Justice Center Debate Rages On

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The second debate regarding the proposed county justice facilities raged on, leaving concerned voters only two weeks before a decision on the project funding will be made.

The Citizens Awareness Committee played host to the second debate on the heavily propagandized issue.

Registered voters in Gila County will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 6, whether to fund the jail and courthouse improvements in Payson and Globe via increased sales tax and general bonds.

Political action committee members in favor of the ballot issue Ken Volz, who was also on the volunteer jails committee, John Franklin, a Payson attorney, and former Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner squared off against Payson Councilor Ed Blair and Leon Keddington, who is a member of the political action committee opposed to the ballot issue.

Volz, Franklin and Gartner brought a handout showing 14 other sites were researched and rejected by the jails committee as having "fatal flaws," such as high cost or lack of public utilities.

Volz urged those present not to base their vote on conjecture or opinion.

"Folks, make your decisions based on facts," he said.

Gartner said he was in favor of this approach and method of payment.

"It puts us in the driver's seat," he said. "It puts the people of Gila County in control of their future."

Lifetime Rim Country resident Franklin said it was important to take advantage of this project.

"They're beautiful structures we can build our town around," he said. "I'm here because this is my home and I believe in this project."

In his opening remarks, Keddington said the county didn't research other methods to pay for the project.

"They looked at two ways to pay for this: taxes and more taxes," he said.

He also questioned the availability of land on Main Street.

"There are only six acres available," he said. "That is just too darn small."

Blair said he wants further research to be done on other possible locations.

"I believe this plan was not thoroughly thought out," he said. "I think there are some good alternate sites."

Volz reminded CAC members that the location was not on the upcoming ballot for voters to decide.

Voters are being asked if it is "important enough to (them) to pay additional taxes for public safety over the next 20 years," he said.

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