Judge Colin Campbell ruled for the town of Payson and against putting the town's decision to buy water from a Star Valley well on the ballot.
Campbell made his ruling Tuesday. He said the decision was administrative rather than legislative and therefore not subject to a referendum by the voters. The Committee for Community-Based Growth is considering an appeal.
The judge heard arguments from both sides at a hearing Monday morning and took the matter under advisement. Few on either side expected a decision so soon.
The issue before the judge was whether to allow the voters to pass judgment on Resolution 2098 -- the Payson Town Council's decision to pay George Randall and Roy Haught $750,000 for water from their Star Valley well. After the council passed the resolution, the Committee for Community-Based Growth submitted a petition containing more than 1,900 signatures requesting it be placed on the ballot.
The town council then accepted 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.
"All I can say is that it is still the subject of possible future legal proceedings," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said.
Hal Baas, the new chairman of the Committee for Community-Based Growth, said he was disappointed, but not surprised.
"Our attorney believes there may be some question with the Wennerstrom (v. City of Mesa) case (on which the judge based his ruling)," Baas said, "and that will be the basis of our appeal (directly to the Arizona Supreme Court)."
Bob Edwards has resigned as chairman of the committee because he is running for mayor.
"He still supports its ideals, and it supports him," Baas said, "but the CCBG and Bob Edwards are no longer officially related."
Roy Bergold has replaced Baas as secretary-treasurer of the group.