In a special board meeting on May 31st, GPS board members voted to support district recommendations for a street light improvement at Highland High School. The decision was split with 3 members voting in favor, 1 objection, and 1 abstention. Board member Shane Stapley was the only opposed citing concerns that final cost figures were still as yet unknown and preferring less expensive options to solve traffic issues and driver frustrations. The improvement project was originally proposed last year in June/July during the “Truth in Taxation” board meeting, in which a list of expenses was considered as reasons to increase the Adjacent Ways fund from $1.8M to $2.2M (a ~20% increase).
Last year many citizens expressed concerns to the board and district about increasing taxes during the prevailing economic conditions. District officials cited proposed increases of approximately $4 dollars per household on average, minimizing the overall impact individually. Adjacent Ways monies are typically used for improvements or areas where construction and ongoing development adjacent to district property occurs. However, many districts stretch the application (and perhaps the intent) of this fund to cover additional expenses. State legislators have commented as to the abuses of this fund and the intent lawfully provided for its uses. Certainly, a traffic light improvement is easily covered under the intent of this fund isn’t it? In short, Yes it is.
The question remains as to why such an extravegant expense is necessary for such a project. Details indicate an overall cost of ~$67K for the necessary equipment purchased at a discount from the Town of Gilbert. Estimates for work to be done outside of the traffic light specifics are ~$200K. This leaves a $400K question mark. At the May 26th meeting when final proposals were discussed, the amount to be approved was ~$517K. A week later, this number had grown to ~$668K. Just what is it that taxpayers are paying for? It seems apparent that at least three other board members are unconcerned with these details… so long as the term “student safety” can be applied, it appears there’s no end in sight for what amount of money won’t be approved.