Gila County Needs State Equity

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Editor:

Recently there was statewide news reporting of the plight of residents livingcross the creek in Tonto Basin. It's too bad the rest of the county (and all of rural Arizona, for that matter) can't get the same kind of spotlight shown on it so publicly.

've lived in Wheatfields (just north of Globe/Miami) since 1992,as flooded by Pinal Creek in 1993, andave beenble to view first-hand many ofila County'seather disasters due toloseelationships withour of the county's supervisors over the years.

Winkelman Flats (which was subsequently demolished) was devastated by flooding at the confluence of the Gila and San Pedro Rivers.Huge chunks of private property disappeared down Tonto Creek at Punkin Center.imilar chunks of land simply went away from Gisela; and Roosevelt Resort was severely flooded in 1992 -- then inundated by floodwaters that helped fill Lake Roosevelt to its fullest ever some years later. Globe bridgesave beenwash because of debris and dead trees washed down Pinal Creek, and mud has flooded Miami streets to the point that many were totally impassable.

There have been other weather incidents since then, like the snow that cut power to Globe/Miami and San Carlos for almost two days, stranding people traveling highways 60, 70, 77 and 188 -- peopleiven food and shelter at the Apache Gold Casino and the Globe High School gym by generous area businesses and residents.

FEMA stiffed Gila County for some $300,000hat wasromisedn turn forn-kind work done during the 1992-93 flooding -- money that could have provided whopping0% match for the Tonto Bridge Project. And they turned their backs oninto Creek residents devastated by floodwaters that swept through Roosevelt Resort some time later.

The heroes inll rural counties like Gila are the city and county employees who work 24/7 to help the hapless victims of weather events thataveost lives and destroyed private property.

Gila County only has 4% private property as a tax source. There is a flood control district, but funding for it holds a back seat to state- and federally-mandated programs. All the rest of Gila land belongs to the State or the Feds ...and Gila County helps guard and maintain while therizona and United States Governments, as the major landowners, fight tooth and nail to avoid payingheir fair share.

Maricopa and Pima County residents are blessed with low tax rates and adequate funding compared to Arizona's rural counties. In fact, the rural counties share of sales taxes is less per capita than Pima and Maricopa. Rural counties are saddled with unfair AHCCCS and ALTCS burdens, again not relative to current per-capita use. The list of funding shortages and state/federal abuse goes on and on ...

Voters here turned down a school override election, a 1/2 cent sales tax, and a 21 cent property tax in the last year because they are taxed to death -- among the highest in the state. Still there is very little help from the Arizona Legislature, andederal assistancenly comes with strings attached that are far beyond our means.

There would be complete flood control projects, more responsive emergency services, and a keener sensitivity to residents' basic needs if equity with the rest of the state could be found somehow. The shame is there are only 60,000 people in all of Gila County and nobody gives a damn!

Ted Thayer

Wheatfields

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