Gilbert has a long road to travel in regards to the budget in the coming years. Much of the reason behind our current situation can be attributed to unnecessary spending and over-reliance on the sales tax.
The sales tax has a very high volatility rate; and therefore, municipalities and/or states (including Arizona) have, as a result, witnessed severe boom-and-bust cycles in their revenue streams. This has led to severe deficits as our leaders continued to spend at the normal or higher rate as revenue systems began to collapse.
The current debate in our town has circled around the need to refrain from raising any taxes and cutting everything — or conversely, by raising taxes and cutting nothing. It is my hope that the debate will shift away from either political extreme by finding the middle ground and doing what is best for Gilbert.
I have come to the conclusion we should cut unnecessary spending in concert with raising the sales tax with a sunset provision of two years. Even with the increase we would still have one of lowest sales tax rates in the state. This increase would prove pivotal in making up lost ground in our revenue system for the short run.
Once the provision expires, it would be imperative to cut the sales tax and then spread the reliance across an array of revenues. The leveling off of revenue streams would prove essential in limiting the boom-and-bust cycle for long-term growth. All revenue generated via the sales tax should be used strictly for depleting the deficit and may not be used to fund any new programs.
Some unnecessary spending that should be thoroughly reviewed: Gilbert gave out $590,000 to charities just this year alone. It spends $292,000 on the newspaper “Your Town” (recently eliminated for fiscal year 2010-11). It subsidizes many special events, which add up to about an excess of $208,000.
I believe the donations for charities should be completely eliminated, as you and I should have the ability to decide which, what, and if any charities that we would like to donate to, not the government. “Your Town” is a newspaper that is supposed to provide transparency.
However, nobody reads the darn thing, and its discontinuation will save taxpayers a lot of money. And lastly, with special events, I feel they should not be subsidized, and they need to find ways to become self-sustaining through private contributions, not tax dollars.
These suggested cuts are only a fraction of possibilities that we could and have begun to explore. Just because the state is falling apart around us doesn’t mean Gilbert has to follow. We have now come to a crossroads that shall require the involvement of its citizens during its process.
In addition, every defining moment in our history has required strong leadership to overcome the adversities that had enveloped into our paths of direction. This leadership will not just come from the council but from the people of this community. No matter what position you have on Gilbert’s future, please get active in your community and participate in the debate!
Tyler Hudgins of Gilbert is an 18-year-old local political activist. He can be contacted at