by Ray Schum
mayor, town of payson
All of us who call Payson home have a most important issue that is on the ballot for the primary election March 12. It is far more important than choosing a new mayor and three councilmembers; it is the "Home Rule Option."
To better understand what Home Rule actually is, think of it as pertaining to your own home. Put yourself as the head of household, where you and you alone are responsible for what goes on there. There is no doubt that other members in your family have influence on how you manage family affairs, but in the end you have Home Rule in your home.
Apply that same reasoning to the Home Rule Option you will be voting on in this next election. A "yes" vote for Home Rule will mean that we, in Payson, will determine our needs and manage our own affairs.
Like the head of the household, the town council is responsible for managing town affairs. Like members of your family, you as citizens have a lot of influence on how they manage town responsibilities. Elections are held every two years giving voters a chance to replace councilmembers who do not live up to their expectations. The only difference between your home and the Town of Payson is there are seven of them who vote on the various issues. It's the Democratic process, where the majority rules.
Voting "no" on the Home Rule Option would mean that state officials down in Phoenix would determine our needs and as such manage our affairs. A "no" vote would mean that we have lost control over our own destiny. Officials who we don't know, who do not live here, and chances are that we would never see, determine our needs. Whereas, town council members are required to be residents and registered voters. They all have phone extensions at town hall. Most of the people recognize them in public where they are available to respond to your needs.
Why does this Home Rule Option even exist and how does it work? To save my soul, I cannot think of a single reason why it exists. I can, however, give you some ideas on how it works.
Establishing next year's budget is now in process. Working from projections the total budget would be $26,524,487. Without Home Rule, the state would set our budget at $19,520,640. That is 27 percent short of projected needs. Because there would be sizeable exceptions that require payment, a better comparison, again from projections, would be to compare the town's operating expenses of $16,444,101, to the state set limitation of $9,417,254 or 57 percent of our needs.
Let us once again consider our individual home. From your known available dollars, subtract your required payments like your mortgage, car payment, insurance, etc. You would have to reduce your living expenses for food, clothing, gasoline, eating out, all of your utilities, and going to the movies by 42 percent. Could you do it? The town would be reduced to total ineffectiveness, regardless who gets elected.
All nonessential services would stop. The library might even have to close. There would be extremely limited recreational programs for our children. Water exploration would be seriously cut. The streets would get worse. The police and fire departments would be reduced to inefficient forces. For sure, every department in town would be affected by lay-offs.
For those who would jump to the conclusion that a 42 percent reduction in the operating budget would mean a similar reduction in your taxes, not true. Your income tax, property tax, vehicle license tax, and sales tax would remain the same. We all would lose if we lost the Home Rule Option.
A "yes" vote on the Home Rule Option is extremely important for all of us, and for our very survival.