Budget Amended, Bed Tax Hiked

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In a move that will bring an additional $63,000 to the general fund, the Payson Town Council on Thursday unanimously approved raising the bed tax at hotels and motels within the town's limits from 2 percent to 3 percent.

The council has no mandate, but has set a general policy that the money be used for tourism-related expenses.

The council discussed the adoption of the FY 1999-2000 budget of $30.5 million, but amended that figure, excluding $491,800 that would allow the town to assume responsibility for garbage collection and recycling.

The council had considered awarding a contract to a private hauler, but Town Manager Rich Underkofler said, "I have not been able to find a way to insulate the town from damage claims. I don't think this idea has merit anymore because of ethical concerns."

He said that two contractors currently doing business in Payson would not agree to share the market and that if either lost business as a result of the town's actions, the town could be liable.

Underkofler talked about the possibility of creating an agreement with the City of Flagstaff to handle a recycling program.

Council member Ken Murphy, who voted against the amendment to strike the $491,800, said that the issue was not just trash -- that having two companies' trucks going through the neighborhoods created wear and tear on the streets.

The council unanimously approved the motion to adopt the FY 1999-2000 tentative budget of $30,004,692 and increased the amount in the contingency fund from $200,000 to $400,000.

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