Because there has been so much discussion regarding the County Board of Supervisors proposed tax increase and their stated promise to use the tax to build and upgrade facilities, I feel it is time I address this issue.
I will do it in three parts 1) relationship with the county, 2) the proposed tax increase and 3) the facilities and location. This article will address the first.
Our relationship with the county... When I ran for mayor, I did not anticipate that I would have to spend so much time and effort dealing with the county. I had expected that if we identified problems, we would simply sit down and work them out. Sadly, that has not been the case... let me elaborate.
August 2006... Star Valley and Payson asked for a meeting with the board of supervisors to discuss a number of issues. The meeting was set for late August, but just prior to the meeting, they called to cancel. Over the next few days they continued to state reasons for the cancellation and we continued to make changes to accommodate them. In the end, it was clear that the real reason was they simply did not want to meet.
Star Valley and Payson councils meet without them and defined a number of issues that needed to be addressed with the County. Chuck Heron (Mayor of Star Valley) and I sent a letter to the board, asking them to address the issues. That letter has never been answered or even acknowledged.
September 2006... Through public pressure, the county board finally agreed to meet with us. At that meeting, they agreed to participate in a joint task force to look at county facilities needed in Northern Gila County. A week later, they called to tell us they were not going to work with us on a joint task force, but would form their own countywide task force.
We acknowledged the need for additional facilities in Payson and an upgrade of the Globe facilities but were disappointed that, once again, we were treated as "Towns without a County." But we agreed to cooperate with their task force, in the hope they would approach in a professional manner.
Spring 2007... early in their task force efforts, three things became clear... 1) the task force was a conclusion looking for justification, 2) it was being used as the shield for a tax increase and 3) it was being rushed to get it on the ballot this November to avoid it being on the ballot when they are up for election next year.
Summer 2007... Supervisor Tommie Martin, in a meeting in Payson, stated "If you don't have the services, we need to know what they are." On July 24, I went to Globe to address their Board to again list the services we need but, once again, we were rejected. In fact, it was clear at that meeting that the people in northern Gila County are considered a problem that needs control.
Examples or our issues... we supply a large percent of the taxes to run the county, but don't receive our proportion back in return. About 70 percent of those who use the event center are from the county, yet we receive no compensation. They supply a disproportionate amount of dollars to the Southern Gila County Fair than to the Northern Gila County Fair. Because we have no juvenile detention facilities, we have to take a police officer out of rotation for most of a shift to drive them to Globe, with no reimbursement. We asked that they hold some of the Supervisors' meetings in the north and even offered our council chambers, but were told it was not needed since people could go to the county office behind the chamber and watch it on TV.
Summary... In all my years in government, I have never experienced the scenario where one unit of government refused to sit down with another to work out or at least address problems.
Regarding their tax increase and facility proposal, for the county to dictate the type and location of facilities in Northern Gila County, without discussing them with the local officials, is not only bad government, but just plain arrogant.
Bob Edwards is the mayor of Payson.