I begin this first Manager Update not long after my 60-day anniversary with the Town of Gilbert. I truly appreciate the welcome I have received from throughout this community. I have felt an instant connection to Gilbert, which is now officially my home. I am honored to have this opportunity to work for the community that I know is and will be the premier community in Arizona, and in the nation. ‘Gilbert is the place where we plan to retire one day . This is the community where my wife, Belinda, and I are raising our youngest daughter. Good government must be open and transparent.
We have a lot to be proud of in Gilbert.
First steps: Two of my first actions as Town Manager were strengthening our current budgeting process, and restructuring our economic development division to emphasize the importance of building a strong economy to sustain our quality of life, and maintain our great value. This is an important time in our growth and how we build our economy now will guide the kind of quality of life we have well into the future. I have reorganized our Economic Development Division to report directly to the Town Manager, and I will work closely with our four member staff to be strategic in planning for our future. It was also important to me to establish a new Gilbert-focused and needs-based annual budget that takes a transparent look at every dollar we spend each year to ensure we are operating as efficiently and responsibly as we can and attributing every dollar invested to a need. You can expect an open and transparent process as we move forward with preparing the next budget.
Saving: It is important to me to feature our Town’s ongoing efforts to save you money and to operate with the best practices and at utmost efficiency. Having a level of transparency through this update ensures to you that we always are looking for better ways to do things, and you will see what those are – a report card, in a sense. One recent success was a savings of $26.2 million from paying off two bond issues eight years early. Paying off our bonds early is a standard method for Gilbert to keep our total costs low on projects, and then have the ability to reinvest in additional important infrastructure. That kind of fiscal responsibility also recently earned us an increase in some of our credit ratings, which opens the door to even more savings and opportunities for smart investment in our community’s future.
Safety: I also want to keep you up to date on regular events that impact our community. Public safety is a top priority in our Town, and it is due to the diligence of our officials and our residents that we are regarded as among the safest communities in the entire nation.
Our Fire Department recently demonstrated the impact that our highly skilled team of 150 volunteers provides our community on a regular basis. Fifteen members of our Community Emergency Response, or CERT, team were called in to action to assist in a search for a missing child in Glendale. This is a great example of our commitment to support our entire region. We, in fact, just graduated the largest CERT class in our history, adding 40 new volunteers who are ready and eager to help their neighbors, from checking smoke detectors to helping during emergencies.
As we speak, Fire Station 10 is under construction near Guadalupe and McQueen roads. The station, when it opens in the summer of 2012, will not only support our goal to maintain the response times you expect when there is an emergency, but it will also stand out as an environmentally friendly Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design structure. One highlight, for instance, will be solar panels providing parking shade while they power the facility. We are committed to finding smart ways to support our environment as we cut down on utility expenses
Our Police Department Counseling Office also recently improved our services, by streamlining the process for recording case notes in such a way that eliminates the need for note taking and allows more time counseling and caring for our citizens. This improvement will also make the court process more seamless, making it easier to search and find information.
I appreciate you joining me for this first update, and I look forward to communicating with you on a regular basis. I encourage you to remain engaged in your Town.
~ Patrick Banger