The Town Council "created a monster," Mayor Vern Stiffler said Thursday after the council voted three to two to accept ownership of some eight miles of private dirt road that the town has maintained for years.
After the meeting, Town Manager Rich Underkofler said the liability associated with accepting responsibility for the roads and the costs of bringing them up to standard would undermine a number of other town projects, including the new police and fire department buildings and the library.
During the council's regular meeting Thursday, council members Jack Monschein, Ken Murphy and Barbara Brewer voted to budget $5,000 to study the regional costs for creating improvement districts and bringing them up to town standards.
The issue, which was intended to be a $200,000 budget item for the initiation and up-front engineering costs of various improvement districts for dirt roads, turned into a motion for something else entirely.
Underkofler told the council that the move would be "a very big fiscal note."
Stiffler and council member Hoby Herron voted against the motion. Council members Ray Schum and Jim Spencer were absent.
Monschein told the council that he refused to budget $200,000 for a study on improvement districts when he knew the people who would have to pay for the road improvements couldn't afford them.
"I don't think we have to spend $200,000 and waste our money to find out people don't want improvement districts," Murphy added.
A number of people in the audience from Sutton and Graham Ranch roads asked the council to have the town continue maintaining the roads as it has done for more than 17 years.
Town Attorney Sam Streichman, however, warned the council and those in the audience that state law prohibits the town from spending public money on a road that is not public and dedicated to the town.
Many of the people in the audience asked the council to just continue minimally maintaining the roads as the town has done in the past.
The council granted their request, but at a price that has not yet been determined.
Others in the crowded audience Thursday night were there to voice their opposition to a rezoning request for a subdivision on Chaparral Pines Drive.
Many of the opponents said they had horses on the two-acre parcels they purchased through the Payson III Land Exchange near the requested rezoning site.
They said they wanted to continue their way of life without getting complaints about their animals from their neighbors.
Opponent Janet Kraniak told the council that the issue was not just about her neighborhood. "It's about Payson and the way we want it to grow," she said.
The council went along with the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation and voted unanimously to deny the rezoning request.
"I think we did what the majority of people in the affected areas are ultimately going to want to do," Murphy said.
A little more than 8 percent -- 632 -- of the registered voters in town turned out for a special election Tuesday and approved franchises for APS and Energy West, Inc. The agreements must go before the people according to state law every 25 years, and can be re-evaluated after 10 years. The gas franchise got the nod with 93 percent of the vote and APS received approval on 95 percent of the ballots.