Council Sets Strategy For $28 Million Draft Budget

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If you're wondering where the town's money goes -- and why -- take a look at the 1999 Payson Strategic Plan, available to the public in the Finance Department at Town Hall.

The plan, adopted by the Payson Town Council Thursday, sets the stage for discussions next month on how the town will spend close to $28 million in 1999-2000.

The council has used the strategic planning process since 1993 to prioritize the needs of the town. Once adopted, the strategies map out the objectives for the coming year and the future.

Included in this year's strategic plan are recommendations for the 1999-2000 town budget, which is scheduled for adoption Aug. 5. As those recommendations now stand, Payson residents will probably see no increases in property tax, sales tax, water rates and building permit fees during the coming year.

Town Manager Rich Underkofler said his budget recommendations are based on guidelines laid out in the town's updated plan.

"That generally provides the guide," he said. "Back in January and February, all the department heads submitted their requests." Chief Fiscal Officer Glenn Smith put the requests together and came up with the budget draft.

Of eight priority items listed in the draft for next year's recommended budget, five come under the heading of public safety. In the Corporate Strategic Plan, Underkofler recommended adding 11 new hires, 10 of them in public safety, which would increase the town's payroll by more than $533,000.

The council Thursday night rejected the addition of three priority items in the draft -- the addition of five police patrol officers at more than $242,000, hiring a customer service representative at a salary of $33,000 in the Community Development Department, and hiring an additional police sergeant at a yearly wage of more than $56,000.

"Instead, it looks like there may be sufficient funding for two or three officers if the council reallocates expenditures planned for the new rodeo grounds from the general fund to the bed tax fund," Underkofler said after Thursday's meeting.

He said another item that is on the table is increasing the bed tax from $1 per night to 3 percent of gross sales. The bed tax money could then be used for rodeo events and for the new event center.

The Town Council is considering the following additional public safety expenses for the next fiscal year:

  • The town will need $13,750 for increased operating expenses for the Payson North Fire/EMT Substation.
  • More than $160,000 will be needed to staff the new substation.
  • Three new full-time fire engineers will be hired and three current firefighters will be promoted to lieutenant positions. Another firefighter will be hired and paid from increased revenue from fire protection agreements with the Tonto Apache Tribe and the Mesa del Caballo Fire District.
  • Payson Police dispatchers should see a wage increase of up to 10 percent higher than the prevailing market rates. Town staff recommends the increase to reduce turnover in the department.

The council voted 6-1 in favor of the amended motion to adopt the Corporate Strategic Plan.Council member Hoby Herron voted against the motion.

Council will discuss the budget itself with staff at public work study sessions on June 2 and 9. The council is expected to adopt the tentative budget on or before July 20.

Music ordinance rejected
In other business Thursday, the council lowered the boom on an ordinance that would have limited the noise from boom boxes.

During the public commentary, Jim Buettner said he agreed with the ordinance, but did not understand why it was not more broad. Buettner, who lives by Green Valley Park, said he is often bothered by people bringing boom boxes to the park.

Resident Stacy Porter argued against the noise ordinance. "This ordinance is ridiculous," she said, contending that the sound from any boom box going by in a car is only heard for a brief time.

Council member Jack Monschein agreed. "If you're sitting in your house, it's gone in 10 to 12 seconds. I'm not for throwing roadblocks at our young people."

Council member Ken Murphy said, "I agree with Jack -- I'm a little bit sick of passing more ordinances."

Council member Ray Schum said there were too many loopholes in the ordinance.

The council voted to reject the "boom box ordinance" 4-3 with Herron, Mayor Vern Stiffler and Council member Jim Spencer dissenting.

In other action Thursday evening, the council did adopt an ordinance amending the Town Code to make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to urinate or defecate in public.

"Somebody explain to me why we're doing this," said Monschein.

"I don't think we need it," Murphy said.

The ordinance passed 5-2, with Murphy and Monschein casting the dissenting votes.

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