Strategic Initiative – Livability: Leading the Way

Leading the way

Strategic Initiative: Livability

We often hear about Gilbert leading the way.  Once again, we lead the region in new housing permits as we kick off 2012 with 149 new homes.  We are known as one of the best places to live, and one of the safest in the nation.  Our school children lead the way with their test scores, and our families lead the way in our efforts to attract new jobs, thanks to their highly skilled and educated workforce needs and strong character.  This should make you as proud as it does me.

Our Municipal Court

There are also ways we may lead the way behind the scenes, by sharing our knowledge and encouraging regional growth and supportive partnerships.  Our Gilbert Municipal Court is doing just that with a new regional 2012 Ethics Lab for Judicial Employees.  Court staff from here at home, to cities including Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Chandler and Mesa, are converging here to learn and review the Arizona Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees.  This is the kind of effort that makes a difference when you need an advocate the most, someone who acts with the highest level of ethical standards.  I thank our Presiding Judge John Hudson, and his staff of facilitators – Judge Nicole Laurin-Walker and Deputy Court Administrator Susan Holliefield, for being our regional role model and investing our judicial resources in assuring the highest standards, and education as a high priority.

I am going to take the judge’s lead, and theme my update along the lines of how we currently, and how we will continue to lead the way to the best service at the best value.  This update features our strategic initiative of livability.

Gilbert public libraries

Another way we lead the way is through our two public libraries, Southeast Regional and Perry Branch – which draw in more than 40 percent of all of the county library service.  Our public libraries are important to us, and we are being thorough as we review our next steps in operating our libraries, now that we are responsible for all of the operations.

We have acquired a consultant with significant experience in library operations, who is assisting us as we review results from our customer satisfaction survey, a business security survey and crime prevention analysis, as well as technical, financial and statistical analysis.  We expect to have an update presented to the Town Council at the March 23 meeting next month, during which time we can begin to work on our long-term operational plan for these important amenities that are widely used by our families.

Fire Department Response

Our Fire Department last week kicked off one of our four primary Wildly Important Goals, in their effort to lead the way in providing the very best service and response times.  They are setting new goals and challenges which won’t impact your customer service at all.  Their goals will increase their internal communications, so that, for instance, when they are finished with a call but still assisting family, they log in – making themselves available for a life-threatening emergency.  If they are on a call that is not a life-threatening emergency, they can log that as well, allowing the greatest need to get the care first.  Much of it is already done, but with a few upgrades and tweaks, our fire department will also be better able to track the true time they spend on individual calls as they continue to challenge themselves on giving you the best care when you need it most, where you need it most.

Community Needs

And this is where we join with our partner Gilbert Community Action Network, or Gilbert CAN, to ask for your help in leading the way as we plan for our community needs.  I encourage you to take our online survey and give us the direction we need to assure we are planning for the future and representing our true needs and constituent interests.  You can find the survey on our front page or here.

Celebrating History

As we move forward with exciting innovation, we must never leave our story behind.  As we enter this weekend celebrating Arizona’s Centennial with GilbertFest, a music and arts festival, we also watch as our Gilbert Leadership Class XX plans an historic downtown tour.  Our history is rich, and we should look back with pride, as we continue to build our history moving forward.

-Patrick Banger, Town Manager

Strategic Initiative – Be a Technology Leader: Digital Roadmap

This week, I wanted to introduce you to the digital products that we do currently offer as a Town, and that may help make your life easier.  It is important for us all to start to take advantage of the technology we do have, so we can better understand future needs as we focus in on hiring a Chief Digital Officer and moving ahead with a digital roadmap that will open up a new level of access to information.  The majority of today’s update features our Strategic Initiative to be a Technology Leader and support our high-quality Livability.

Public Safety:  All of our public safety branches are committed to using the smartest technology to provide the best service in areas that can have significant impact on our lives.  Our Court system uses Full Court Web to make information accessible.  Our prosecutor’s office has cut costs in staff time and improved our ability to resolve cases and is dedicated to continuing to improve the process and contact victims faster with their new software.  Our Fire Department is working on a system to allow us to track our needs based on real responses, and use digital reports that more quickly inform caregivers.  Our Police Department is looking at technology to ensure officers are where you need them, when you need them.  We are using technology to ensure we make the right decisions as we plan roadwork – building what we need first, when we need it first. Technology in general is building a stronger, more efficient Town.  While these important improvements may not be a service you can enroll in, you will as a resident appreciate the positive long-term impacts, in the form of better services, better value, to you.

The Clerk’s Office is a great example of cost cutting efficiencies that will make it easier for you to be informed.  Using OnBase software, they have digitized public information, making it easier to access and respond to requests on the same day.  They have also taken steps to end the mass printing of Town Council agendas and other reports, and instead provide digital uploads, saving trees and money.  We also now can search agendas as they post online, and more easily track the issues that impact us as individuals.

This is all an important foundation as we move forward with a vision of being a leader in communicating in high-tech but smart ways that truly allow you to be engaged and informed.  We are currently planning the interview process and will announce once a Chief Digital Officer has been hired.

Here are some other insights and ways that you can be engaged:

  • Pay and check your utility bills online.  It is efficient and saves the utility system on costs.
  • Report a variety of issues that impact your neighborhood easily at
  • Businesses who come in to our Planning and Development services division can soon give us immediate feedback using the QR code at the counter.
    • Our recycling experts also use QR codes on their materials, for easy access to our Website for information on what to recycle, and where.
    • If you have not downloaded our first mobile app, myGilbert, I would highly recommend it, for easy access to contacting officials and quickly and easily reporting almost any concern.

Strategic Initiative: Livability

We will be looking to our community for support, as we look to build a new level of service and become digital leaders.  If our past holds true, I have a lot of excitement about how this is going to work.  Our staff already works closely with volunteers on a regular basis, in areas that involve knowledge, trust and dedication.  Volunteers – our residents – are a key part of what makes us successful.

Volunteers help our Fire Department, including when our staff recently installed 90 car seats in January. Those seats were installed at a special event on January 21, as well as throughout the month, by parents who are smart to look to our experts who can help ensure your kids are traveling safely.

We recently began our latest Community Emergency Response Team program.  More than 90 volunteers dedicating every Tuesday and Wednesday for six consecutive weeks to learning how to be there for you in your time of need.  These CERT team members support the Town by helping out victims of a fire, even if it is just by being there, or providing much-needed transportation.  If we have a flood, they hand out sand bags.  We easily can provide more than $300,000 in value of service to our residents on an annual basis, due to the good deeds and ongoing efforts of these good Samaritans.

So I add, simply but importantly, a thank you.  Thank you to Gilbert staff. Thank you to Gilbert volunteers.  Thank you to constituents.  You are what makes Gilbert special, and provide those qualities that will allow our hard work and future success to truly make this a premier community in the nation.

With that, I must end on proper note, about:


January ended with a tribute to a local hero whose presence remains large in our community.  January 28 was a day that impacts our community every year.  This year on January 30, officers and staff gathered to remember and appreciate Lt. Eric Shuhandler.  On January 28, 2010, he was killed on a night that he also saved lives of people who may never know it.  He left behind two beautiful daughters, and a family who continues to love him.  His memory is spelled out in our Gilbert Historical Museum, as a special hero whose height matched his humor.

I never had the opportunity to meet Eric before I moved to Gilbert.  But I have seen the love and admiration, the true and forever impact this hero will have on our community.

To those who love him, Eric’s family and friends, coworkers, and to Eric:

Thank you.

-Patrick Banger, Town Manager