Judge Will Rule This Week On Water Referendum

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Payson voters will have to wait a few more days to find out if Resolution 2098 will make it to the ballot after a Superior Court judge listened to presentations from both sides at a hearing Monday morning.

Judge Colin Campbell took the matter under advisement and promised a ruling later this week.

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Bob Edwards

After Resolution 2098 -- the Payson Town Council's decision to pay George Randall and Roy Haught $750,000 for water from their Star Valley well -- was originally passed, the Committee for Community-Based Growth submitted a petition containing over 1,900 signatures requesting it be placed on the ballot.

The town council then accepted (without taking a vote) the legal advice of Tom Irvine, a Valley lawyer who specializes in election law. Irvine told the council that he felt a referendum could not be held because Resolution 2098 would merely carry out a policy that is already in place.

The Committee for Community-Based Growth subsequently appealed the town's decision not to hold the referendum. Bob Edwards, leader of the committee and a candidate for mayor, was at the hearing.

He said the town rolled out its full legal arsenal.

"They had both (town) attorneys there (Sam Streichman and Tim Wright), plus (consulting attorney Tom) Irvine, plus Horton's attorney (Steven Hirsch)," Edwards said. "I'm not sure why they didn't just have Irvine there, but obviously Horton has intervened and joined the suit."

Edwards said the committee's attorney, Gil Shaw, argued that the resolution is a referable item because the $750,000 the town wants to pay Randall and Haught is an appropriation.

"His point was that the public needs to have that right (to vote) if you're doing things where you're appropriating money," Edwards said. "You simply cannot give away that freedom."

Edwards also said Shaw believes the committee will receive a fair hearing.

"Our attorney really likes this judge," he said. "He's a very astute judge, and (the town attorneys) were throwing all sorts of garbage.

"This judge is very good at sorting things out."

Town Manager Fred Carpenter had not talked to the town's attorneys when contacted following the hearing and declined to comment.

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