Gilbert didn’t skip a beat when COVID-19 came to town last March.
Although the town closed park amenities, canceled recreation programs and events and sent a majority of its employees home to work, service to the public continued unabated through a digital or virtual format.
In the early months of the pandemic, the mayor declared a state of emergency, Town Council enacted a 30-day mask mandate and utility cut-offs were temporarily suspended.
Even the town’s planned 100th-birthday celebration in July ended up as a bunch of online activities such as printing out three pages of “Gilbert Birthday” coloring pages.
But despite the statewide business lockdowns and job loss, Gilbert didn’t fare too badly.
It was ranked No. 2 in October among municipalities nationwide for being quickest to recover from the pandemic’s fallout.
And, with the $29.2 million Gilbert received in federal relief dollars, the town ended up dedicating 98 percent of it for local businesses and nonprofits. The Town was able to do so by using General Fund dollars freed up by Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money, which was restricted to spending on public safety costs.
The town is currently under a phased reopening of its facilities. In May, it launched Phase 1 with the reopening of recreational facilities, programs and events with restrictions.
Town Council and Planning Commission meetings are opened back up for the public but with a limited capacity while other minor board meetings are still virtual.
Phase 2 kicked off in June, where up to 25 percent of the remote workforce returned on site. The dates for Phase 3 and 4, have not been announced yet.
According to the town’s plan, the future work environment will include a hybrid of on-site and remote work in appropriate situations.