Prior Council Member Responds To Mayor On Water Issue

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In Mayor Bob Edwards' review of some history in his guest comment in the April 10 Payson Roundup, he made three statements that public records do not support. The mayor wrote, "August 2005. When the prior Payson Town Council was in the process of buying the Tower Well ..." and later said "the well was bought by Payson at a value of approximately $4.5 million and put online."

The prior council, on which I served, did not purchase the Tower Well. The council approved the acceptance of 400 gpm of water, wellhead improvements, and a pipeline to bring that water into the Payson water system. There wasn't any money paid to the company that provided these assets to the town. However, the town did grant 1,000 water credits to the company to be used in future developments within the town of Payson.

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Robert Henley

The council did approve the purchase of an additional 130 gpm of production from the Tower Well for a cost of $750,000 with payments spread over an eight-year period with no interest being paid. These payments are being made to the original driller of the well, not to the company that provided the pipeline, well and other improvements to the Town.

Lastly, the mayor wrote, "September 2005. Myself and others led a successful petition drive to put the purchase of water from the Tower Well to a vote of the people, but the prior council ruled the referendum illegal."

The prior council did not rule the referendum illegal. The council sought outside legal counsel to provide legal guidance in this matter. The position presented by counsel at a public council meeting was that the matter could not be legally put to the vote of the people. The council could not legally do anything with that petition. As the mayor said later, the courts upheld that view.

The Star Valley Safe Yield Study by Clear Creek Associates shows that the Star Valley area has greater water supply than does Payson. It also shows production from the Tower Well does not impact the overall supply of water for Star Valley. I feel the prior council on which I served made very wise and thoughtful decisions in this matter and time will prove them prudent and forward thinking. Elected officials should make the best decisions based on fact and what is best for the community they represent, not on the emotions of the time or what is politically expedient.

I concur with Mayor Bob Edwards' position that the Town of Payson needs to work with Star Valley to develop a regional water plan.

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