Payson Police Officers Struggle To Live In Town

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Editor:

I felt compelled to write you regarding the current cost of housing in Payson and the crisis that it will soon become. Some may be familiar with my situation.

I am a police officer with the Payson Police Department and I recently returned to work here after a two and a half year hiatus during which I worked for the Mesa Police Department.

I initially left Payson because of financial struggles due to what was a far below competitive salary being paid at that time.

However, market adjustments were made and I came back believing that the situation had improved. This would have been a more than accurate assumption had the housing costs not skyrocketed out of control.

What were $150,000 homes when we left are now $300,000 and above.

The bottom line is that we had to search for housing outside of Payson town limits and pay more than what we felt was comfortable.

And, this was done based on advice from local real estate agents to "buy more than you can afford now, because it will only get worse."

Lastly, I would not have been able to qualify for the house in which my family currently resides had it not been for my salary at Mesa PD.

Ultimately, I think the most frightening picture is not my situation, but that of some of the officers that have been here for more than ten years.

I know of several examples within our department of officers that purchased homes at a time when their families were younger and financial situations were very constraining. They settled for below middle class type homes with the hopes that an investment in a career as a police officer would eventually lead to an improved lifestyle.

After what are years of investment, their hopes of improved housing and lifestyle have not increased, but diminished. They are less likely now to be able to afford a better quality of life than they were when they were rookies. How many retired citizens in this community can say the same of their life's path in whatever community they lived after ten years of sweat in their chosen career.

I have heard many people in this community say, "You should have to sacrifice to live in Payson." That is an insulting and ignorant point of view. It is also extremely biased toward the "haves" versus the "have-nots."

Reed Watson, Payson

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