Council To Weigh Star Valley Annexation

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The annexation of Star Valley will be weighed by the Payson Town Council at its regular 6 p.m. meeting Thursday, but petitioners were surprised that water might not be part of the deal.

The annexation process was initiated by a group of Star Valley residents after the town agreed to accept water from a developer who is drilling wells inside their community.

Fearing their own wells might run dry, the Diamond Star Water Coalition submitted petitions containing the signatures of 95 residents who live in the Diamond Star Fire District, the area the town is being asked to annex.

But Town Manager Fred Carpenter says the town does not have to provide water to Star Valley residents, even if it decides to annex the area.

"If the only reason they want to be annexed is because they think that we're required to take over the water system, forget it," Carpenter said. "It's not true."

Chris Benjamin, owner of Sky Run RV Resort and one of the coalition leaders, says that's exactly what his group expects.

"That's really unusual that they left out the best part," Benjamin said. "They not only have to provide water, but they have to also condemn and purchase Brooke Utilities (the California-based company that provides water in parts of Star Valley)."

Carpenter will recommend that the council direct staff to conduct a preliminary analysis of the request to determine if Star Valley can be legally annexed and if the benefits to the town outweigh the costs of providing required services.

"The only thing we're required to provide out there is maintaining streets and providing police protection and courts," he said. "Everything beyond that is pretty much optional."

Carpenter said he will make a presentation to the council outlining the available options, followed by Sam Streichman, town attorney, who will use a PowerPoint presentation to delineate the legal procedure.

The coalition has asked for five to eight minutes for a presentation on the merits of annexation. Benjamin said local radio personality Randy Roberson, a Payson resident, will narrate the Powerpoint presentation.

"He's embarrassed over what the town is doing because it's so wrong and so he feels he wants to jump on our bandwagon," Benjamin said.

The coalition anticipates a strong turnout of Star Valley residents. "We hope to fill the (chambers), fill the parking lot and fill the street," he said. "We're hoping to have in excess of 100 people."

Benjamin said the crowd will be orderly, and unless something unexpected comes up, the plan is to let Roberson do the talking.

"We're trying to be as kind and gentle as we can," he said.

Raises for mayor, council

Councilors will also consider giving themselves raises Thursday evening. Councilor Judy Buettner, who has announced that she is not running for re-election next year, is pushing for an increase. She says it is needed because the town currently pays well below market average.

Mayor Barbara Brewer receives $500 per month, while councilors receive $250 per month. The average compensation of 10 comparable municipalities is $845 for mayors and $463 for councilors.

"Those are the same municipalities we compare with for our staff salaries, so it's an arguable comparison to this group of communities," Carpenter said.

They include Apache Junction, Avondale, Cottonwood, Flagstaff, Gilbert, Goodyear, Prescott, Sierra Vista, Surprise, and Wickenburg. Compensation ranges from a high of $2,300 for the mayor of Gilbert to only $200 for councilors in Wickenburg.

Bringing the mayor and council up to the average of the 10 communities would cost the town $18,600 per year. Raises would not take effect until the next council is seated.

Other agenda items

  • The council will consider raising the speed limit on Doll Baby Road from the west side of Greenfaire Subdivision to the end of the pavement and on Vista Road from the north side of the Fairway Knolls Subdivision to the Country Club Vista Subdivision from 25 to 35 miles per hour. The Doll Baby increase is the only one of 13 speed limit increases the council asked Public Works Engineer LaRon Garrett to look into that he will recommend.
  • he council will consider a landscape design concept for the Home Depot-Tyler Parkway roundabout on Highway 87 that "will provide a very attractive statement as a person enters Payson from the north," according to Garrett, who is recommending its approval.

"It will appear as the Payson gateway," Garrett said.

The design includes three-foot high metal letters spelling "Payson" and a large elk sculpture.

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