In a marathon special meeting on Wednesday night, the Payson Town Council finally reached a decision on the fate of the Main Street/Redevelopment Area Manager position left vacant by Carol McCauley's departure in May.
The council voted 6-0, after hours of debate, discussion and obvious frustration, to retain and expand the position, ultimately establishing a new town department.
Vice Mayor Tim Fruth was not present at the meeting.
The council approved the expansion of McCauley's old position to a department-head level position with a focus on tourism and economic vitality for the town.
Cathy Boone, who was formerly McCauley's secretary, has acted as interim Main Street/Redevelopment Area manager for the past two months. She will now act as interim department head until that position is filled permanently.
The council will begin searching for applicants for the department head position, with the hopes that it will be filled by Sept. 1.
Mayor Bob Edwards, who was the most outspoken supporter for the expansion of the position, said he wants to give the new department head six months to evaluate what the town needs. The council will then likely decide if new positions are needed within the economic vitality/tourism department, as assessed by the new department head.
"I think Main Street can be a gem," Edwards said. "But we need to expand our thinking a bit."
Councilor Mike Vogel said he wanted to emphasize the importance of the Green Valley Redevelopment Area and Main Street projects to whomever takes over the new position.
McCauley addressed the council in the midst of the debate and urged them to make the new position as simple as possible.
"The position you're talking about is critical ... to move the economic development and success of the town forward," she said of her old post. "I'm pleading with you. This position is important."
Ken Volz, member of the GVRA, said the town has a lot of work to do to increase tourism.
"The Town of Payson has a great deal of potential," he said. "But this town, right now, is a long way from where it needs to be (with tourism)."
Volz suggested the McCauley's former position be shifted to a project management position, in order to focus on development first, before attempting to broadly increase tourism.
Once the new position is filled, Boone will likely be a candidate to permanently fill the Main Street/Redevelopment Area manager position.
The new department head position will answer to Town Manager Fred Carpenter.