Keeping the "wow factor" in Payson was one of Mayor Bob Edwards' key topics when he addressed chamber members at their quarterly Eggs and Issues meeting Wednesday.
"When we were growing up as kids back in the East, we read about the cowboys and all the Western stuff. This is where it happened. Let's capitalize on it. Europeans, Germans in particular love the Western motif. Let's get them here," Edwards said.
He spoke of the town's recent past and future direction.
The rodeo, electric light parade, car show and bike race are just four of many festivals and activities that occur during the year.
The bike race had national champions, but few spectators. Festivals need to be coordinated so they complement each other, if they are on the same date.
The town is beginning to brand the image the council approved: A Mountain Town with a Western Heritage. The committee that came up with idea is headed by a former VP of marketing for the McDonald's corporation.
Council member Andy Romance headed the Trail committee and Parks and Recreation is focused on the master plan.
Safe hiking trails are a good thing for the tourists who come to Payson, but who are not capable of hiking the more strenuous wilderness trails, Edwards said.
One chamber member said that the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Payson Regional Economic Development Committee were instrumental in promoting the bed tax to fund the operations of those two groups. Will that continue?
Bed tax will be used to promote the town
Retail business owners pay the bed tax for more exposure to bring tourists to town. "We have to keep that bed tax pure," Edwards said.
Tourism, retirement and construction are the three drivers of Payson's economy.
"I think we need to add clean, green, specialty industries to that. We need to decide what kinds fit Payson and make it extremely inviting for them to come," Edwards said.
A chamber member brought up the problems that new and existing businesses have expanding. Why not take the salary scheduled for the economic vitality director and use it to solve those problems?
"That issue is not a lack of personnel, it is an issue of how the personnel react," Edwards said.
Early in his address, Edwards said, "We've changed the way we set policy. The public now suggests policy, the council now sets policy and the staff carries it out. The first two are in place, the third one isn't necessarily totally in place, but we are working on it."
A list of problems brought to the forefront at a recent "listening session" between contractors, business people, and the economic development task force, have been put on a list.
The next step is for town staff to respond with solutions.
Thanks to task force volunteers
Edwards gave kudos to the 120 volunteers on 19 task forces for saving the town "thousands of dollars."
The streets task force alone put in more than 100 hours inventorying every street in town. Their report allowed the town to put together a prioritized maintenance plan and begin work.
There was not total agreement on the smart growth to build-out plan.
"I think the beauty is that when we got all done there, nobody was totally happy with it, but it seems to be working. I think it tells us that we can bring wide differences together and work toward a future that I think will be better."
County v. city
Edwards fielded questions on the proposed county facility, calling the task force "a conclusion looking for a justification."
A better proposal, in the mayor's opinion, would be to combine the county facilities with the town facilities.
A courtroom in use during the day could serve as council chambers at night.
Parking and media rooms are other examples of facilities useful to both entities.
One alternative site for the county facility might be vacant land on Tyler Parkway.
Property on east Main Street could be used for increased office space, if the county chose to use satellite offices.
Satellite offices, would take the pressure Globe feels of Payson wanting to be the county seat, go away.
Edwards said members of the Globe Town Council told him they have problems with the county over the proposed jails.
"As soon as you build a jail in Payson, the overcrowding problem goes away in Globe," he said.
"Maybe none of these solutions would work, but they at least deserve a look," Edwards said.
He is also anti-tax.
"We already have a tremendous drain on retail businesses here in town. We can go to Scottsdale and buy products for two percent less," Edwards said.
"Star Valley has a lot of water and no money to develop it. We have money and no water. Somewhere in that pile, there must be a pony. We are working with them to see if we can find that pony."
In the mayor's opinion, the true combatants are Northern Gila County versus the Valley and Salt River Project.
The development of Blue Ridge water is only one component of the solution, he said.