Better late than never.
So after waiting nearly a year, the Payson Town Council last week had the happy task of accepting a nearly $400,000 refund from the Arizona Department of Transportation for its up-front money to build a highway roundabout.
ADOT footed the bill for the bulk of the $1.2 million traffic circle at the intersection of Highway 87 and Airport Road, which should help control traffic without causing summer weekend gridlock. Studies suggest that roundabouts cause fewer accidents and traffic delays than four-way stop signals.
Normally, towns have to put up 10 to 20 percent of the cost of ADOT projects within the town boundaries. However, a year ago ADOT indicated that it had applied for a federal stimulus grant, which would cover Payson’s share of the cost of the roundabout.
However, ADOT noted — Payson would have to front the money and get it back as soon as ADOT received the federal money.
Happily, the council signed on the dotted line. The project came in the midst of the recession, with sales tax revenue falling and building permit revenues non-existent. The town has canceled even most routine street maintenance project for the past two years.
However, Payson scraped together the last of its capital improvement money and plunked it down as a deposit on the ADOT roundabout.
So time passes. A month. Another.
Another. Eleven months later, ADOT sent word that if the council would pass the appropriate resolution, Payson could have its deposit back. Done and done.
“Sorry it took 11 months to get the money back,” Public Works Director LaRon Garrett told the council last week.
“I enthusiastically move this resolution,” beamed Councilor Ed Blair.
Vote: 7-0. Payson Mayor Kenny Evans concluded, “Send them a letter. I think by now, after a year, we’ll just drop the ‘please.’”