The effort to bring a four-year university to the Rim Country is getting $12,500 in economic development assistance from Gila County.
All three supervisors — Tommie Martin, Dist. 1; John Marcanti, Dist. 3; and Mike Pastor, Dist. 2, and chair of the board — agreed a four-year university would boost the economy of the entire county.
But Pastor said the people pushing for the university needed to first give the supervisors a report on how they spent the $12,500 awarded last year and that the supervisors “always” ask for such a report.
However, neither Supervisor Martin nor a former county official could ever recall the supervisors asking for such an accounting from previous recipients of county economic development money, mostly from Globe.
For instance the Bullion Plaza and Cultural Center and Museum in Miami, Ariz., has received twice as much money but never had to make a report on how it spent the money. The museum’s representatives have talked about repairs made and new and improved exhibits, but have not linked any of that work with the dollars coming from the county — and the taxpayers.
Granted, the museum is a brick and mortar structure and the four-year university is still a work in progress. Perhaps it’s a matter of comparing apples and oranges.
But the Rim Country has apples to compare with the southern part of the county’s apples.
Gila County leaders pride themselves on operating according to sound fiscal policies, so it is not out of the ordinary to ask for an accounting for economic development grants throughout Gila County.
But so far almost all of the economic development money has gone to Globe — including the Bullion Plaza Museum, the Old Dominion Mine Park, the south-centric Industrial Development Authority and the Gila County Fairgrounds. None of the leaders responsible for these entities have been asked for a formal accounting — at least not in any of the meetings of the Gila County Board of Supervisors covered by the Payson Roundup over the last several years.
No economic development funds have been awarded to the Rim Country Museum in the last eight years, according to a museum official, which struggles financially to preserve the region’s pioneer heritage — as do the grant recipients in Globe and Miami.