Building a Strong Foundation

On Thursday night, I completed the first three months as Town Manager by addressing the Gilbert Town Council and sharing my vision for a strong foundation that will support our Town’s five Strategic Initiatives. We are already a strong and efficient government. My focus is on establishing a strong basis to support our future and take us even farther. As now the seventh largest community in Arizona and 97th in the nation, we have nearly doubled in size as a community in just one single decade, and have one-third of our community left to build. We have a bright future, but there are some steps we need to take now to ensure that we are all supported as the large complex organization that we are, as we move forward sustaining ourselves as the premier community in the nation.

The Town Council provided me with clear objectives for my first 90 days. Those centered around:

  • Familiarizing myself with the organization, community & region, through meeting key community leaders and understanding the current issues we face.
  • Addressing specific areas of improvement and need in our organization.

The Five Strategic Initiatives adopted by the Town Council are the basis for our decision making as we prioritize and plan our future. They feature areas that will lead to our long-term sustainability and success as a community:

  • Community Livability
  • Be a Technology Leader
  • Rolling 5-Year Balanced Financial Plan
  • Proactively Address Infrastructure Needs
  • Economic Development with a Primary Emphasis on Bio/Med-Life Sciences

During the past 90 days, Gilbert staff has taken some initial steps to provide further definition and identification of key projects that will help us achieve these goals, and will continue to do so on a regular and on-going basis.

Before I outline some of the improvements, it is important that we celebrate all of those accomplishments that we are already achieving that position us to be the best. We have so much to be proud of in Gilbert, accomplishments that we simply could not have achieved without a dedicated, hard working staff committed to being the best, and a community that truly values their Town and their neighbors. We have already accomplished many great achievements that cause us to stand out nationally;

  • We have been named a Most Livable City, and are regularly ranked as among the Best Places to Live in the nation by multiple organizations.
  • We also rank as the safest community in Arizona, and the 5th in the nation.
  • We are one of the best places to raise a child, as well as to retire.

The list just goes on, from our parks gaining national attention to our planning and design regularly highlighted.

So herein lies the challenge: How do we now take this nationally recognized community to the next level – recognized as the premier community in the state, the nation and even internationally. We have the leverage to achieve even greater things yet. Gilbert and this region have the great assets we need for success. The question is: How do we leverage and maximize those assets as we build out that final third of our community and develop our industry, creating a lasting and sustainable community that will always be Clean, Safe and Vibrant?

The starting point is obvious, and that is with our organization. We have achieved a lot. We are lean, hard working, talented and smart. Our staff is easily our best asset. It is key that we reinforce our internal structure.

Just as important is that we proactively engage our highly educated and engaged community – our businesses, and our residents, as we look to get to that next level. It is attainable. There is no maintenance mode in life, our choices are to move forward – or fall behind. Gilbert is ready to leap ahead, and the entire community will be part of this effort, involved in every step. We cannot do it without your support, and you will see our strong commitment to leading the way in operating in the most open and transparent environment.

A quote by William James has been my inspiration, and I hope will be yours, as we step forward on this mission: “Begin to be now, what you will be hereafter.”

A fundamental change you will see us roll out will be in our communications plan. Our new focus will be sending a strong message that we are an open, transparent and responsible government, and to do that we will need a new digital roadmap that pushes us forward as the leader in data sharing and proactive communications. That will also include efforts to engage the talents out in our community as well. I look forward to sharing more details with you as we move forward. Gilbert information and communications belong to us all, and we will make a strong statement to that effect.

There has been a strong focus on history during the past week, as we celebrated a visit by the Union Pacific Centennial Train, and then last night celebrate the Mayor’s History Awards; you can watch both at our State Centennial Celebration web page. It is a perfect theme as we move forward, and prepare to write the next chapter of a remarkable history.

~ Patrick Banger

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Welcome to the second Manager’s Update

This update kicks off a new feature, where I will tie in our Town’s five Strategic Initiatives to our efforts as I engage you on our current events. The five strategic initiatives approved by the Town Council guide our priorities as we look to our future as a premier community in the state. They focus on areas that hit close to home: community livability, being a technology leader, smart budgeting, strong infrastructure and economic development.

Strategic Initiative: Community Livability

As the parent of a seven year old, and two older daughters, I understand the importance of the community programs that we offer in our Town, and I wanted to start this update with some news about the success of our Fall Music and Halloween Festival held on Saturday, Oct. 29. Our families are our number one priority, and as the Town Manager, helping ensure you have places to go with your family that offer a safe atmosphere and a healthy outlet is a priority. This year we drew together about 8,000 of our residents for a fun and healthy time in Freestone Park. I also wanted to share a few photos of the highlights, which this year included a Stingray tank and aquarium, a pony ride, and even five children’s authors. In our effort to always make our successes bigger, this year we also sold discount tickets online for the first time, and expanded the hours significantly. We changed the entry and the parking to make it easy to arrive and join in on the fun. Thank you for being active in our Town, and if you attended please take a moment to answer our poll about what you thought of the changes.

Strategic Initiative: Proactively Address Infrastructure Needs

Infrastructure: Our Town has a remarkable character and infrastructure, particularly when you consider that we were the fourth fastest growing community, of more than 100,000 residents, in the nation last decade. Smart planning with a uniquely small staff to resident ratio is the heritage we live daily as we enjoy our quality and low cost lifestyle. Now it is time to plan for the next phase, to ensure that we maintain our beautiful character. Strong infrastructure planning is one of our five Strategic Initiatives, and we have a high-tech solution that also takes into account another Strategic Initiative to be a technology leader. The Infrastructure Assessment and Replacement Plan combines the efforts of our streets, water, wastewater and technology services staffs. The first phase of this comprehensive infrastructure replacement and repair plan will be complete by the end of this year, focusing on our water infrastructure. This plan is a tool that will help us to project what our infrastructure needs are. With this smart plan in place, you can expect Gilbert to be as beautiful 100 years from now, as it is today.

Strategic Initiative: Be a Technology Leader

Safe streets: In another effort to maintain our safety with a high tech approach, our Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety is on track to start early next year. The use of this less expensive and more sophisticated software will make our streets safer, and ensure that our public safety officers are deployed right where they are needed the most, when we need them most. Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dorn states it best: “Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) is a law enforcement operational model supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the United States Department of Justice. DDACTS expands upon the intelligence-led policing philosophy currently in use by the Gilbert Police Department by integrating location based crime data and traffic crash data to establish effective and efficient methods for deploying resources. Technology is utilized to identify areas that have high incidences of crime and traffic collisions. Traffic enforcement and patrol resources are then allocated into these areas to conduct high visibility traffic enforcement operations in order to detect and deter criminal activity and to reduce traffic collisions through increased citizen contacts. Citations, arrests and enforcement action is taken when criminal activity is identified or when hazardous traffic violations are observed. Positive citizen contacts are made for minor violations such as equipment violations, which will provide officers with an opportunity to provide citizens with information on how to report suspicious or known criminal activity. Partnership with the community is an important component of this program. The primary goal of DDACTS is to reduce traffic collisions and to identify persons who utilize vehicles and our roadways to facilitate criminal activity.

The application of high visibility traffic enforcement is a proven and effective countermeasure that addresses both crime and collisions. The reliance on technology and data provides a scientifically based method to deploy police resources while respecting the constitutional rights of our citizens.”

Thank you for staying actively engaged in our Town. We are committed to operating an open, transparent government that responds to your needs. Have a wonderful weekend.

~ Patrick Banger