New 'Rules' Would Give Mayor More Clout

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The town council has another long evening scheduled Thursday with a corporate strategic plan meeting at 5 p.m. followed by the regular council meeting at 6 p.m.

Chief Fiscal Officer Glenn Smith is scheduled to walk the council through the fiscal policies section of the plan at the early session, according to Interim Town Manager Kelly Udall.

The plan, which covers the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, is built around a prioritized list of council initiatives developed from a preliminary meeting held in January and refined at subsequent meetings. Udall hopes the plan will be ready for adoption at the regular council meeting April 25.

New 'rules of procedure'

When the regular meeting convenes at 6 p.m., the council will consider a resolution adopting a 22-page document setting forth the "Rules of Procedure" for town council meetings.

"The document just tightens things down more exactly," said Udall. "Especially for the new council, that will be good."

Udall cited a section on agenda preparation that he believes will clear up confusion and make the council more effective.

"Under the existing code, it was not really clear what it takes to get an item on the agenda," Udall said. "In the past, it took at least three council members."

Under the proposed rules, an item may be placed on the agenda "by written request of any town council member to the mayor or town manager. That helps keep us out of problems with the open meetings law," Udall said. "This way, a council member won't get in trouble contacting other council members to drum up support for an item."

Udall said he will also encourage the council to identify the sponsor of an item on the agenda.

The proposed document also gives the mayor broad powers related to public comments. Specifically it grants the mayor power to:

Determine whether public comment will be allowed on a particular agenda item.

"Limit the number of speakers heard on non-agenda topics ... to allow the meeting to proceed and end in a timely manner."

Limit the number of people allowed to address a single topic "if it appears that several speakers desire to speak...."

Golf ball deal delayed

Approval of a proposed sale of five lots in Sky Park Industrial Subdivision to Phoenix Golf Ball Company is expected to be tabled Thursday evening, town attorney Sam Streichman said.

"We don't have a signed agreement, so we'll probably ask the council to table the item," Streichman said.

The Mesa-based golf ball manufacturing and distribution company wanted to buy the five lots a combined 2.04 acres to build a 20,000-square-foot manufacturing, warehouse and distribution facility. Under the terms of the deal, the company would agree to employ at least 20 people and complete construction of its initial facility and be in operation within one year.

Udall is optimistic the setback is temporary.

"I talked with Bob Russo, and he doesn't have a problem with the purchase," Udall said. "There are just some family difficulties he is trying to sort through."

Udall said the parties are scheduled to sit down Monday to try and finalize the deal.

Affordable housing boost

The council also will be asked to provide temporary assistance to the Payson Regional Housing Development Corporation, a group that is planning an affordable housing project at the southern end of the Kaibab property off Aero Drive.

"We are asking the council to assist this group because they don't yet have their 501(c)3 tax exempt status," Udall said.

The group plans to build 24 three-bedroom units and 16 two-bedroom units for low to moderate income renters.

Another Garcia session

Finally, the council plans to adjourn into executive session to once again take up the purchase of the Garcia property at Main Street and McLane Road.

"Our backup offer has expired, so we are going to ask the council what they want to do," Udall said. "There's quite a cloud over the title, but the two parties Danny Garcia and Triad Corporation are negotiating, so it is hopefully starting to get cleared up."

The Garcia property, which the town wants to purchase for $660,000, and the Payson Humane Society property are the first of a group of properties the town plans to acquire for housing development, commercial office development, open space, public parking areas, or even a possible hotel.

According to Community Development Director Bob Gould, the plan is to eventually create "an attractive area where we can have trees and walkways and do a lot of different things similar to the Indian Bend Wash concept down in the Valley." He also emphasized that the Garcia property contains two structures of significant historic value the Pieper Mansion and the only remaining mudhouse in the state of Arizona.

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