The Diamond Star Town Council tentatively approved its first budget Tuesday evening.
The $817,352 interim budget is for the period from Dec. 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006. The budget will now be published twice in the Payson Roundup as a paid legal notice (beginning with this issue), after which a public hearing and formal adoption will be held.
Expected revenue sources include state-shared sales tax, highway user revenue funds, vehicle license tax and a local sales tax. The town is pursuing a line of credit with a financial institution that will allow it to operate until these funds become available.
"We still don't have a lot of money -- like we have no money," Mayor Ronnie McDaniel said, producing loud laughter from yet another packed house of about 65 residents.
The budget was prepared by a citizens committee headed by Councilor Bill Heath, a former member of the Queen Creek town council. He said the town should be receiving revenue sharing funds in 60 to 90 days.
"That's based on population, so a special census has to be completed," Heath said. "Once a population is established, it will get into the state's system."
Heath said the revenues in the budget were estimated by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns based on a population of 2,400.
The council also voted unanimously to send a letter to the U.S. Forest Service supporting the pending land exchange with the Tonto Apache Tribe. In 2001, the Tonto Apache Tribe applied to the Forest Service to exchange 405 acres of private land in various national forests for 273 acres of forest land adjacent to their reservation.
The Diamond Star Town Council also appointed committees to:
- Research the availability of rental property for an interim town hall (chaired by Vice Mayor Randy White);
- To study the possibility of acquiring Forest Service land for a town complex and/or park location (made up of councilors Art Lloyd and Ted Pettet) and
- Advertise for and begin interviewing applicants for town clerk and/or town manager (comprised of councilors Chuck Heron and Heath).
"As a government entity, we're allowed to purchase land from the Forest Service, whereas, an individual can't do that," Pettet told the council. "Down the road, we have to look at what's ahead for Star Valley 15, 20, 30 years from now. You've got to get your foot in the door and get it done as quickly as possible."
The council also unanimously approved a contract retaining the services of the Valley law firm of Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre and Friedlander. Fredda Bisman, a partner in the firm, will remain the town's attorney.
Following the regular meeting, the council adjourned to executive session for legal advice concerning water issues, liability insurance, and the town's position regarding the lawsuit filed by George Randall, Roy Haught, G. Michael Horton and others to stop the incorporation of Diamond Star. Bisman told the Roundup the lawsuit is having no impact on the operation of the town.
"Right now it's business as usual," she said. "We just got it; we're still analyzing it. We have to respond to the lawsuit and we'll be discussing that with the council."
Councilor Art Lloyd, a local attorney, previously told the Roundup that the "people and entities" that filed the lawsuit do not have legal standing to do so.
"That's one of the things we're looking at," Bisman said.