The presiding judge of the superior court of Gila County thinks the time is right for the Town of Star Valley to build new municipal facilities.
In a letter to the Star Valley Council, Superior Court Judge Robert Duber II proposed that the county and the Town of Star Valley jointly explore construction of a court building and perhaps a small attached juvenile detention facility.
Star Valley, he wrote, would advance the construction costs, and a portion of the facilities would then be leased to Gila County.
Mayor Chuck Heron said at this point of time, the town is taking the recommendation under advisement. He said if the council was to direct the town to move forward on the buildings, it could be financed through a bond issue.
He said there are a lot of issues in the county that the town needs to explore.
"We really didn't look at anything. They came to us," Heron said.
The town will always listen to what the county has to say, he said. The proposal will likely be discussed at the joint council meeting on Sept. 25.
Duber said it would be a benefit to everyone involved.
"This is not a new issue as far as the courts are concerned," he said. "What person in their right mind would not say we would not want better facilities?" The catch, he said, is it comes with a price tag.
Star Valley Town Manager Lanny Sloan said that in his opinion having municipal buildings in the community would be a good thing for the town and county.
"The Town of Star Valley now has a need," he said. "It is a perfect opportunity."
Since Star Valley is now a town, he said, it would be able to receive grant money to defray the cost of construction on any building.
"If we build it and the county leases it, it works for both agencies," Sloan said.
The current superior court in Payson is too small so the need for another facility is needed, Sloan said. The county could use the courtroom during the day, and the council meetings could be held in the courtroom in the evenings. "It could save on costs. I think it is a very good idea."
Councilor Mary Ann Kotelnicki said she is very happy the county would approach the town about this possibility.
"I think we can accommodate them," she said. "Maybe, we in Star Valley can fulfill their needs. I think it is a good idea."
She said she will try to convince other council members on the need for having municipal buildings in the town.
Since the town is required to provide municipal court services, Duber said, including staff and facilities, now would be the time to build something new in Star Valley.
"We have been negotiating with Star Valley on providing court services through the justice of the peace and this seemed to fall into place," Duber said. "Sometimes things happen at the right time."
Duber said the town would ultimately decide if they want a juvenile detention facility and courtroom.
He said the county has talked about building new facilities in the past, but never had the funds to make it a reality.