Mayor Gives State Of The Town Address

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Where Payson was, where Payson is and where the town is going to be in the future was the focus of Mayor Bob Edwards' first State of the Town address, delivered in Payson Town Hall Tuesday night.

Edwards spoke about the numerous task forces he has formed since being elected mayor in May, and added that citizen input is guiding the town's goal and plan for the future.

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Mayor Bob Edwards gives his State of the Town address to an audience of local media, town staff and council Tuesday.

He also touched on other topics, including finances, streets, water, ethics, town policies and procedures, the alternate route and affordable housing.

"We have come a long way in a few months, but we still have a long way to go," he said, before listing 17 goals for the town in the coming year.

"Payson is already a dream location to live, but with your help we can make it even better," he said. "With your help we can manage our growth to build out in a smart manner and within our water availability. With your help, we will once again make Payson the festival capital and the Fun Center of Arizona.

"I look forward to our continued joint walk on a defined path to our future."

Following Edwards' speech, he took questions from members of the local media.

The first question dealt with illegal immigration and the council's plan to put something in place to stop businesses from hiring or landlords renting to them.

Edwards said the issue and topic came up from almost everywhere, which he added, is the main reason why the council started looking at it.

He said the town is trying to give contractors and businesses in town a fair shake.

"You have to have the rules that apply (to all)," Edwards said, and added it is a priority that the town is pushing.

He said his biggest positive since he has been in office is the number of people who came forward to work on task forces.

Edwards, in answering a question on how the town could fight meth, said the town needs to work with law enforcement.

He added that living in a small community helps, because everyone knows what is going on around them.

"Get citizens involved in reporting it," he said. "The citizens can be our eyes and ears. It is a cancer that has made some towns die."

Edwards also answered a question about the absence of executive sessions since he has been in office.

"People should know why we are making decisions," he said, adding those should never be made behind closed doors.

Edwards was asked how members and chairs of task forces were chosen and how could the public be updated on their progress.

The mayor said when he ran for office, he met a lot of people who had questions and he asked what roles they could play in the Town.

Once elected, he looked at the list of people he had compiled to see who fit best for each task force.

He said there are now 18 task forces and added that attending the meetings would be hard because they are not really organized. To be updated on a particular task force, Edwards said the chairperson or himself could be contacted.

In a question about county resources, Edwards said Northern Gila County has three-fifths of the residents, but is not getting its share of the funds.

"There are a lot of other options before going to the voters," he said. "I will not support a tax increase."

On the beautification and cityscape issue for Payson, he said the town itself needs a face-lift.

"If we are going to move forward, we need a plan. We need to (improve) our image. Let's make it happen."

When asked what he meant by using the term "fun center" for Payson, the mayor said people should want to come to Payson because it is a fun place.

"Let's become Westworld North (during the summer). We have to start thinking big."

On big-box stores, Edwards said, the town needs to make sure it knows what stores are coming in.

On recycling, Edwards said it is costing the town about $27,000 a year to recycle paper products and cardboard and is challenging his task force to come up with a solution so the town could do this for free or for much less than what it is paying now.

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