Gilbert Town Council gives preliminary approval to $988.25 million budget

Laurin Hendrix
Gilbert Town Council Member Laurin Hendrix voices his opposition to the property tax levy at council's May 5 meeting. (Screen shot from GilbertLive.com)

Gilbert Town Council Member Laurin Hendrix voices his opposition to the property tax levy at council's May 5 meeting. (Screen shot from GilbertLive.com)

For the second consecutive year, Gilbert Town Council is heading toward a budget that is smaller than the previous year.

The council gave preliminary approval May 4 to a $988.25 million budget for fiscal year 2021-22, about $4.59 million less than this year’s budget.

Council also passed a levy of $27.75 million, an increase from $25.88 million this fiscal year, which covers the debt service on the town’s voter-approved bonds. It maintains the town’s secondary property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 of assessed valuation.

Both the budget and levy passed on 5-2 votes with Council Members Aimee Yentes and Laurin Hendrix voting in dissent.

A vote on final approval is scheduled for June 1.


Yentes expressed concern about some of the expenditures in the budget, particularly the hiring of 46 new positions, though some council members said some of the positions are catching up from a hiring freeze the town put on during the pandemic.

Yentes said the business case for some positions was good but that the town also should be looking for opportunities to pick up efficiencies and reduce staff where possible.

More disagreement came from the increase in the property tax levy. As in previous years, the council divided on the significance of the levy increasing while the rate stayed flat.

Hendrix said he was not opposed to taxes because they pay for things he wants in the community but said it was deceitful spin to say that because the town did not raise the tax rate, it did not raise taxes.

“We raised the taxes,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with it at all. Just tell the taxpayers, ‘We raised the taxes, and we efficiently used your money,’ and then just be straight up about it.”

However, Hendrix indicated he philosophically disagreed with the town’s approach to budgeting and said what the town painted as efficiency in paying down debt early was actually an indication that the town is overtaxing its residents.

Mayor Brigette Peterson countered by displaying her own tax bill, showing the portion going to the town of Gilbert went up about $8 from the previous year and, from the bill, that the amount of taxes levied by Gilbert Town Council was zero. That is because Gilbert has no primary property tax and that the secondary property tax is only levied on voter approval to cover debt to which they agreed.

Peterson also alluded to a Hendrix statement about the Boston Tea Party not being about taxes but a protest about being levied taxes without representation.

“The levy we were talking about tonight is exactly what council member Hendrix said happened at the tea party in Boston, which is the voters are voting for the taxes that they pay for,” she said “And that's exactly what our secondary property tax does.”

Yentes said council must respect what the voters approve but that she would like to see the tax reduced and some of the debt backfilled from the general fund, most of which comes from the town sales tax.

Council Member Scott Anderson said he twists every year to understand where council members are coming from on the rate vs. levy question.

“I think if we survey the taxpayer, they would demand that we offer the services as well or better than what we're offering now,” he said. “And we certainly can't do that if we are not able to pay off the debt that funds that quality of life that we enjoy.”

In other actions, council passed the town’s capital improvement plan for 2022-31 on a 6-1 vote with Yentes dissenting. Yentes said she supports most of the plan but has questions on portions and that because the plan further is tied up with the budget and the levy, she could not vote in support.
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.


MOST RECENT

Randy Nelson
Gilbert Town Council approves Santan Adventure Park with stipulations

A developer cleared a final hurdle to build Santan Adventure Park at a site off Gilbert’s Crossroads Regional Park, but neighbors earned some concessions in the final vote.

See a breakdown of COVID-19 cases, vaccinations and more local data. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19 cases down, vaccinations up across Gilbert

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 31,381 COVID-19 cases overall in Gilbert's six ZIP codes June 13.

Here are the coronavirus hospitalization data updates to know across Arizona. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19-related hospitalizations continue to remain low across Arizona

Take a look at the hospitalization data across Arizona.

In the last week, Maricopa County residents received about 10,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine per day, according to the county. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
50% of Maricopa County residents age 10 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose

In the last week, about 10,000 Maricopa County residents received doses of COVID-19 vaccine per day, according to the county.

Goldfish Swim School anticipates opening June 15 in Gilbert. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
3 businesses coming soon to Gilbert; Higley USD puts bond on ballot and more top area news

Read the latest business and community news from the past week from the Gilbert and Chandler areas.

The proposed $95 million bond places an emphasis on funding technology and safety and security, district officials said. (Courtesy Higley USD)
Higley USD taking bond question to voters

The proposed $95 million bond places an emphasis on funding technology and safety and security, district officials said.

Between January and April, the Maricopa County Assessor's Office reported 19,232 permits for home construction work, according to the county. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Home construction projects on the rise across Maricopa County

Home construction permits are seeing a sharp increase across Maricopa County, according to data from the Maricopa County Assessor's Office.

As of June 7, 6,016,915 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to 3,385,174 individuals, including 2,884,332 who are now fully vaccinated. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
ADHS: Nearly 3 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19

More than 3.4 million Arizonans have receieved at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to ADHS.

Picazzo's Healthy Italian Kitchen will open June 3 in Gilbert. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Picazzo's restaurant opens in Gilbert; Chandler council calls for bond election and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Gilbert and Chandler areas.

Four business changes at SanTan Village

Here are four business changes at SanTan Village shopping center in Gilbert.

Cafe Rio
Cafe Rio Mexican Grill opens on Power Road in Gilbert

The restaurant serves made-from-scratch Mexican food with fresh ingredients.

Gilbert Water Tower
Gilbert collecting items to battle summer heat

The efforts are specifically aimed at helping homeless, young and elderly people who are at increased risk from the heat.