Each candidate was asked to provide approximately 125 words on the issue of growth:
Jon Barber: Growth is tied to all four of the other issues addressed here. The main ingredients necessary to accommodate growth are water and streets. A viable water source is needed to supply new growth. Some streets that provide access to new developments have not been brought up to standards. In order to increase safety and relieve congestion it is vital that we address this before the developments are approved. We also have to make sure we have adequate police and fire protection to serve the new growth. Meeting these criteria will minimize the impact on the existing population. Most people moved here because of what Payson is, not for jobs. We can accommodate growth and keep our quality of life if we do it right.
Barbara Brewer: Growth is inevitable and we must have the plans in place to deal with it. When all of Arizona is going to double in population I believe that we'd be foolish to think that we are going to keep anyone from coming up here. We have a land use plan and zoning in place to regulate the proposed development in and around our town. People must realize that as land exchanges have happened, the R-175 zoning that is on these parcels is not our regular zoning and it will be governed by the general land use plan that the people voted on. This is their vision for how our town grows.
Bob Edwards: The current administration is pushing hard to increase zoning density and to accommodate Mr. Horton's efforts to build 1,000 homes in the next five years. Growth will happen and normal growth is healthy, but explosive; Prescott Valley-type growth is not. From 2000 to 2004 the average number of housing units built was a fairly level average of 223 per year. In 2005, there were 376 permits issued. Mr. Horton's additional 1000 units in the next five years could almost double the average rate. This administration is clearly in the explosive growth category. To be pushing for explosive growth while ignoring the current water problem is irresponsible. For additional information go to www.wethepeopleofpayson.com.
Ed Blair: Payson will grow. We have some 1,000 existing, buildable lots now. The questions revolve around density and resources to support the growth, not only water supply but also roads and other infrastructure. We ask, "How much can we afford to subsidize growth?" Growth costs money (doesn't add revenue) according to the Payson general plan: "In Payson, the net cost of residential development is subsidized by other revenue sources." I've heard a number of citizens say they don't want Payson to become another Prescott; they like to live here, or they moved here because this is Arizona's premier small town. We need a balanced approach to growth.
Su Connell: Payson is going to grow! I will help balance new growth and enhance current businesses in a way that allows Payson to maintain its small town atmosphere. Housing growth needs to be in the 2 to 4 percent range. Balanced growth equals a thriving local economy. Businesses that practice environmental conservation (i.e. limited water usage, minimal road abuse) are the types we need. New businesses should promote technology. Many Paysonites have had careers with major companies and institutes of higher learning. These valuable human resources need to be a part of our community development efforts and business expansion projects. These leaders, as mentors, the town staff and council, all of us working in tandem, will enable us to attract, maintain and balance business and housing growth.
Rick Croy: No growth will destroy the economy of Payson and cause major unemployment. The cost of housing will rise and make Payson even more unaffordable for many. Modest growth is the best choice, and should include growth in lower cost, work force housing, along with the higher end housing we have experienced in the past five years. Aggressive growth is not a good option, and many citizens of Payson have already stated so.
Robert Henley: Payson has grown less than 3 percent per year since 2000 in population and new, single family homes added to our existing home count. We are not experiencing "explosive growth" even though some want you to think it is so. The town should continue to ensure new construction fits the general plan's land use and is laid out to fit the terrain where it is being built. Subdivision plats should consider terrain and hillside issues as they are developed. The construction industry generates almost 20 percent of the town's sales taxes collected. Managed growth plays an important part in Payson's vitality and employment base.
Diane Sexton: Growth is inevitable and it will come whether we want it or not.
Therefore, we need to work toward a healthy and controlled growth according to the water supply of our community.
Charlie Smith: I separate growth into three areas: population growth, business growth, and industrial growth. Each have special considerations when they are discussed. In the area of population growth, we have to consider density, water usage, streets, city services, to name just a few. If for some reason any of these considerations cannot be met, then population growth has to be minimized until the town can assure that it can accommodate them. When you move into a community, you expect certain "life values". You expect to be protected from crime, you expect to be protected from fire, you expect to be able to know that your medical needs will be met locally. You expect to be able to have affordable housing and to be able to be employed in the community where you live and to be able to buy the everyday items you need to live comfortably. In Payson we have a wonderful public safety system that meets the needs of the community in our police, fire, EMS and hospital system. Business and industrial growth serve two areas in the "life values". One is employment in the community and the other is sales tax revenue to the town. Since the town does not directly collect property tax, the revenue from sales taxes is what provides for those services needed to protect and provide the life values to the residents.
Barbara Underwood: I believe that smart, responsible growth, with adequate infrastructure, including water, is good for the economic health of our town. Payson simply doesn't have an explosive growth rate, currently being less than 3 percent annually. Any new growth is directly tied to new unencumbered water. The town council should continue to use the general plan, as a guide for growth. This plan was created by hundreds of Payson citizens over several years; it then went before planning and zoning and the town council before the voters approved it in 2003. The general plan has kept our growth under control.
Mike Vogel: Growth is necessary to Payson. However, the growth we need has to be planned, controlled and limited to instances that meet our town's resources. Although water availability is the dominating growth factor, other elements also affect the way and extent we grow. Currently, the town reports a 2.6 percent annual growth rate. In our present economic environment, ever-rising land and materials prices, combined with higher mortgage interest rates should all work together to slow growth.