Q: Payson is an incorporated town. What is the difference between a town and a city?
A: Town Manager Fred Carpenter said two Arizona Revised Statutes, 9-240 and 9-276, define the differences. Incorporation gives a municipality the right to levy certain powers such as operating a police force.
"The county does all that if you're not incorporated," Carpenter said. The minimum population requirement to become incorporated is 1,500.
In Gila County, there are only five incorporated towns: Globe, Payson, Miami, Winkleman and Hayden.
The key difference between a town and a city, according to Carpenter, is a charter. A charter allows for greater power, such as the ability to separate into districts and wards, imposing term limits for the council, and electing city representatives at large.
To become a city, a municipality has to have a population of 3,000. For instance, the city of Jerome, which was chartered when it had a larger population, only has 800 residents, and then there's the town of Gilbert, which has a population of more than 100,000. Carpenter said getting a charter is a matter of need, and Payson is doing fine without becoming a city.
"There's nothing we can't do because we don't have a charter," he said.
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