The Gilbert Town Council gave final approval to its first billion-dollar budget and raised the property tax levy at its June 6 meeting.
Both measures passed on 5-2 votes with council members Jared Taylor and Aimee Yentes voting in dissent.
The budget authorizes spending up to its $1.05 billion limit, but officials said spending is expected to be far less than that, as it has been in past years. Much of that is because the town sets aside money to fully fund capital improvement projects, though only a portion of the money is spent on the projects, which often are stretched over multiple years, officials said.
Taylor said he would like a budget that gives the town’s citizens a clearer idea of what the town’s spending plan actually is.
Mayor Jenn Daniels said she could see a small amendment document to the budget giving such estimates of the spending. However, she reiterated that it would only be an estimate and that the town needs the flexibility to do things like pay down debt if an opportunity presents itself.
Taylor also renewed his concerns about spending and the possibility of a recession in the near future. He had outlined six points of concern with the budget when the preliminary budget was adopted last month. Yentes expressed similar concerns at both meetings.
Property tax levy
Those objections included the rising secondary property tax levy. Taylor said the increase comes from the Public Safety Training Facility and said the facility’s proponents had promised there would be no tax increase from the facility.
Daniels said the town was transparent about what would happen. Despite the increase in the levy, the tax rate remains $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation, but if a resident’s property value goes up, that resident’s property tax bill would go up with it.
“As Mayor said at last meeting, Gilbert is the only place where it’s a bad thing for your home to increase in value,” Council Member Brigette Peterson said. “I’m very thankful when my home increases in value. I realize that it’s going to affect my taxes by a dollar or two.”
Taylor moved to keep the levy at $22.3 million with Yentes seconding, but only those two voted for the motion, which failed. Vice Mayor Eddie Cook, with a second from Jordan Ray, then moved for the increase.