As a resident of Payson, I have watched with great interest the first months of the new town council. Decisions they make affect the future of our town and its residents. Many jobs can be lost if the direction taken ends up being a mistake. The financial well-being of many individuals and businesses will be directly impacted. With concern, I offer the following for consideration:
1. Affordable Housing: I have not heard the council define what would be "affordable housing." It is stated on the HUD Web site that for housing to be affordable it should not require more than 30 percent of gross income for the rent or payment. This links affordability with an individual's financial position. Since that varies widely between people and communities, some benchmark needs to be used by a specific town in order to determine whether or not a shortage exists in affordable housing.
An area with low wages and high housing costs can have different outcomes: Alternate housing will develop; workers will be forced to look for work in other areas, forcing employers to offer higher wages to attract employees; or a combination of the two. It appears that Payson has been experiencing the latter. Recently, more apartments have been constructed, new manufactured homes have been added to the area, and different employers are offering higher wages.
The new Payson Town Council made the decision to drop the program that required developers to bring to the town a supply of water. The reasoning, according to articles in the paper, was that they recognized that it is not the responsibility of developers to find water for the Town of Payson. That is a town responsibility. This move makes good sense. Now, the same reasoning needs to be applied to another decision they have made. The Council is moving to require all new developments to include an aspect of affordable housing in order to gain approval. First of all, this again, is not a developer responsibility. Second, affordable housing does not belong in all developments.
2. Restricted building permits: Payson has proposed a limit of 250 permits for residential units per year. Past water studies have all indicated that Payson should not damage "safe yield" to the recharge of groundwater until the population is over 18,000. We do not have that many people and I do not believe there are any studies indicating that the water supply is decreasing at the current population.
The limit on permits appears to be an overreaction to a problem that does not exist at this time. This artificial restriction will have a negative impact on supply and demand and also cause higher housing prices, counterproductive to the affordable housing concern.
In conclusion, a free market economy works well, given the time for the balance to take place. Overreacting, artificial restrictions, misplaced responsibilities can all interfere with the free market and result in negative side effects.
Mike Foil, Payson
Editor's note: This letter was shortened considerably to fit within the Roundup's 400-word limit for Letters to the Editor.