With a subdivision moratorium looming just over the horizon, the town of Payson will soon have to find a new way or two to raise more revenue.
In fact, with new housing starts already starting to flatten out, your town council recently had to raise the property tax rate just to get by for the next fiscal year. What's going to happen when housing really goes in the dumper?
When faced with similar crises, many communities and Native American tribes have turned to legalized gambling as a source of revenue. After all, it's about as close to free money as you can get.
Of course, the Tonto Apache Tribe and the Payson Elks Lodge have the gambling market cornered here in the Rim country. I mean, how many slot machines and Bingo nights can one community support.
Since renaming town hall the Payson Town & Bingo Hall isn't an option, we need to come up with a form of legalized gaming that doesn't infringe on anybody else's territory. Here's my idea.
We set up a betting window at Town Hall and at Circle Ks and similar retail locations around town where people can place their bets on a number of wagers customized to our community.
Townspeople and flatlanders alike will rush to put their money on one or more of the following:
- How long will the next town council meeting last?
- How long before another town councilor whips his or her badge out and flashes it for fun or traffic enforcement?
- How long before the wells run dry and we have to vacate the premises like the early Mogollon people?
- How long before anybody sees a drop of water from the Blue Ridge Reservoir?
Another way we could go:
- Since cock fights have become too sleazy, the town could sponsor celebrity mud rasslin' matches every Friday night and take wagers. Who wouldn't put money on matches like these:
Mayor Barbara Brewer vs. Vice Mayor Judy Buettner.
Jim Hill, owner of The Door Stop, vs. Ernie Pritchard, leader of Citizens Against Noise and Industrial Travesties (CANIT).
Ex-mayor Ken Murphy vs. ex-fire marshal Jack Babb.
Legislative liaison Lionel "Marty" Martinez vs. anybody down at the state capitol crazy enough to take him on.
County Supervisor Ron Christensen vs. Brooke Utilities president Robert Hardcastle (who would, of course, wear a mask to protect his anonymity).
How about a tag-team match pitting Don Crowley and Gordon Metcalf vs. Councilor Robert Henley and ex-mayor Ken Murphy?
The last match of the evening each Friday could be a free-for-all featuring such combatants as:
Payson Christians vs. the Lions Club.
The girls of Pete's Place vs. the ladies of the Star Valley Southern Baptist Church (no Bibles or clear plastic platform shoes allowed).
The Payson Humane Society vs. the Coconino County Sheriff's Department.
The Payson Pro Rodeo Committee vs. the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce (Yes, they're still bickering.).
Tyler Parkway residents vs. anybody who messes with them.
Salt River Project legal team vs. Payson Water Department.
Of course mud rasslin' isn't the cure-all for the financial woes of government. If it were, every town, county and state in America would jump on the mud wagon. (Can't you just see Napolitano vs. Hull or Symington vs. Mecham?)
The city of Seattle recently came up with a alternative revenue-generating idea that I think could also be adapted to Payson. Because people in those parts not only drink but breathe coffee, the city considered imposing a 10-cent tax on any beverage with at least half an ounce of espresso in it.
The town of Payson could make a fortune if it collected 10 cents each time:
- A local appears in public wearing a Payson Concrete & Materials cap.
- A town council meeting runs over two hours.
- A rumor starts that Pine is about to be evacuated.
- A decibel reading is taken.
- A councilor flashes his or her badge.
- A picture of a dead elk appears in the Payson Roundup.
- An action-adventure "B" movie plays at Sawmill Theatres.
- A politician tries to make political hay out of a forest fire.
- Public comments are moved to a different place on the town council agenda.
- A fight breaks out at an Airport Advisory Committee meeting.
- A new Republican women's club forms.
- A Rim country community gets into a fight over its volunteer fire department.