In an effort to get more citizen input on the town’s water issues, Star Valley plans to begin monthly water work-study sessions.
The new meetings will be less formal than a council meeting and allow residents to have a dialogue with the town council.
Town Manager Tim Grier said he encourages everyone to attend so the council can hear varying views on the water situation.
“If you want to be heard you have to come to meetings like this,” he said. “The council is offering its ear.”
Grier said many residents have their opinions on the water situation and the council wants to hear what those are. Often Grier and the council only learn of these opinions when they read them in a newspaper’s letter to the editor section.
Grier said it is the public’s responsibility to show up at meetings and voice their opinions.
“I don’t think it’s fair to be critical of councilors performing a civic duty and not participate yourself.”
Grier said there is a misperception that the town is no longer working on water issues and has turned its focus elsewhere. He admits the town is working to improve its streets and roads and sewer, but that does not mean water is now on the back burner.
“Water has always been a priority for the town of Star Valley,” he said. “On the other hand, we have a lot of other important issues, but that does not mean water is not important anymore.”
The town’s water and sewer commission, headed up by Vern Leis, is actively looking at the results of the LFR study and determining what the findings mean to development. Based on that data, the council could determine its next move.
“What we know about water is there is no easy answers out there,” he said. “And if there is an answer, it is going to come with a price tag. Citizens need to understand that there is a price tag.”
He added that the council has to spend wisely, especially in these economic times with state-shared revenues cut.
When the council learned it would cost more than they expected for condemnation of Brooke Utilities, they backed away knowing they could not responsibly afford it, he said.
The town has already spent at least $150,000 on water studies and legal advice.
“We have to be careful how we throw money at it. But there is not a council member who does not think water is an important issue.”
The council will discuss a date for the water work-studies at Tuesday night’s council meeting at the Star Valley Baptist Church.
Also on the council agenda: Adoption of the 2009 tax code amendments; first reading of the street naming and numbering ordinance; discussion of required annual audit and the proposals from two accounting firms; discussion of the town code regarding employee raises. Currently, the town manager decides to give raises to town employees without council approval and other items.