Payson Leaders Meet To Review Town Goals

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As the town heads into the second-quarter of this fiscal year, town staff and representatives from several of the Mayor's citizens task forces met Wednesday, Oct. 11, to share the first-quarter progress of the 2006-2007 Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP).

State statute requires municipalities to issue a CSP annually. The document sets town priorities for the upcoming year and assesses its progress from the previous year.

Next year, town staff is working in conjunction with the task forces to attain these objectives.

The decisions made during the 2007-2008 fiscal year, coming up for discussion in early November, will refine the town's future in the upcoming years.

Water

The Payson Town Council in 2005 charged the Payson Water Department with one priority goal -- to secure new water sources. Public Works Director Buzz Walker said his staff accomplished this goal through the purchase of a well located in Star Valley.

Water conservation also ranked high on the council's priorities. Walker said the town has offered water conservation programs for the past several years, including hot water recycling, incentives for replacing fixtures with low-water equipment, free waterless urinals and rainwater harvesting.

This year, the water department started a program, which was well received by local restaurants, to switch out dishwashing nozzles. Meanwhile, Payson's per capita water use has dropped to 87 gallons a day, compared to more than 100 in other parts of Arizona.

For the upcoming year, the council has asked the water department to continue seeking new sources of water. But, Walker said, the opportunities to find water within town limits are limited.

"All other private lands are exhausted," he said.

Although local alternatives have dwindled, Walker can still attain his goals. The Water Department is in the process of applying for permission to drill in the forest while pursuing the Blue Ridge project.

Mayor Bob Edwards has established a water task force to work with the Payson Water Department. Chairman Lynn Godfrey will determine, among other issues, how much water Payson has available and how much the community needs.

Community Development Department

Newly hired Jerry Owen spent last year acquainting himself with Payson, and during his first few months in 2005 as community development director, he worked to create cohesion among the town's various departments.

Last year's goals included the enhancement of the overall economic performance of the town and the Green Valley Redevelopment Area, and the reduction of unsightly properties.

Because of the town's inability to adhere to the town's business plan called Future Focus II, a cut in town funding for economic development programs and the limitation of state statutes, cleaning up the town has been a challenge.

And before Owen undertakes new programs, he said he'll strive to improve existing plans such as Focus Future II. Owen said he'll spend the upcoming year working with the task forces to find solutions to affordable housing and improve the town's image.

"If we take care of the infrastructure, economics will take care of the rest," he said.

Public Works

Curtis Ward said during the past year, the streets department has invested its time and effort addressing street and drainage problems around town. The streets department also met its re-slurry goal of 5 miles of road this year. Ward said drainage issues account for $15,000 to $20,000 worth of property loss a year and, currently, the town is in need of $6 million in drainage improvements.

Ward said the streets department needs more funding support from the council. Some community members involved in the task forces have expressed a need for the public transportation, but Town Manager Fred Carpenter said that plan died a couple of years ago.

"There was very little public support," he said.

To resurrect the plan, Payson residents would have to show an interest in a project that could cost up to $100,000 to $200,000 a year.

Town services

Over the past few years, town administration has improved the town Web site. Council meetings, agendas, forms and other services are available online. Carpenter said his staff and the town clerk's office is working create even more integration among departments.

Public safety

Police Chief Gordon Gartner said his department has met its goals with the completion of its new communication system and the addition of a full-time dispatcher.

The department will continue improving its communication capabilities and enhance officer training.

Airport

The airport task force would like to see the facility become more user friendly, including the promotion of the nearby campground.

Airport Manager Ted Anderson said he'll continue working on the master plan to improve services and growth.

Library

Terry Morris, library director, said a planned 5,000 square foot expansion project will cost $1.2 million. She's working with the Library Friends of Payson on the fund-raising efforts. The library space will include more table area and a wireless network.

The Payson Town Council, town staff and the mayor's task forces will meet again at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Best Western Inn to discuss the 2007-2008 CSP. The meeting is open to the public.

To view the current complete Corporate Strategic Plan, visit ww.ci.payson.az.us.

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