In its first meeting of the new year, Star Valley has a packed agenda Tuesday.
The council will discuss an agreement for a backup water supply with Payson, take a first look at a water ordinance establishing Star Valley’s water company and likely approve a measure that has Payson respond to after-hour water calls.
Also on the agenda, the council could appoint a new member to the board tasked with bringing a four-year university to Payson. The 6:30 p.m. meeting is held at the Star Valley Town Hall on East Highway 260.
“It is going to be a busy meeting,” said Town Manager and Attorney Tim Grier.
Earlier this month, the Payson Town Council approved its end of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) providing Star Valley backup water should a well break down or a water pipe burst.
Star Valley approached Payson with the idea months ago, hoping Payson would team up with Brooke Utilities, who owned the water company in Star Valley at the time.
Now that Star Valley has entered into the water business by buying out Brooke Utilities, the agreement with Payson will be with Star Valley.
When needed, Star Valley would pay for water and Payson would send water through existing piping for the Tower Well.
While the Tower Well initially divided the towns, it has brought them back together, Grier said.
Star Valley residents worried Payson would suck the water supply dry through over pumping. A group of residents banned together and formed the town.
Buying out the local water company, Brooke Utilities, was one of the town’s first goals, but Brooke’s president, Robert Hardcastle, was not willing to sell. A large price forced the town to back away from the idea.
It was not until Star Valley approached Hardcastle late last year with the idea of Payson providing a backup water supply for Brooke that talks for the water company started again.
“At the end of that meeting, (Hardcastle) asked if we were still interested in buying it,” Grier said. “It was not even on our radar screen then … I guess we thought the price would be too high.”
But Hardcastle came back with a price Star Valley could pay and for the last few months, town staff has been working to transfer the water company over.
With Payson signing the IGA, Star Valley is assured if water supplies dip low, residents will not run out of water.
Even more importantly, the IGA supports the positive relationship between the two towns, Grier said.
“It really solidifies the relationship between Payson and Star Valley,” he said. “It shows there is a real cooperation between the two communities.”
In addition to a backup water supply, the IGA details that Payson will respond to after-hour water calls in Star Valley.
Grier said it is cost prohibitive for Star Valley to have a water operator on call 24/7 and since Payson already has a system in place, it is no extra burden for them to take our calls.
“We would really have trouble doing that with the number of our workers,” he said. “They would charge us for the cost of calls. Luckily, we don’t have a lot of after-hour calls.”
The neighborliness that has developed between the towns extends beyond IGAs, Grier said.
Buzz Walker, Payson’s water director, Debra Galbraith, Payson’s town manager and Payson’s Mayor Kenny Evans have helped Grier and town staff through the process of taking over a water company.
Walker helped set up Payson’s water company and has extended his knowledge with Star Valley’s management plan, Grier said.
“It has been a tremendous help.”
It is anticipated Star Valley’s council will unanimously support the IGA as well as the first reading of a water ordinance.
The ordinance establishes rules and regulations needed for the town to run a water company. This is the first of two public hearings on the ordinance, Grier said.
When this ordinance is in place, the town will adopt a water rate plan.
Mike Vogel, the president of the Rim Country Educational Alliance SLE board establishing a four-year university in Payson, is expected to present recommendations to fill a spot on the board.
In December, board member Suzanne Cummins resigned after Vogel asked her to step down.
James Scott Scheidt, a member of Payson’s Planning and Zoning Commission, was recommended to fill her spot. The Scottsdale-based Winners Development Group, which represents a bulk of the investors and has played a role in developing plans for the campus and various spin-off facilities, recommended Scheidt.
At a Dec. 27 council meeting, Star Valley councilors said they were reluctant to appoint Scheidt and wanted more candidates to choose from. It is anticipated that Vogel will present a list of nominees, although no one has seen this list, Grier said.
Business license fee
Appearing on the agenda for the second time, the council will discuss doing away with a $50 annual business license fee.
Councilor George Binney suggested the town eliminate the fee at a Dec. 27 meeting — but still require the license — as a way to attract new businesses and give existing owners a break.
The council said it needed more time and information before it decided to rescind the fee.
Grier said he expects a heated discussion on the topic, with some councilors opposed to the idea.