Promises, Politicians And Ducks


So this politician walks into a bar with a duck on his head, pours you what looks just like a glass of water and hands it to you.

But you just look at him funny, having had experience with politicians, ducks and clear liquids in bars.

Should you drink the water? Can you trust a politician? And just how thirsty are you?

All of this amounts to a roundabout way of noting that the Payson Town Council took yet another key step toward delivering on a big promise — securing the town’s water supply with a pipeline to the Blue Ridge Reservoir.

In the process, they sort of broke a smaller promise about how they’d pay for that future.

It goes something like this.

Visionary town leaders have been working in a marvelous relay the past 20 years to secure the water necessary to ensure this community’s future. They defied all the bureaucratic odds when they finally secured rights to 3,000 acre-feet annually from the reservoir, effectively doubling the town’s water supply.

Payson can now brag of being one of the few rural communities in the whole state with enough water. Payson’s coup will hopefully also benefit all the surrounding communities, when they negotiate their own rights to an additional 500 acre-feet.

Along the way, various town councils told residents that the $7,500-per-unit water infrastructure impact fee would pay for the pipeline. At the time, assorted council members made that statement, lots of folks in town resented growth and wanted to make sure that newcomers paid their own way. Why should perfectly happy existing residents foot the bill for a $30 to $40 million pipeline project to provide for future growth?

This week, the town concluded negotiations on the sale of revenue bonds to finance the first chunk of the pipeline loan — about $6.5 million in federal stimulus money. Payments on that loan will likely total about $460,000. Ultimately, town officials say that payments on the various low-cost federal loans will total about $1.1 million annually.

Who will make the payments?

The town’s water department with revenue from water sales, which is one of the requirements of the federal loan program.

True, the $7,500-per-unit impact fee can be used to pay off the loan more quickly. But federal rules require the town to have enough money from current water sales coming in to make the payments on the loans. Therefore, impact fees may offset the cost of the Blue Ridge pipeline, but they won’t pay the whole cost. And that’s all right with us.

We don’t think it makes sense to pile so many costs onto new construction that you smother the town’s economy. Already, town and sanitation district impact fees on a house amount to $15,000 per unit — a worrisome burden that makes it difficult to build an affordable house anywhere in town. But we think current residents will reap huge benefits from securing the town’s water supply — and ought to shoulder a portion of the cost. For starters, the Blue Ridge water will cost less than pumping water out of the ground, so current users will end up saving money. More importantly, water shortages will blight many areas in rural Arizona, but not in Payson. So, go ahead — drink the water — even if it eventually boosts the water bill a little. Sometimes, you really can trust a politician — so long as you overlook the duck.

Life’s a bull ride, so get on board

Life’s kind of like a bull ride, don’t you think?

A lot of driving, waiting around, getting in line, paying entrance fees, nursing bruises — all for 8 seconds (probably less) of terror and glory. Odds are, you’re gonna get stomped — wind up broken and bruised.

But still: What an 8 seconds. One more reason to attend the rodeo, we figure — all those life lessons.

The 125th staging of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo rolled into town this week with a happy flurry occasioned by all the sheepback rides, wild cow milkings, strumming fake guitars, hanging the mayor, roping in teams, parades, dances and general fooling about.

Great fun. And great history. We love rodeo week for its own distinctive pleasures — including the marvelous image of Mayor Kenny Evans adjusting a woman’s garter with a rope around his neck. But we also love how this week connects Rim Country to its roots — all those hard-riding, hard-drinking, brave-living cowboys who laid the foundation for us to build on.

So, git on over to the rodeo grounds sometime this weekend and help keep Payson’s Western heritage alive.


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