Vice Mayor Rotation Rejected By Council

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The Payson Town Council rejected a recommendation to rotate the position of vice mayor at its regular meeting Thursday evening.

Councilor Robert Henley's motion to implement such a policy was defeated 6-1, with most councilors arguing that a solid working relationship between the mayor and vice mayor takes time to achieve and needs to be maintained. Current Vice Mayor Judy Buettner led the opposition.

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Judy Buettner, Vice mayor, Town of Payson

"I feel it's good not to change too often just because of consistency," Buettner said.

Councilor Dick Reese agreed.

"I think commitment and continuity are real important," he said.

Councilor George Barriger also argued against rotating the position.

"I don't see a short rotation as being very functional, so why bother," he said.

Henley said he based his motion on a conversation he had with a councilor from Scottsdale, where the vice mayor position is rotated.

"I thought it was a way to kind of de-politicize the position and give everybody a chance for additional exposure," he said.

Henley's motion failed to garner a second.

Town Manager Fred Carpenter said several individuals approached him with the idea "so more people can be vice mayor." The decision will save the town about $100 each time the position rotated in business card and nameplate costs.

The vice mayor, who performs the duties of mayor in his or her absence, is selected by the council at the first meeting following its election and served for two years.

The council also voted Thursday to let voters decide whether the mayor's term of office should be increased from two to four years. In recommending the change, Carpenter said a two-year term hardly allows the mayor time off between campaigns.

Mayor Barbara Brewer said she initially raised the issue.

"You no sooner get elected than you have to run again," she said.

Barriger agreed.

"With all the stuff happening around here, two years isn't long enough," he said.

Town council members are already elected for four-year terms.

The council also opted to take over operation of government access Channel 4 to improve both the quantity and quality of programming.

According to Buettner, who voted in favor of the takeover, the station's full potential has never been reached.

"From what I've heard it seems like it's a good idea," the vice mayor said. "I think it would improve things. We've had so many complaints."

Another issue raised by Town Attorney Sam Streichman was the legality of accepting paid advertising on a government access station.

Blaine Kimball, one of the owners of the company currently operating Channel 4, challenged the town's cost estimates. Steve Bingham, another owner, added a postscript.

"Basically we're going to go away, but I think the town will be a little sadder for it," he said.

At an executive session preceding the regular meeting, the council sought legal advice regarding the transfer of operational control of Gila Community College to Eastern Arizona College.

According to Carpenter, the meeting was called to explore options in light of a decision that Carpenter said could be considered not in the best interests of education in northern Gila County.

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