$3.8 Million Dedicated To Streets In Payson's Budget

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The Payson Town Council will discuss and hold a public hearing about the town's tentative budget for the new fiscal year at Thursday night's meeting.

Based on tentative figures, the budget is $39,219,191 -- down a bit from the budget for the 2006-2007 fiscal year of $39,395,309.

Chief fiscal officer Debi Galbraith said the biggest change in this year's budget from the last is the dedication of $3.8 million for streets and roads improvements, which comprises more than 50 percent of the town's $6.2 million capital outlay.

In addition to the streets improvements, other new programs include $200,000 for the installation of laptop computer systems inside police vehicles, the allotment of $124,000 for an urban trails network and $300,000 to go toward an affordable housing program, Galbraith said.

The police department will be able to add two new positions -- a detective to spearhead a new drug program and an additional dispatch position -- to go along with the two new officers and police vehicles allotted to allow coverage of Star Valley.

Mayor Bob Edwards said his primary emphasis with this budget is to curtail spending.

"We want to get the whole picture first," he said.

Edwards said a large portion of the budget is allotted for the improvement of streets and drains in town.

"We've shifted a lot of dollars to streets and drains," he said.

Edwards said that budgets in the past were cluttered and hard for councilors to follow. He is determined to improve the council's understanding of the budget.

"I want it to be extremely readable," he said. "Now, it's nearly impossible to read."

Galbraith, who began as Payson's chief fiscal officer in June, said she is in the process of reworking the budget books to make them easier to read. She expects, by the next fiscal year, the budget should be a more comprehensible form.

Another change from past budgets is the limit on raises for town employees, Edwards said, in an effort to cut costs.

"We've limited some raises," he said. "This bulk approach to salary increases is not the way to do it. Individual pay increases should be based on merit.

"They all will get cost of living adjustments."

Galbraith said, cost of living increases are 2.1 percent.

The recent hire of two new positions on the town staff also attribute to the need to limit spending, Edwards said.

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