Military Skills Help Juggling Job



The organizational skills needed as an Air Force officer are helping Payson's new planning specialist Gary Butkus juggle the many aspects of his job.

Butkus joined the staff of the town's Community Development Department at the end of December.


Gary Butkus

He worked as a teacher in Mesa before coming to Payson. He was the ROTC class instructor. In addition to his teaching and Air Force experience, Butkus has a degree in urban planning and previously worked for the planning and public works department in Norwalk, Ohio.

He said he and his wife have lived in Arizona off and on for about 15 years and always enjoyed coming up to Payson because of the recreational atmosphere. Serving in the Air Force, he also went all over the world, but still decided Payson would be a nice place to live.

They are now building a home here and should be moving into it sometime in September.

"One of my primary jobs is code enforcement. With the many complaints from around the community, keeping them all active -- there are 60 open -- organization is quite critical," Butkus said.

The most frequent complaints that land on his desk are about abandoned vehicles littering yards.

The first thing he does is contact the owner of the vehicle if that can be determined and then works with them regarding their responsibilities and provides them with resource information to take care of the problem.

Another common complaint is about dead trees in yards.

The complainant is usually concerned about the risk to their trees if insects or disease killed the neighboring trees and the fire hazard they represent.

Butkus said home-based businesses generate a lot of complaints too.

He said these are usually because the business has become too successful and is exceeding the amount of traffic they promised to see when first applying for their license.

He helps the owners find ways to meet the requirements for home-based businesses.

Unsightly premises are in the top 10 too, he said.

"Fortunately for me, the code is very specific, but there are some judgment calls that must be made," Butkus said.

The planning specialist also does site plan evaluations for the Community Development Department, making sure they comply with all the zoning regulations, "So I get to meet all the excited new homeowners."

Butkus said he expects his work will grow as the town grows and as more people learn that there is an agency available to help with their concerns. So, he thinks his organizational skills will become more essential to getting the work finished.

"I love the job.

"When I can help people solve a problem it makes me smile," Butkus said.


Name: Gary Butkus

Occupation: Planning Specialist

Employer: Town of Payson

Age: Youthful

Birthplace: Oak Park, Ill.

Family: Married

Personal motto: The harder you work, the luckier you get

Goal: Make a contribution

Greatest feat: Military pilot and Braniff International pilot

My favorite hobby or leisure activity is hiking.

The three words that describe me best are friendly, honest, persistent.

I don't want to brag, but bald is beautiful.

The person in history I'd most like to meet is Moses.

Luxury defined: Having someone pick the seeds out of the watermelon.

Dream vacation spot: Secluded Caribbean beach

Why Payson? Clean air, blue skies, great people.

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