Our committee, Citizens for Fair Taxation, agrees whole-heartedly that new county facilities are needed in Payson and the facilities in Globe need to be upgraded. However, we are opposed to a sales tax increase and the site proposed for the Payson facilities.
About that tax. First ... the county must do a "deep dive" into their budget to find savings in other areas to fund these projects. Secondly, they must seriously look at other finance options. So far they have done neither.
Just like you and me, they simply need to live within their means; they cannot just automatically go to the taxpayers for money to take care of their lack of long term planning. The proposed half-cent increase puts Gila County at 1.5 percent which is the second highest in the state! Only 1/10 cent behind Yuma County.
The proponents of raising taxes have claimed that most Arizona counties use a half-cent tax to fund their burgeoning jails; the fact of the matter is only five counties, less than one-third, have a jail tax at all and only two of those have a half-cent rate. Adding $125 to the price of a $25,000 car really does put our local businesses at a disadvantage.
Put another way, our neighboring counties of Maricopa at .7 percent and Yavapai .75 percent are half of the proposed rate for us; which begs the question, how do we stop Payson's drain of consumer buying to these counties ... if it is cheaper, they will go.
When initiatives were passed in other parts of the country that limited counties' ability to raise taxes, the doomsayers wrung their hands and claimed that essential public safety services would be reduced to dangerous levels. Turned out not to be so.The various governmental agencies found ways to fund necessities. Bottom line, find the money, don't tax us.
About that Main Street site. No other site was seriously considered. Sites that were not even looked at include: Blighted property south of Main Street, leased property at the airport and existing buildings on East Main Street. Furthermore, there were no discussions with the Payson or Star Valley Councils to investigate any joint-use facilities, or simply just to get input from these bodies.
I went to the recent showing of the planned new county facilities for Payson expecting to be awed by the presentation. What I saw and heard convinced me more than ever that this is just plain wrong for Payson.
First off, the project needs considerably more space as it is shoe horned in on approximately 6.5 acres (parcel size was not immediately available). There is insufficient public parking. After being in Globe on court dates and seeing that huge court parking lot full, this parking lot in Payson is way undersized. The overflow will end up at the post office, Main Street Grille or Sawmill Crossing.
Colcord becomes a major access road for the site, but the county has no plans to improve it. In fact, there is no direct access from Main Street at all. And the plans for future expansion? Yep, moving west, taking even more commercial property on Main Street.
The comment I heard from several people there is that it looks better than what is presently there. I would concur with that, but we owe it to ourselves and the Town of Payson to look beyond that sentiment. We can do better; let's have county facilities that make sense.