Public Services

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Each candidate was asked to provide approximately 125 words on the issue of public services:

Jon Barber: We cannot compromise public safety. The Town has done quite a lot in recent years to improve this through more and better equipment, training and facilities for the fire and police departments. We need to monitor them to ensure we always have adequate forces to keep up with the needs of our community. The parks department has also enjoyed an increase in facilities, thanks in large part to growth. The impact fees charged to new construction have paid for many of the improvements and additions to our park system. With the FAA and ADOT aviation fund paying for most of Airport Road, the town is getting a new street for literally pennies on the dollar. This will be the cheapest street the town ever buys.

Barbara Brewer: We have some of the finest police and firefighters in the state. We will have to be competitive when recruiting for Payson. There will be about seven police officers retiring within the next few years and about four from the fire department. I believe that (Police) Chief (Gordy) Gartner has a good idea in putting in an academy here.

Bob Edwards: As I talk to citizens, I hear complaints regarding the lack of customer service from our town government. My experience has shown that employees perceived as not caring are frequently trapped in a bad system. Most people want to feel good about what they do -- they want to go home at night proud of what they have accomplished. As mayor, I will encourage the departments to listen to the citizens, be honest with them, treat them with respect and to let employees grow to their full potential. I am confident our employees will rise to this expectation and, in fact, I believe they will soar.

Ed Blair: I've heard many good compliments about our fire and police departments. Citizens are happy with our parks and I personally enjoy walking in Green Valley Park, and the summer concerts. Because of the possibility of forest fires in and around Payson, we also need the fire department's help in prevention during this difficult time of low precipitation.

Su Connell: As vice president of Friends of Parks and Recreation, and having been on the board of Parks and Recreation, I am a strong proponent of activities for all ages. Proposed amenities to be offered by the YMCA will address family needs, the wants of all ages, in addition to ways for citizens to improve their health. I am aware of the concerns of our local fitness clubs and will work with them to find a mutually acceptable solution. We all enjoy the beauty of our area and the pleasant four seasons. We need to preserve and provide trails and pathways for generations to come. These and the enhancements to current parks and facilities will be a special interest to me while working on Payson's town council.

Rick Croy: I would like to see some smaller neighborhood versions of Green Valley Lakes. This would help store water and improve neighborhoods. Drainage control may also be improved. The tough part would be where and how. With the price of land getting higher every day, however, the longer we wait the more expensive it will be.

Robert Henley: I have worked closely with the police and fire departments during the evaluation and vendor selection phases of the upgraded communications system that is being funded by the bond issue passed in 2003. Complete implementation is targeted for early 2007. I support parks programs that complement our sports focus. I would like to see youth programs that provide opportunities to explore the arts such as dance, graphic arts and creative writing. However, right now, we do not have the facilities to hold these programs. I also would like to find enough money in our budget to reconstruct at least two of our four tennis courts. We have done a good job in enhancing and augmenting our soccer and baseball fields and need to do the same for the tennis courts.

Diane Sexton: I am very thankful for our police and fire departments, but it is my opinion that the police department could tighten up their budget without cutting wages. Our parks are very important to the life of our community and are a great source of pride. However, we do not need more parks or more artificial turf when we are so short of street funding. Without raising taxes, the town council and the town departments need to "bite the bullet" and work together closely to place our money where there is the greatest need.

Charlie Smith: The infrastructure of the public services being provided by the town is above par with other like communities. We need to focus on the resources utilized by the individual departments. For example, some of the patrol cars currently used by the police department are 1995 models with high mileage. These vehicles are worn and pose a safety hazard, not only for the officers driving them but also for the public. We need to look at the utilization of all vehicles owned by the town and evaluate where the higher need is. The use of take-home cars needs to be more stringent than what the current policy allows. There are many community-based programs in town such as the boys and girls club, the senior center, and others that need the support of the town. We need to make sure that these programs continue and that they receive the support that they need.

Barbara Underwood: Over the past 28 years, I have seen Payson's fire department grow from a volunteer, on-call staff, to two fully staffed stations with firefighters 24/7. The police force has grown from four officers, including one who worked part time for the morgue, to the 28 officers currently on staff. Back then if you needed emergency care, you rang a bell in the building and waited for a doctor to be called in to treat the patient. We now have PRMC, a modern, 24-hour facility. Even as recently as a decade ago, party lines still existed in Payson, where we now have access to satellite Internet and television access not to mention cellular phone service. Without growth we would not have the peace of mind these agencies provide us, including our state-of-the-art 911 services.

Mike Vogel: Payson has some of the best parks for towns our size. We must continue to maintain them at this level. Police, in my opinion, must start toward accreditation. This is a national standard for police professionalism. When it is completed, and it will take time, we will have a department that is one of the best. Fire Department: I would like to have the town look into the possibility of doing its own emergency transporting. If we can do this, it could bring in money for the department.

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