I had the good fortune to sit in as an interested member of the public during the Gila County Facilities Planning Citizens Advisory Committee meeting April 26 at Gila Community College.
The committee is recommending to the Board of Supervisors that the county finance new courthouses and jails in Payson and Globe by: raising our sales taxes by half-a-cent to support a proposed Jail District and by selling general obligation bonds to pay for the courthouse and other non-jail facilities.
This ends up to be a double hit on the citizens of Gila County, as we pay the interest on the bonds through our taxes and we pay an additional sales tax.
As a bystander, I got the impression that a coalition had already made up their mind before the meeting started. They, particularly Ken Volz from Payson, refused to consider alternatives.
Al Poskanzer, a member of the committee, presented versions of an alternative plan to the committee that made a lot of sense to me and may be considerably less expensive.
1. Sell the existing very valuable property at the entrance to Main Street. This property could be used for retail and commercial space. I understand that it has been valued at over $3 million. (A retail project on this site would generate County tax revenue, and both County and Payson sales tax revenue.)
2. Use the proceeds from the sale to finance the project on less expensive land.
3. Relocate the jail and courthouse on less expensive property that is already owned by the Gila County or the Town of Payson in the Payson area, or other less-expensive local land. I understand that multiple potential sites are available.
4. Consider the possibility of a public/private partnership to build the project and lease it back to the county.
Some people want to tax, tax, tax, with no consideration for the investigation of plausible alternatives.
The Committee's recommendations are being presented to the Board of Supervisors in Globe. If they approve this approach, we will see issues on the ballot for approval of double-funding, paid for by the citizens of Gila County.
Fellow Citizens of Rim Country, if they pass this and it goes on the ballot for citizen approval, vote "no."
Gary J. Bedsworth, Payson