Council Oks Budget, Broadband

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In consecutive Payson Town Council meetings last Thursday night, members approved the fiscal 2003-2004 budget and plans to bring broadband Internet to Payson, but a controversial zoning change plan heated up the council chambers.

Cutting back

After council members spent months deliberating, they took less than a minute to approve the budget for 2003-04 in a 6-0 vote. Councilor Judy Buettner was not in attendance.

Vice Mayor Barbara Brewer said the budget passed without complication because of the amount of time the council spent on it previously.

"It was just the final step," she said. "The budget had been gone over and over again, several times."

Every area of the town from the water department to the fire department cut back expenditures, Brewer said.

"You have to make sure you have enough money to pay bills," she said. "You have to use common sense to protect your community in times of shortfalls."

Brewer referred to state-shared revenues that were cut by close to $300,000. State-shared revenues are what the state receives in taxes throughout a given year.

Glenn Smith, chief fiscal officer, said the cutbacks in this year's budget will not hurt the town. "It's a lot tighter," he said. "It was about as tight as we could get it without reducing service levels."

Banding together

The council also unanimously approved plans to bring broadband Internet to Payson.

Broadband Internet, otherwise known as high-speed Internet, allows one wire to connect many users to the Internet, as opposed to dial-up modems or narrow band Internet.

In a unanimous vote, the council approved a plan that would allow Canyon Broadband to install its equipment on or near town water tanks.

The vote was passed with an emergency clause.

"It passed with an emergency to allow them to get started immediately," Mayor Ken Murphy said. He said the project could be under way about three months from now.

Brewer said the vote was unanimous because broadband Internet will further advance Payson into the modern world.

"It's really important to move the community forward," she said. "It's progress and we were able to put it on water tanks instead of building new communication towers."

The equipment installation will be paid for by Canyon Broadband.

In the zone

Representatives from Payson Pines Properties attended the meeting Thursday for the first reading of a zoning change plan that would bring them one step closer to building a new subdivision on north McLane Road.

The change would allow Payson Pines to build on the property, but the question that remains is how many lots will be installed.

The parcel of land would allow for 42 lots to be built. Payson Pines wants 32, but the council said it would only approve 20 of them unless Payson Pines finds a new water source for the other lots.

Brian Young, Payson Pines sales manager, said the council's move is unfair and that his company has owned 42 water credits since the land's original owner downsized and sold them.

Brewer said Payson Pines is mistaken in thinking the water credits would transfer.

Brewer said by not allowing all 32 lots, "We end up with more water, which is good in the long term for the town. We're looking out for the people here, not the people coming. We have to. They can't build anything on there greater than 20 lots."

On the other hand, Young said Payson Pines is working on a plan now that would allow the company to build more than 20 lots and that the water credits are rightfully the company's.

"It boils down to our contention that we have residual water rights," he said. "We already have the water source ... I made that clear at the council meeting. We felt there was no basis for them to extinguish those credits and we regard that as taking."

He said the plan should be done within the next couple of weeks, but would not go into details about how the plan would prove the water credits all belong to Payson Pines.

The council will vote on the zoning change, among other items, at 6 p.m. this Thursday at town hall, 303 N. Beeline Highway. The meeting is open to the public.

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