Gilbert Town Council rejected a reallocation of federal CARES Act dollars Dec. 15 through the town’s Community Development Block Grant program.
Staff proposed changes to the $150,000 the federal government gave to Gilbert to spend through the program after the town’s use of state AZCares money made the original allocation unnecessary. The funding was part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Instead, staff proposed giving $60,000 to the Meals on Wheels home-delivered meal program for Gilbert residents; $50,700 to the East Valley Men’s Center and La Mesita Family Homeless Shelter to sustain and adapt services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for town residents; and $39,300 for an emergency and minor home repair program to income-eligible residents to assist with health or safety-related home repairs.
The item was on council’s consent agenda, which groups routine items into one for quick passage. However, any council member can request an item be pulled from the consent agenda for separate discussion and vote.
In this case, Council Member Jared Taylor pulled the item and said he opposed it because it represented wasteful federal spending.
The vote was 3-3 with Aimee Yentes and Laurin Hendrix joining Taylor in dissent and Council Member Scott September absent.
As a result of the tie, Town Attorney Chris Payne told council the item was not be approved.
Town Manager Patrick Banger said staff would have to look at how to tweak the proposal to make it acceptable to council as the town must use the money it was granted.
He said the item also could come back from September returning to council or as newly elected Mayor Brigette Peterson joins council at its January 12 meeting. Either could ask for it to be added to the agenda for further consideration with possible changes. Taylor’s term as a council member will have expired at that point as well.
Taylor also pulled from the consent agenda an intergovernmental agreement with the Phoenix Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that spent $10,000 for the purchase of equipment and specialized training, though he said he supported the work. The item also failed on the same 3-3 vote, but it later passed 5-1 when Yentes moved to reconsider it separately. Taylor again voted in dissent.
The council also postponed a vote to allow spending $120,000 on a traffic study related to safety and congestion around schools at drop-off and pickup times. Yentes asked for the item’s removal from the consent agenda and questioned the timing with schools not always meeting in person and traffic generally down during the pandemic.
Separately from the consent agenda, council reversed a previous approval of a new town logo with a stylized G monogram on a 6-0 vote. Some community members and police and fire departments members had raised concerns about the monogram, and staff worked to make small changes that would make it more distinctly a G, which met with council approval.