Interim Town Manager Appointed

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Payson has a new town manager at least for the time being.

After a motion to go into executive session to consider appointing Administrative Services Director Kelly Udall interim town manager was defeated, Udall was appointed to the position unanimously. Mayor Ray Schum called him the best person for the job.

"In good personnel management, you use the best qualified person to fill the vacancy that you have," Schum said. "It's as simple as that. Not only is (Udall) the best qualified man for that job, he's a logical man to do it, and it fits right in with his career path. The man wants to be a city manager, he has about eight years experience, he has a master's degree, and we ought to help him get to where he wants to go."

Councilmember Hoby Herron had requested in writing that the appointment be considered in executive session. Herron said he made the request in part because he believed the council should have been consulted before the selection was made public, and because he had doubts about whether Udall is the right person for the job.

The position will become vacant Jan. 5 when current town manager Rich Underkofler begins a new job as town manager of Mattoon, Ill.

Udall, 39, has been with the Town of Payson since Feb., 1995. He previously served as resources director for Routt County in Colorado. He has a bachelor's degree in sociology from Arizona State University and a master's in public administration from the University of Colorado.

Udall says he will use the interim period to consider whether to seek the position permanently.

"I'll use it as a time to evaluate how I like the job how it fits," he said.

As interim town manager, Udall will receive a stipend of $500 per month for the additional duties and responsibilities.

The council was divided over a companion motion to hire an executive search consultant to recruit and select a permanent replacement for Underkofler. Herron and Councilmember Ken Murphy argued that such an expenditure would be a waste of the taxpayers' money.

Without the executive session, the final council meeting of the year was over in just under two hours. Because of the holidays, the council only meets once a month in October, November and December.

The council also held a public hearing on a proposed 15 percent increase in water rates for customers whose consumption is greater than 5,000 gallons per month. The increase, an attempt to increase conservation, will take effect in February.

During peak use months, the increase would affect about half of the town's water customers, according to Public Works Director Buzz Walker. In winter months, Walker estimates less than one-third would be affected.

Underkofler proposed the increase based on recommendations contained in the Water Department's "Groundwater Management Status Report" and the Payson Strategic Plan for the current fiscal year. Noting recent increases in water usage, both documents call for consumption-related increases to encourage year-round conservation.

"The problem is our rates aren't high enough," the outgoing town manager said. "Our water, being the precious commodity it is, is just priced too low. If (this rate increase) doesn't reduce consumption if people just want to pay their bill we'll 'rat hole' (the extra revenue) for the next water development project, which is going to be very expensive."

(For more information on other agenda items, see the Council Briefs article in next Tuesday's Roundup.)

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