Not Too Late To Vote On Region’S Future

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One last plea. If you haven’t voted, it’s not too late. The stakes remain high. The budget override will determine whether the Payson Unified School District weathers the impending budget hailstorm or withers for lack of community support.

Payson’s Home Rule spending limit measure will determine the future of the region — from the Blue Ridge pipeline to prospects for a four-year college in town.

The Star Valley council and mayoral election will have a huge impact on the town’s future, with the tenuous truce in the water wars and the future of town services all on the line.

The Payson council and mayoral election will also have an influence on a host of pending initiatives and determine the vital complexion of the council for when growth finally resumes in Rim Country.

You should have received your ballot in the mail about a month ago.

If you’ve put it off until the last minute or mislaid the ballot, you can still vote.

You can take ballots for the school budget override election and the Star Valley council election to the Gila County Recorder’s Office in Payson at 201 W. Frontier St. anytime today before 7 p.m.

You can take ballots for Payson council and Home Rule to the Payson Town Hall at 303 N. Beeline Highway.

If you’ve lost your ballot, you can get a new one.

We hope that you will support both the Home Rule spending limits and the Payson Unified School District budget override.

Rejecting Home Rule would devastate town services and probably force the town to abandon plans for the Blue Ridge pipeline and an ASU campus in town.

Rejecting the school budget override would save the average homeowner a measly 3 cents a day, at the cost of adding nearly $1 million to the district’s looming financial problems.

So the future of the whole region will turn on today’s election.

Don’t miss out on your chance to help.

First answer questions, then seek GCC funding

Gila Community College remains one of Rim Country’s most vital institutions and a bargain for students and taxpayers alike.

Unfortunately, the standoff between the Gila Community College Board and its Eastern Arizona overlords means the college can’t possibly expect voters to approve a budget boost at the moment.

The GCC board has already accepted a sizeable tuition increase and debilitating furloughs and program cuts.

Moreover, local homeowners pay among the lowest tax rates in the state to support an institution critical to the future of the region.

Still, any appeal to taxpayers in the current climate for more help faces an uphill struggle. We see little chance voters would approve an increase in the now-low property tax rate until EAC administrators provide an acceptable level of budget information.

Currently, even board members can’t figure out the bottom line from the numbers EAC provides — which means they have no chance of explaining to the public how badly the college needs a property tax rate increase.

The GCC board had wanted to put a rate increase before the voters this month. But then, the current budget bewilderment set in.

The board majority still wants to go ahead with a ballot measure as soon as possible, but the two Payson-area representatives have rightly called for clear budget numbers before scheduling the election.

We agree.

EAC must clearly explain the per-student budget, the effect of the tuition increases and the elimination of the waiver for part-time senior students and exactly what GCC gets for the 25 percent overhead fee it pays to EAC.

We believe that Rim Country’s economic future remains tied to GCC’s offerings — not to mention the ability of our children to remain in this community once they graduate from high school. GCC manages to deliver first-rate classes at a much lower cost than almost any community college in the state — so we believe that GCC can make a strong claim for public support.

But we see little point in going to the voters until EAC opens the books and starts answering the vital questions posed by the GCC board.

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