The Town of Star Valley enjoyed a generally quiet 2021. There were no major problems and even if there were, the town’s ongoing fiscally conservative operation would have made it relatively easy to deal with those problems.

“We’re in the unique position, financially, to do what we want to do, not just what needs to be done,” Tim Grier, town manager/attorney, told Mayor Gary Coon and the Star Valley council at a meeting in 2021.

No marijuana sales

January 2021 – The Star Valley Town Council passed an ordinance to prohibit the recreational sale of marijuana in Star Valley.

Tackling a noise ordinance

February 2021 – The Star Valley Town Council was scheduled to hear the first reading of an ordinance to regulate noise in the town at its Feb. 16 meeting.

Tim Grier, town manager and attorney, said the proposed ordinance was developed at the request of Mayor Gary Coon and Councilor Ray Armington. The request was in response to numerous complaints by residents of the Lamplighter RV Resort about outside music at the Tonto Rim Bar & Grill.

On the other side of the argument, there was concern that a noise ordinance would have an impact on when businesses could start operating the trucks they use in their operations.

Rather than taking any action, Mayor Gary Coon suggested the bar owner build a taller wall to mitigate the sound from outdoor bands, then if that didn’t work, the council would revisit the matter.

Street lights

April 2021 – After more than a year since a discussion of putting street lights along S.R. 260 through Star Valley started, it appeared illumination was not so far down the tunnel.

At its April 6 meeting, the Star Valley Town Council had an update on the streetlight project from Tim Grier, town manager/attorney. He said that the Arizona Department of Transportation has approved a permit for the town and APS to put lights along the road. He added he was in contact with APS regarding moving forward with the project.

The initial preparation work should be completed within the next week or so — digging the holes for the poles. APS will then come in and set the poles.

Going from grim to golden in the age of COVID

Back on St. Patrick’s Day 2020, Tim Grier and Chancy Nutt came to the Star Valley Town Council with grim predictions about revenues in the age of COVID-19.

While the town was in good financial shape at the outbreak of the pandemic and its accompanying lockdowns, Mayor Gary Coon warned, “Tax revenues are likely to decrease and that will impact council actions in the future.”

To Grier’s surprise the predictions of a lean, mean year or two in regard to town finances did not pan out — at least so far.

At its April 6 meeting, Grier told the council staff is projecting $7.4 million in the town’s fund reserve at the close of the 2020-21 fiscal year. Sales tax revenues are up; CARES Act money has bolstered the coffers; and the staff is seeing a budget surplus. On average the town is $80,000 in the black each month.

Star Valley has $10.5 million budget for 2022

Extra caution was used for Star Valley’s 2021 budget and it’s showing dividends with the 2022 financial plan.

The caution was taken due to anticipated revenue shortfalls from the pandemic and the dividends came from the influx of unexpected tourism dollars and federal money to offset COVID losses.

The Star Valley Town Council on July 6, approved a $10.5 million budget for 2022. Its budget for 2021 was $7.6 million. The $10.5 million budget includes many different funds, including those that are restricted — can only be used for limited purposes; the town’s rainy day fund; and court funds.

The precautions with the 2021 budget have resulted in $7.9 million being brought forward into the 2022 budget.

Water improvements

Between May and August 2021 the Star Valley Town Council discussed the best use of its next round of Community Development Block Grant funds.

Star Valley plans to use its newest round of CDBG money on a new water project, according to Tim Grier, town manager. It is being engineered and soon goes out to bid.

“The project will replace older undersized water pipes. The project budget is $110,000 with grant funds of $118,158,” he said.

A 10% cushion is built in to the $110,000 in case parts, labor or any other material comes back more expensive than projected.

Grier said staff feels this project will be fully funded by the grant and it will replace the aging and undersized piping in the system. It is the first phase of a three-phase project to replace older undersized pipes.

After an engineer draws up the design, the selection process for a contractor will begin. Once a contractor is selected the actual project phase will commence and upon project completion the close out process will begin.

The process is lengthy, explained Chancy Nutt, assistant town manager and finance administrator. She said it takes about 20 months.

The overall plan calls for 550 lineal feet from Highway 260 to Milky Way.

Another water project being engineered would replace an older undersized pipe that runs under the highway. This will provide a more reliable connection between the wells north and south of Highway 260.

Another water project being engineered would replace an older undersized pipe that runs under the highway. This will provide a more reliable connection between the wells north and south of Highway 260, by replacing the four-inch line with an eight-inch line at an estimated cost of $125,000.

Another CDBG project for the council to consider would add two, 25,000-gallon storage tanks at the Circle K well site.

This is a bigger project and would require a booster pump as well as a potential creek crossing. It is also likely to be in a floodway area that will require the base to be built up so that it could take a flood if that should occur.

The project budget is $265,000 with grant funds of $118,158 and leverage funds of $146,842. There are concerns about delays and availability of materials and running into timeline issues with the grant. There are also concerns about tank placement, which requires more research.

Development proposed

The council heard about plans for a home development in late July when developer Lee Martinez made a presentation. The property is a 12.2-acre site called Mogollon Meadows, formerly known as the Freegard Property, directly east of the Star Valley Town Hall. The site is designed to have 114 units, one green space in the top portion and a dog park in the back, plus its own wastewater treatment plant and solar panel array.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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