“The approach that we take and the partnership that we have with our business community along with our schools and others ... will make a huge difference in the transition that we have when we are given, if you will, the green light,” Daniels said by phone.
Daniels said she does not have authority under Gov. Doug Ducey’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” order, which in effect through April 30, to reopen businesses. However, she said the town has preparations to make to be ready for that time so that the town can have “great outcomes.”
But Daniels pointed to a number of town financial practices as well as its history through the Great Recession as reasons to have hope for those outcomes.
“This community was the most prosperous community in the country as it related to economic recovery after the recession,” Daniels said, "and a lot of it had to do with smart financial planning and making some policy changes that gave us some of the tools that we would need in order to do that. I have no doubt that our business community, along with the town and individuals and families and schools, will all work in partnership again to see robust economic recovery from the town.”
Among the financial policies and indicators that Daniels pointed to were the town’s healthy repair and replacement funds; its aggressive debt early payoff plans; the presence of restricted and unrestricted reserve funds; and its relatively good position against neighboring communities in paying off its portion of the Public Safety Personnel Retirement system unfunded liability.
“All of these things tell us we need to continue to make wise and smart financial moves moving forward,” she said. “It's not going to be one thing.”
During the town’s financial retreat April 22, new Council Member Yung Koprowski asked staff if Gilbert would need to make cuts as neighboring communities have. Daniels deferred the question until later, as the town is still awaiting March sales tax data to know what the impact is.
Budget Director Kelly Pfost added in response, “Gilbert is very fiscally conservative, so we’re in good shape." She added that she was excited to share details with council as budget conversations start.
In speaking with Community Impact Newspaper, Daniels said the town’s efforts will not be much different than coming out of the Great Recession and will be transparent in its policies and efforts.
“We always want to be wise as taxpayers entrust us with those dollars,” she said. “It's going to be years of a collective wisdom, not one single act, that's going to make the biggest difference from a financial standpoint.”