Northern Gila County Deserves More

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by David Colby, Payson

Judge Duber, in his column in the Dec. 11, 2001 Roundup, admits that, "as the presiding judge for Gila County, I am responsible for allocation of judicial resources." He states, "I think Payson receives more than a fair allocation of resources and heard no facts from which to conclude otherwise."

There you have it. If the judicial resources are fairly allocated between north and south, give Judge Duber the credit. If you believe resources are unfairly skewed to the south, you now know who to hold accountable. And, if you would like more facts before you make an intelligent decision on such an important question, you now know who to ask.

Just what are the facts? Look at the total real and personal property taxes collected county-wide in the most recent calendar year. Who pays a higher percentage of the taxes, Northern Gila County or Globe-Miami? And, in the next five years, what do you suppose the trend to be? The scale tilts heavily toward Northern Gila County.

Examine the number of new civil case filings in Gila County Superior Court. Do you suppose more civil cases are filed by Northern Gila County or Globe-Miami? And, in the next five years, what do you suppose the trend to be? Stated differently, as Northern Gila County grows expect it to use more of the total court resources.

Examine the number of new criminal case filings in Gila County Superior Court. Do you suppose more criminal/juvenile wrongdoings are committed in Northern Gila County or in Globe-Miami? And, in the next five years, as Northern Gila County grows, what do you suppose the trend to be? Unfortunately population increases in Northern Gila county will bring increased adult crime and juvenile behavior.

In the next five years, as Northern Gila County uses even more court resources, do you suppose the jury pool will be growing more in the north or in Globe-Miami? Going forward expect Northern Gila County residents to be disproportionately called upon to decide civil and criminal cases.

Lastly, examine the total budget allocated to the Superior Court and the Judiciary of Gila County. Who do you suppose receives the higher percentage of the resources, Northern Gila County or Globe-Miami? This one is not even close, and according to Judge Duber, we evidently get more than we deserve. With Judge Duber at the helm, the trend for more resources to Northern Gila County does not look promising.

Increased services to Northern Gila County is not tantamount to increased taxes. In many ways, the existing resource pie can simply be recut to allocate more of existing budget resources to increase services in Northern Gila county. It increases no taxes, but merely shifts existing resources north. Those threatened with job loss in Globe can be given the option to move to Payson and provide the same services in proximity to the residents generating and paying for the services needed.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretsky was once asked what made him different. He stated that while most players skate to where the puck is; he skated to where the puck was going to be. Even if you're not a hockey fan, the analogy holds. Our elected officials must be forward looking, envisioning the future and anticipating trends. They are obligated to make policy not based just on what is or rather what use to be but on what is going to be. They should be out in front, not playing catch-up. But, we will never see a new and better future together as a community until we first are willing to openly discuss the matters. And we should be entitled to discuss the matters without fear of reprisal, retribution or character assassination.

Judge Duber's statement that he is "responsible for allocation of judicial resources" is a partial truth. The whole truth is that he is an official elected to serve the needs of all of Gila County, and that ultimately the voters of Gila County, not their elected officials, decide the allocation of resources.

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