The resolution for the election, scheduled for Nov. 2 but to be conducted through the mail, passed on a 5-2 vote with Council Members Aimee Yentes and Laurin Hendrix voting in dissent.
The approximately 40 projects that would be paid for by the bond address five areas:
- safety and congestion;
- transportation technology;
- reconstruction to address growth and the traffic system’s decay;
- transportation-related projects from the Heritage District’s redevelopment plan; and
- multimodal investments for transportation alternatives.
Championing the proposal from the dais was Vice Mayor Yung Koprowski, a transportation engineer who sat on the citizens transportation task force that studied the issue before she was appointed to council last year.
Koprowski noted the importance of the projects to the town’s transportation system and said the town has no other way to pay for them than bonds. Gilbert does not have a dedicated transportation sales tax.
Yentes said she largely supported the projects in the package and felt bonds were appropriate to fund the transportation projects.
She broke her objections down to three parts. She said she would like to see a cleaner transportation package without parks and recreation infrastructure projects and would prefer the bond question to be parsed out over a few intermittent bond questions for transparency and strategic timing. She said doing so would help “wrangle in” debt capacity.
Yentes also questioned the timing of the bond election being in an off-cycle year for elections. She said she recognized the COVID-19 pandemic affected the timing but would still prefer to hold the election during a normal election year.
However, most of her fellow council members also pointed to COVID-19 being the reason for the timing and while expressing a preference to have such an election in a normal election year, the urgency of the projects was too great to wait longer.
Mayor Brigette Peterson also noted that previous street bonds from the early 2000s were broken up into separate questions over a few years because of the town’s smaller bonding capacity. Peterson said she believed having one question actually added transparency to the question and that the bonds would still be issued strategically over a course of time, rather than at once.