Look beyond the smoke: Council created Gilbert’s budget bind - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Look beyond the smoke: Council created Gilbert’s budget bind

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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 7:57 pm | Updated: 10:26 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Gilbert Town Council claims it is facing a fiscal quagmire. Its dilemma: How to raise capital for expenditures.

Although council members desperately want to raise taxes - which will go over like a lead balloon in these hard financial times - the council's latest hair-brained idea to raise revenue is to raise utility rates for sewer and water, over and above the annual rate increase handed out by Gilbert's utility monopoly. The Town Council figures the increase will be so slight it will be almost unnoticeable. Who are they kidding? It's amazing that they simply can't seem to figure out how else to raise revenue. The idea of cutting expenditures obviously doesn't enter into the picture.

The reality is that the Gilbert Town Council notoriously spends more than it takes in. A good example of its wasteful spending habits are those worthless, unenforceable, "Please Refrain from Smoking" signs posted in the town's park. Although relatively small in terms of dollars, the signs still weren't free (I'm actually curious what those signs did cost, and worse, if the expenditure ever went out for bid or was this purchase done on a good-ol'-boy handshake). Nonetheless, custom signs are more expensive than one might think.

And why did the council invest the town's hard-earned tax dollars in something that can't be enforced, something that offered no fiscal or economic benefit whatsoever? The only thing I can think of was to appease those few self-righteous good ol' boy crusaders who continually profess that they know what's best for you and I, regardless of our personal opinions. These are the same people who initially wanted cameras in the park to spy on would-be smoking violators and have them arrested, even jailed for daring to ignite those demon cancer sticks 200 yards from the nearest person. Bottom line: The effort to appease a select few by the Gilbert Town Council ended up harming everyone because these signs are nothing more than a waste of taxpayer's money. Period.

Another example of Gilbert Town Council's attempt to appease a select few was the wasteful, unnecessary and unaffordable Big League Dreams fiasco, which appears to be a money pit. This investment may pay off some day - then again, maybe not. Who knows? Nevertheless, something about this Big League Dreams venture stinks, and guess who will be left holding the bag? This investment was handled very badly. It was also not necessary because it was simply unaffordable.

It certainly seems our elected officials on the Gilbert Town Council truly have champagne taste on beer money. They've obviously forgotten that our wants are many, but our needs are few. This expensive so-called investment is now threatening the very well-being of Gilbert's necessary services, from utilities to library hours.

Since the notions of spending less and a balanced budget don't seem to figure in, maybe it's time we consider electing officials who profess fiscal responsibility backed up by proven business experience. It seems the citizens who reside in Gilbert have the right to expect better.

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Raymond Moers of Gilbert is a business owner and novelist.

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