Newly Elected Mayor Makes Plans For Payson's Future

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Ken Murphy becomes Payson's mayor June 13 when he is formally sworn into office. But he is already thinking like the man in charge, and right now he is developing plans for the next two years.

The first thing he wants to do: "Get us through the summer without a major fire," he said.

While the town's safety this summer is a priority, another fundamental problem is at the top of Murphy's agenda.

"I want to bring people back together. The whole community is pretty fractionalized," he said.

Murphy also wants to involve everyone in the process.

"I can't do it alone. The council can't do it alone. We need everyone to participate."

Another priority is giving the public a sense that the town staff is there to provide a service to the residents. He said he wants customer service to improve.

"It's always been a high priority, but I don't know if the application has always been there," Murphy said.

With the budget process looming, a major challenge is having reliable revenue projections with which to build the town's spending plan, he said. There are a couple of factors this year that the town has not faced in the past: the economic downturn and the changes in the level of state funding the town receives.

There are a number of residents' concerns that arose during the campaign Murphy would like the council to address: infrastructure improvements, such as the roads and controlling the dust on the dirt roads in town.

"We need to successfully work with the county, the Forest Service, the tribe and neighboring communities in a regional effort to secure a water supply, build a regional lake and have access to surface water that is currently controlled by the Salt River Project," he said.

Also on Murphy's "to do" list for the next two years: fix all the bad roads; get rid of methamphetamine in Payson; have a festival every weekend at the event center.

"These are big things, but I think they are attainable if we work together as a community. If we are not unified in our efforts, success is harder to come by," Murphy said.

On the economic front, he said he would like to see some private investment in the revitalization of Main Street. In time the Main Street area should have multiple shops and entertainment venues, and be a nice place for people to walk.

"It needs to be made the real centerpiece for the town," he said.

He wants to have the 2-percent tax on food removed, and is proposing to phase it out over a period of years, but reducing it by a quarter or half of a percent.

"It is a regressive tax and effects those who can least afford it," Murphy said.

He would also like to see an effort made to attract some good-paying jobs in non-polluting, low-water-use industries to the community.

"Government's goal is not to give incentives away, but to make the relocation process easier (for business and industry)," Murphy said.

He said what the residents want is more important than what he wants, but the support of everyone is needed to accomplish these goals.

"I guess it takes a village to raise a mayor," he said.

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