Mayor Seeks Council Ok Of Redistricting Proposal

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Payson Mayor Ray Schum will take his plan to have the Gila County supervisor districts redrawn before the town council Thursday evening at 6 p.m.

The mayor said that his plan, one of three finalists chosen by the redistricting committee, is the only one that will provide Payson and the Rim country with the representation it deserves based on dramatic population growth in the northern half of Gila County over the past decade.

"I'll be making a presentation with my charts and maps that will make my case very clear," Schum said.

The other two plans, and a fourth plan recently brought before the committee, would split Payson into two separate districts or otherwise dilute the Rim country's voting strength. The mayor's plan would create two "urbanized" districts the Payson and Globe areas and a third rural district made up of the rest of the county.

Schum, who has six presentations scheduled before various groups and organizations over the next few weeks, said he plans to pursue his cause vigorously but fairly.

"I will choose my words very wisely," he said. "I don't intend to find fault. I'm not going to say that the southern end of the county has got this thing loaded up against us."

Schum said he is confident the resolution endorsing his plan will be passed by the council unanimously. That resolution emphasizes that the mayor's plan "adheres to the major principles for redistricting," including keeping "cities, towns, school districts and other governmental jurisdictions whole within a district."

The county is required by federal law to draw new supervisor electoral district boundaries within 10 percent of one another in population based on the results of the 2000 census.

Those results indicate that the existing District 1, which encompasses most of the Rim country, now has 21,844 residents. Districts 2 and 3 to the south have 13,778 and 15,713 residents respectively.

The three alternative plans are being presented at a series of public meetings leading up to the selection of a final plan by the Board of Supervisors no later than Dec. 1. The Department of Justice must then approve their selection.

Also on the agenda Thursday evening is a request by Parks Director Bill Schwind to hire Ballard, King and Associates to conduct a feasibility study for a community recreation center. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee selected the firm based on the recommendation of Schwind and Vice Mayor Dick Wolfe who interviewed several firms that specialize in such facilities when they attended the Recreation Facility Design and Management School in Denver.

Schwind said the firm will "look at community demographics, listen to people's needs, find out what the community says is important to them, ... look at site options, do a prospectus on a building including square footage, do a guesstimate on construction costs, and look at what it will cost to operate versus potential revenues," he said. "What they'll come up with is a realistic pro forma that will help the town council decide if it wants to move forward."

If it does, the consultant can also provide design and even start-up operations assistance. The town has budgeted $35,000 for the study.

The council will also consider granting a special event liquor license to the Tonto Apache Tribe for Tribal Recognition Days events scheduled Oct. 5 and 6 at the Payson Event Center.

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