Council Ranks Top Priorities

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Water remains the top priority of the Payson Town Council, the only issue receiving unanimous support among 28 under consideration for inclusion in the town's corporate strategic plan.

At a special meeting Thursday evening, water headed a base list of 11 items the council indicated it wanted to emphasize over the next one to three years. The other items made the list because a majority of four or more councilmembers supported their inclusion at a preliminary meeting held Jan. 28.

Ranking behind water with six council votes out of a possible seven are "continue to emphasize road improvements and chip sealing" and "develop drug awareness, educational enforcement program."

Five issues received the support of five councilmembers. They are "support economic development," "lease out and improve event center," "continue to implement Green Valley/Main Street plan," "affordable housing," and "make airport self-sustaining through economic development."

The final three items, each receiving support from four councilmembers, include "continue planning for community center," "cover the swimming pool," and "develop a contingency budget with 'what if' scenarios."

Two items that were upgraded to the priority list include "complete vote by mail plan," which only two councilmembers originally supported, and "look for grant money for a transportation system," which was added to the list Thursday evening.

The remaining 16 items received the support of two or fewer councilmembers and were either eliminated or left on the list as ongoing initiatives. The latter includes such items as "improve communication with the public," "customer service training program for town employees," and "McLane Road and Mud Springs Road street improvements."

The corporate strategic plan covers a three-year period and is updated annually. While former Town Manager Rich Underkofler tied the plan's priorities to budget numbers from the outset, Udall told the council he wants to take a different approach.

This year's plan, he said, will focus on programs and services rather than numbers.

"That way, you guys set the tone and the direction, and (the staff) comes behind you and figures out how to do it," he said. "(The plan) should be a guide to how the staff prepares the operating and capital budgets."

The interim town manager reassured the council that the corporate strategic plan will continue to be a guide for next year's fiscal budget. In fact, he indicated it should be a more useful tool than it was under the previous administration.

"Departments will be required to reflect within their operating and capital budgets where programs link to the corporate strategic plan," he said.

With the council's priorities in hand, Udall will prepare a draft of the strategic plan that will be presented for consideration March 19. A public hearing and final adoption will take place April 25.

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