The Arizona Court of Appeals in Tucson ruled in favor of the Town of Payson last week, agreeing that the voters should not be allowed to decide the fate of Resolution 2098 -- the Payson Town Council's decision to pay George Randall and Roy Haught $750,000 for water from their Star Valley well.
The Committee for Community-Based Growth (CCBG), which is contesting the resolution, says it will now appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.
"We are disappointed that the Court of Appeals did not rule to overturn the Superior Court decision," CCBG Chairman Hal Baas said. "The CCBG still believes strongly that the voters of Payson should have a say on how $750,000 of our money is spent and whether we should use our neighbors' water to support our growth. Accordingly, we will immediately file an appeal to the Arizona State Supreme Court."
In September, after resolution 2098 was originally passed, CCBG submitted a petition containing over 1,900 signatures requesting it be placed on the ballot. The town hired Tom Irvine, a Valley lawyer who specializes in election law, who told the council he felt a referendum could not be placed on the ballot because Resolution 2098 merely carries out a policy that is already in place.
When CCBG appealed the town's decision not to hold the referendum, Superior Court Judge Colin Campbell ruled in the town's favor in December. That decision resulted in the latest appeal.
The Town of Payson wants to buy the excess water from the Randall-Haught well after local developer G. Michael Horton takes the water he needs to develop three new subdivisions within Payson town limits. Horton is currently completing a pipeline from the Randall-Haught well to The Rim Club, a gated community just inside the town of Payson's eastern boundary. The town's decision to use Star Valley water for its own growth led the town of Diamond Star to incorporate in hope of stopping the process.