Hayden-Winkleman Good Example Of Bad Spending


by Dan Adams


I understand that the Town of Payson's ad hoc committee on capital expenditure priorities outdid all national expectations, and voted (on various divided votes) to recommend some $5.5 million to be spent on street, and other improvement.

Since the implication is that these expenditures cannot wait until the town accumulates the needed cash, I assume that these recommendations will, at some point, be presented to the voters of Payson for a bond issue. If such is the case, the other end of the county has an example for voters to be thinking about.

I attended (a recent) Gila County supervisors meeting. One item that was approved was for Gila County to supervise an election on Nov. 6, 2001 for Globe Unified School District No. 1. The election is for a $3.6 million bond issue for school construction.

Among those in attendance was County Treasurer Priscilla Knuckey. Mrs. Knuckey cautioned all in attendance to remember what happened to Hayden-Winkleman School District No. 41. Her caution is well worth thinking about, for all bond issues.

In 1995, Hayden-Winkleman floated a school bond issue of $4.6 million. By the time the bonds are paid off in 2014, Hayden-Winkleman taxpayers will have paid a total of $19 million, nearly five times the original amount borrowed. Worse yet, due to mine closures, and people leaving the communities, the school tax rate has soared to $40 per $100 assessed valuation. Of course, this high tax rate has added to the exodus from the communities.

As a frame of reference, the Payson school tax rate is about $11 per $100.

The good news is that Hayden and Winkleman have solved any affordable housing problem they might have had. There are plenty of $40,000 houses for sale. The catch is, the tax bill on such a house is $2,000 per year.

I realize that it is difficult to envision such a disaster occurring in a rapidly growing town like Payson, The point is that the people in Hayden and Winkleman, six years ago, couldn't envision such a disaster. If they had seen it coming, they wouldn't have done it.

The next point for the voters of Payson to ponder: Is there anything that we need so badly, other than water, that we should pay a premium to secure too quickly?

Water, we do need, and we are going to need it before we get additional water. The town's own figures show that we start to permanently mine water next year, unless the weather pattern changes. My personal predication is, that in order to find and deliver enough water to take Payson to a population of 25,000, we will have to borrow somewhere between $15 million and $40 million over the next five years.

If the town does not quickly make firm commitments to securing adequate water, and the lengthy process of securing permission to bring it to town, the water shortage will be here before the additional water is. Thus, to put it mildly, will be a hindrance to selling houses, new or occupied in Payson.

If you accept the rationale that we need lots of money for water, I trust that all voters reading this will look skeptically at bonds for any other purpose. More importantly, I would suggest that the large number of registered voters who haven't been voting, become knowledgeable and start to protect their interests.

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