Sanitary District Has Long-Term Plan

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You’ve got hope.

And you’ve got plans.

And you’d better hope the plans work out.

So we’re thankful for the Northern Gila County Sanitary District’s far-sighted plans to increase its capacity so it can serve Payson even when the town hits a build-out population of 38,000.

But we can’t help but contrast that careful, long-term planning process to the Payson Unified School District’s short-sighted fire sale of Frontier Elementary School — even though the district will almost certainly one day have to build another school.

Of course, the sanitary district’s plan to spend $16 million to increase its capacity from 2.2 million gallons a day to 3.5 million gallons a day provokes both controversies and uncertainties.

The recent election focused on the district’s hefty impact fees, which can discourage development. That’s especially true for commercial properties, which remain vital to our economic future. The district has accumulated a roughly $15 million reserve fund, some of it from impact fees, some of it from the $1.1 million it collects annually in property taxes. The careful accumulation of that money has allowed the district to make $10 million in improvements in recent years and still avoid taking on debt for this phased, $16 million doubling. That’s far-sighted and conservative in the best sense.

Of course, we hope the reconstituted board of directors will think hard about whether the district still needs the impact fees that enabled it to accumulate those funds. The district has enough money on hand to pay for the first, $9 million phase of the expansion. It even has a good chunk of the remaining $7 million it needs to accommodate a Payson population of 38,000 — which it surely won’t need to complete for some years.

We urge the board to reduce those impact fees to the lowest possible level, so that excessive fees won’t stall the recovery of Payson’s construction industry.

Of course, other critical uncertainties remain.

The backers of the plan to build a 6,000-student university and various spin-off businesses have provided the sanitary district with none of the specifics it needs to take the needs of the college into account. This seems like a lamentable oversight, given that the sanitary district must move forward with its expansion plans.

In addition, the sanitary district’s plans don’t include Star Valley. That’s probably not nearly as critical, since providing a wastewater treatment system for Star Valley will undoubtedly involve the construction of a new treatment plant, given the region’s geography and the expense of pumping uphill.

In the meantime, we’re happy that the sanitary district has mixed short-term fiscal caution with long-range planning. It offers a lesson for other agencies.

Payson School Board — are you listening? We hope so.

Op, op, op, Rim Country

Went to the Lip Sync spectacular on Saturday — which offered one more reason to love living in Rim Country — as though we needed another.

What a great bunch of kids — and teachers.

You wouldn’t believe the acts — the laughs, the energy, the choreography. Blew us away — or at least made us fall down laughing.

The act that won the coveted audience choice award reproduced the Korean pop Internet sensation “Gangnam Style,” a hypnotically bizarre song. Google it. You-Tube it. It’s just weird — but not as fun to watch as Daniel Walling and Cody Schuler’s lip sync of the song. We can’t even begin to calculate the hours of practice those two teenagers must have put into the performance.

Of course, the kids staged one great act after another — all done with such joy and hard work that it restores your faith in the future.

But that’s not all. The whole community joined in, using the event to raise $4,000 in scholarships for local kids — that includes groups as diverse as the Soroptimists and local motorcycle clubs. Some 300 people crowded into the auditorium and many bid in the silent auction — all to raise money for our kids.

It’s enough to send you home toe-tapping, grinning and singing: “oppan Gangnam style, Gangnam style, op, op, op, op, oppan Gangnam style.”

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