Town Manager Says Mayor's Two-Year Term Too Short

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Payson voters will have the opportunity to change the term of the mayor from two years to four years if the town council approves putting it on the ballot for the 2006 primary election at its regular 6 p.m. meeting Thursday.

While the length of the term is a matter of local preference and varies among Arizona cities and towns, Town Manager Fred Carpenter is recommending that the item be placed before voters.

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Payson Town Manager Fred Carpenter

"When the voters originally approved the direct election of a mayor here in Payson back in 1985, they did it in a special election and they did it for two-year terms," Carpenter said.

"Some people, like state legislators, say that you barely get elected and you have to start running for the job again."

Town council members are currently elected for four-year terms. State statute requires voter approval to change the term of the mayor.

Rotating vice mayors

A related item on a busy agenda asks the council to consider changing the procedure for selecting the vice mayor.

"I've heard input from a few council members that instead of having a two-year term for the vice mayor that we might come up with some sort of a rotational plan so more people can be vice mayor," Carpenter said.

The vice mayor, who performs the duties of mayor in his or her absence, is currently selected by the council at the first meeting following its election. A survey of Arizona municipalities conducted by town staff showed that while most select a vice mayor to serve two years, some are selected for a one-year term and some for an eight-month term.

Carpenter said the change to shorter terms would cost the town more for business cards and name plates, but that the cost "would be rather small."

Town takeover of Channel 4

Also on the agenda Thursday evening is a request to extend the operating agreement with Arizona Communication Sites, the company that operates Channel 4, for three additional months preparatory to the town operating the government access channel itself.

"(Town) staff is recommending we take over operation of Channel 4," Carpenter said. "It's a government access channel and we feel we ought to operate it, but we've put in for a three month extension because we won't be ready (and) we have to get some budget expenditure authority for next year to do it."

In a report he prepared for the council, Deputy Town Manager and Chief Fiscal Officer Glenn Smith said the current quality of Channel 4's single camera broadcasts is unacceptable.

"One angle from this camera shows the back of the guests (who) are addressing the council," he said. "The motion from moving the camera from point to point can be very distracting.

"It is almost impossible to keep up with a conversation with one camera. From the viewers' perspective, this is very annoying and gives an impression that what is happening is unimportant."

Carpenter wants the town to purchase a four-camera system that would be controlled by a computer. Total cost of about $65,000 would be offset by $48,000 in NPG cable franchise fees, leaving the town with a balance of almost $19,000.

Silencing noise complaints

The council will also consider a request by Community Development Director Bob Gould to adopt a noise compatibility program for Payson Municipal Airport that would protect adjacent industrial areas from noise complaints.

"Some people think if we adopt ... all those procedures, it will insulate the industrial park out there because people would (be required to) build their homes a little stronger," Carpenter said.

"But if you embrace it you have to do a sound study to determine noise contours, and then inside those noise contours you're not supposed to build, or if you do build you're supposed to require certain things."

The estimated cost of $250,000 is eligible for Federal Aviation Administration funding, with the town only responsible for 2.5 percent.

Also on the council agenda Thursday evening:

  • A presentation by Carol McCauley, Main Street project manager, on the Green Valley Redevelopment Area Implementation Program adopted by the council in 1999.

"(The Green Valley Redevelopment Area Committee) prioritized certain things," McCauley said. "Some of the things have been done ... but we're still working on the sales tax increment and developing funding options."

  • A request for approval of an agreement for engineering services that will provide more accurate costs for getting water from Blue Ridge Reservoir to the town.

"Some years ago we had an estimate done and this will update it, so we'll get better numbers on what we have to shoot for to get this project done," Carpenter said. "It's a pretty important step on the road to Blue Ridge."

Roundabout update

Public Works Engineer LaRon Garrett said that paving is scheduled for Wednesday on the east side of the roundabout at Highway 87 and Tyler Parkway.

"That was last week's schedule before it rained," Garrett said Monday. "There was some water sitting out there and I don't know if that's going to hurt them or not."

A video and other information on how to use a roundabout is available on the town's website (www.ci.payson.az.us).

"Or I have a video I'll be glad to show to groups," he said. "And if people don't have a computer, I'll be glad to get them a copy of the video."

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