To me, new taxes are a last resort.
I wholeheartedly agree that we need new, expanded and modern jail and court facilities.
Following Supervisor Tommie Martin's presentation to the Citizens Advisory Committee, I reviewed, page by page, the "Gila County Facilities Planning Citizens Advisory Committee Report, Recommendations to the Gila County Board of Supervisors. While I did not read every word, I looked at every page, and read all of the minutes of the meetings. I also sat in on the last meeting of the committee on April 26.
First, at that meeting I was concerned that the facilitator Mr. Steel was biased toward Mr. Reader, the principal for public finance at Stone and Youngberg, whose firm had been retained by Gila County to educate the Citizens Advisory Committee on public financing options. Since that firm provides investment banking services, it seemed a foregone conclusion that a bond issue and taxes were the only solutions to be considered.
Mr. Poskanzer made an alternate proposal at the meeting regarding Certificates of Participation. Mr. Poskanzer proposed that alternate financing options also be presented to the Board of Supervisors. He also suggested that putting a tax and bond measure on the ballot would be very risky. None of the options proposed by Mr. Poskanzer were adopted, yet it seems that a prudent person, committee, Board of Supervisors and the public would want all options explored.
Reading through the report to the board of supervisors, I saw nothing more than a passing mention of alternate financing and alternate sites. Additionally, at the meeting, I distinctly remember, when discussing taxes and bond issues, someone on the committee or possibly a county staff member saying "Well, we've always done it this way," That narrow-minded view of financing disturbs me very much.
I am also concerned that other influences determine committee decisions.
For instance, on March 9, the minutes reflect committee member Ford saying, "Instead of building on the site in downtown Payson, it seems the committee is in agreement that we want an alternative site that is not in downtown."
Another committee member who is not named then said, "I think we have agreement that we can eliminate the downtown Payson option." So, what happened, they had agreement, what changed their mind?
Here are my concerns as a citizen of Payson and Gila County:
The committee was given a deadline that did not allow them to pursue full consideration of alternate financing or alternate locations.
A Payson site had already been decided upon and alternate sites were not given detailed consideration.
An RFP was not done, which would allow a proposal for financing and an alternate site to be considered.
The financing method had been predetermined by the county.
Sufficient investigation of a public/private partnership has not taken place. That includes financing options, ownership and contracting options.
New taxes will make us one of the highest-taxed rural counties in the state.
Following are my concerns regarding the Payson location and plan as proposed:
The traffic flow as presented would create a traffic hazard for vehicles to turn into Frontier in front of the post office from highway 87. Two way traffic at that point would be a hazard with out a traffic light. A traffic study has not been done.
An additional traffic light at Frontier would be too close to the one at Main Street.
There is insufficient parking in the proposed design.
There is nowhere to grow the facility as the population increases and services increase.
Once again, there is no room to expand! Not looking at future needs to me is very shortsighted.
I believe that this issue should go back to committee to look at all the options!!
If after considering all the options, the current recommendations are the best, then at least the county has done its due diligence and the voters can approve recommendations with confidence.
Gary J. Bedsworth