Incorporation could be on ballot this fall

Petition drive aims to have question up for vote this November

If a petition goes forward as planned, Tusayan voters will decide on the question of incorporation in the fall.

Residents Greg Bryan, Clayann Cook, John Dillon and Al Montoya are collecting signatures from registered voters - the first step to getting the question on the November ballot.

Bryan said they have about 30 signatures. The minimum is 14 - 10 percent of Tusayan's registered voters. Deadline to get on the ballot is May 5.

As chairman of a community task force that finished its work in December, Bryan was involved in four years of study into the pros and cons of incorporation. While the goal of the committee was to be as impartial as possible in presenting all sides of the question, Bryan said it's time for the discussion to change.

"Right now the fabric of the community is the businesses," he said. "That's not a criticism. They've shown some real character. But we're looking at moving forward to where people have a sense of roots and a sense of true community as opposed to a wide spot in the road."

After signatures are collected, the next step will be public meetings that will call for more community engagement.

"It's not just information," Bryan said. "Now it's choices."

That first choice - whether or not to incorporate - will open a range of other options for residents who, he said, don't have the ability to buy into the community.

"There are no roots and there is no potential to invest in things," he said. "With incorporation they'll have the opportunity to participate and have a voice."

Incorporation would enable Tusayan to levy a sales tax, which, at 4 percent, would raise an estimated $2.5 million in revenue. Some of that would have to support municipal government and police protection required of incorporated communities. That is estimated at $2.13 million, with nearly $770,000 going to law enforcement. If incorporation is approved in November through a simple majority vote, Tusayan would have until July 1 to have that structure in place and be ready to assume the costs.

"Will there be challenges? Of course," said Bryan. "Will it be a risk? You bet. But we think it's time to move the community forward."

They are consulting with other communities, such as the newly-incorporated Star Valley, to get a better idea of what to expect, he said.

He invited residents interested in learning more or in signing the petition to contact him at the Squire Inn.

As an alternative to incorporation, a separate group of business owners is pursuing a change in legislation that would allow for a special sales tax district. According to its proponents, this would allow for the benefit of revenue without the burden of supporting a municipal government.

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