself as he pleases. In short, it is not the proper role of government to protect us from ourselves. In fact, that would be a violation of our basic rights. In voting as I did on this item, I was trying my very best to honor the fact that each individual has property in his or herself, and that they would determine the kind of advertising they would receive through the exercise of that right in their purchasing choices. Also, I believe in free markets where we treat all businesses the same. Eliminating some businesses from being able to advertise is another example of government picking winners and losers.
Item 38 was simply the execution of Item 40, and I felt it was most consistent with my efforts on 40 to oppose 3

Captain Rick: I found Victor’s words to be on common ground with my principles. I beleive his words are also in the best interest of all citizens of the United States and of my town of Gilbert, Arizona.  I have awarded Victor with 1 PROPER VOTE for items 38 and 40 which are displayed on my Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE scorecard (link below).

The Gilbert Council PROPER VOTE Scorecard:

https://atridim.wordpress.com/gilbert-council-scorecard/