Streets bonds package unlikely to go to voters until 2021

Gilbert street construction
Additional street bonds to fund Gilbert transportation projects likely will have to wait until the 2021 ballot at the earliest. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Additional street bonds to fund Gilbert transportation projects likely will have to wait until the 2021 ballot at the earliest. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

A $495 million street bonds package town officials anticipated putting before voters this fall likely will not appear before voters until the November 2021 ballot at staff’s recommendation.

That recommendation came at the town’s financial retreat April 16, a key budget planning event.

While the work in putting together a bonds package largely has been completed, staff made the recommendation because of the economic environment in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The retreat was cut short when WebEx, the web conferencing application the town uses to allow the public to attend the meetings virtually during the pandemic, went down over much of the West Coast. Without the application working, the town could not meet the requirements of the state’s open meetings law.

“We apologize to everyone that was on today,” Mayor Jenn Daniels said in her video message April 16. “We didn’t like it either. We wanted to go ahead and finish that retreat. It was going well, and we’re getting great information and updates, even though some of the decisions we have to make are difficult.”

The remainder of the meeting was postponed until 8 a.m. April 22.

In other presentations:

  • Police Chief Michael Soelberg presented proposals for a $16.3 million victims advocacy center and a $7.9 dispatch center expansion. The victims advocacy center would be place that could streamline the handlings of cases for victims so they are not directed into many different interview. The dispatch center, which would use existing space in the Public Safety building, would enable the town to keep pace with the growth in calls as the town grows.

  • Consultants and Town Parks and Recreation Director Robert Carmona reviewed long-term infrastructure needs as far as the next 80-100 years. Staff recommended increasing the general fund’s repair and replacement line while maintaining the repair and replacement lines in the water and wastewater funds.

  • Water Manager Andrew Jackson said substantial investment is required into the North Water Treatment Plant as the town has exhausted its “toolbox of operational and facility optimization strategies” to keep in compliance with safe drinking water standards. Jackson was in the middle of his presentation when WebEx conferencing crashed.

By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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