Mayor Takes Aim At County Jail Proposal

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Mayor Bob Edwards has three problems with the county's proposal for justice facilities in Payson.

"Very early in the process, three things became very clear," he said. "First, that it was a conclusion looking for a justification. Second, that it was a shield for a tax increase and third, that it was rushed to be on this November's election, I suspect because next November (the supervisors) will be running themselves."

Edwards addressed his concerns at a Citizens Awareness Committee meeting Monday afternoon.

"The public deserves an honest approach," he said. "A tax increase should never be the first answer, it should be the last answer. Nothing this important should be rushed for political reasons."

The county, he said, has been unwilling to work with the towns of Payson and Star Valley.

"I'm okay with this proposal except for the approach, location and tax," he said. "We had no consultation with them at all as town officials. They refused to talk to us. We're basically a gnat that they're trying to swat away."

Edwards suggested that other locations were not looked at. The county's current site on Main Street and Beeline -- the location for expansion -- will be too small, even with intended expansion, he said.

"It's too small at its inception," he said. "(The county) is going to have to take more land very soon for parking and other things."

Edwards proposed land near the town hall building in Payson and the sharing of facilities between town officials and county officials.

"One site that I think makes a lot of sense to me is to use the vacant land behind town hall and combine town hall and the county," he said.

"The land that we're talking about there would be more than (the county) would ever need."

Committee members asked Edwards his opinion on whether the county would raise property taxes, if the sales tax ballot measure failed in November.

"Any time a politician makes a threat to you, it's time to throw them out of office," he said.

Edwards said sales tax is already high in Payson, which is a disadvantage to businesses.

"We already have a consumer drain here in town because of the sales tax difference between us and areas around us," he said. "Why do we want to increase that? We shouldn't, by the stroke of a pen, hurt businesses."

Edwards urged a "no" vote on the ballot measure in November.

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