Payson Votes To Police Star Valley, 4-3

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The Payson Town Council will provide police service to the town of Star Valley for the next two years.

The council voted 4-3 Thursday to approve a contract for $258,300 for each of the next two years, until June 30, 2009. The contract will provide for the addition of two officers and police vehicles to help cover the added workload.

Vice Mayor Tim Fruth and Councilors Andy Romance and Mike Vogel voted against the agreement.

The agreement includes a clause for overage protection, at a rate of $45 per hour, for the Payson Police Department in the event that any single call generates more than 100 man-hours of work.

Police Commander Don Engler was present at the meeting to answer questions from the council and expressed his approval of the contract, which had undergone two other revisions.

He said the two-year agreement is better for the police department because it has to hire new officers.

"It provides two police officers to work in both communities and two vehicles to work in both communities," he said.

Engler said that it is likely that the police department would retain the two new officers at the end of the contract to replace retiring officers.

Mayor Bob Edwards said that despite some resentment expressed by councilors regarding the failure of the two towns to reach an agreement over water issues, he would like to see Payson take the high road and provide police services.

"I, too, am disappointed that we haven't reached a water agreement," Edwards said. "That, however, is a different issue. We have the responsibility to be a good neighbor. I think we have to do what's right."

The contract stipulates that Star Valley will only receive basic police services for the price of the contract and that the two additional officers are not designated solely for Star Valley.

Star Valley officials expressed relief in finally negotiating police services for the next two years. The town's current contract with the Payson Police Department was set to expire on June 30.

"I think this demonstrates the town of Payson's willingness to work with Star Valley," said Vito Tedeschi, Star Valley town manager. "It's a relief, because now we can finalize our budget."

Star Valley Mayor Chuck Heron said he was glad to continue with the Payson Police Department but that the town had a "fallback plan" if the contract hadn't been approved.

"I prefer working together with the town of Payson," he said. "At this point any kind of contract is a relief."

Councilor Vogel said that he thinks Star Valley needs to take action to establish its own law enforcement services.

"I want Star Valley to understand something," he said. "In the first year, they did nothing. When the third year ends, they better have a plan."

Other council actions

The council voted unanimously to declare May 17 through May 19 as Payson Western Wear Days in recognition of the importance that the rodeo serves in town. The council unanimously approved the declaration that May 2007 be Foster Care Month, in support of the foster care system and its volunteers and in order to encourage members of the community to come forward and do something positive to help children in need.

The council also unanimously approved that the week of May 13 through May 19 be proclaimed as Police Week and that May 15 be recognized as Peace Officers Memorial Day. Officers from the Payson Police Department, Gila County Sheriff's Office and Department of Public Safety were present to accept the proclamation.

Al Poskanzer, chairman of the town's Ethics Task Force, gave a presentation about the findings of the volunteer task force regarding the ethics of the town council and town employees. Councilor Vogel requested, and the council unanimously approved, 60 days to review the documentation presented by the task force, before the council has a first reading.

Town Manager Fred Carpenter asked that a request to direct the town staff to issue a call for bids for lease of the Payson Municipal Airport be tabled until the next council meeting on May 17, so that the agreement would comply with the proper Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

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