Members of the Diamond Star Water Coalition are confident their community will become the first in Arizona to become incorporated without having to hold an election.
The coalition submitted petitions bearing the names of 986 registered voters. If just over 700 of those signatures are verified, the two-thirds majority needed to avoid an election will be reached.
Steve Bingham, a member of the coalition, is confident that will happen.
"Of the 986 turned in, 868 are nailed to the wall," Bingham said. "They're good as gold."
The nonprofit coalition was formed to fight efforts by the town and developer G. Michael Horton to pipe water from Star Valley to Payson to build new subdivisions. Star Valley and Diamond Point Shadows, which comprise the Diamond Star Fire District, will become a town once the Gila County Board of Supervisors accepts the petitions.
That is scheduled to be considered at a meeting of the supervisors on Nov. 1.
"We've requested the meeting be up here (in the Payson area)," Bingham said.
But the town of Payson could file a legal challenge to the incorporation. Town Attorney Sam Streichman has said the matter could end up in court, and has suggested the petition has some procedural problems.
"They'll find something, but they will be going against a huge number of people, not only in Diamond Star, but also in Payson," Bingham said.
Payson Mayor Barbara Brewer admitted the town does not want to annex the area, but said she still thinks annexation would be a better option for the residents of the Diamond Star area.
"I understand they filed their petitions to incorporate, and I'm just really saddened because they don't know what they're getting into," she said.
The mayor said she doesn't know if the town will challenge the incorporation.
"I can't say for sure," she said. "I don't know what the other councilors want to do. When the facts are laid in front of us, we'll have to look at it."
Brewer also said that the county supervisors have already agreed that they will support the incorporation of Diamond Star.
"The county supervisors have already made up their minds that's what they're going to do," she said. "So much for open meeting law."
Bingham, who owns KRIM-FM radio station, said he would join former justice of the peace Ronnie McDaniel on the first town council if selected by the supervisors.
"I want to become involved in the structure of the town, so I have submitted a resume," Bingham said. "I've tried to be low profile, and I was even trying to mediate (between the town and the coalition) for awhile, but what happened was we were getting a lot of lies and there was too much dancing."
Bingham vowed that the water flow from Star Valley to Payson would stop once the town incorporates.
"I can tell you one thing," he said. "If incorporation goes through, and it's a high probability, that water is going to be taxed to hell and gone; it's going to be very pricey water."
Local attorney Art Lloyd, also a member of the coalition, agreed.
"If we are incorporated, we have a better chance of protecting ourselves from predators like Payson than we do if we are unincorporated," Lloyd said.
County officials, including County Attorney Daisy Flores, County Recorder Linda Haught-Ortega, and County Elections Supervisor Dixie Mundy, warmly received the coalition.
"Everybody at Gila County was very positive about what we were doing," Bingham said. "They have a very positive attitude. "They think it's a positive thing for the county and they're really thrilled about it."