Recently there has been much said about the town’s current financial problems.
After researching the facts, I found that Payson’s previous mayor, Bob Edwards, spoke strongly about setting up a Rainy Day Fund that would be used in emergency situations only, or saved for use when we might see an economic downturn.
Subsequently the budget approved in the summer of 2007 had a $611,000 Rainy Day Fund. Unfortunately, the council repeatedly approved what appeared to be non-critical expenses to be paid from this fund. Specifically:
Holiday lights: $15,000
Frontier Road improvements: $110,000
Hashknife Pony Express contribution: $2,800
School recycling bins: $5,320
Master plan for event center: $39,235
Computer Internet firewall: $7,864
Insurance claim: $7,000
Senior Center contribution: $48,800
Advertising expense: $3,900
Justice Court invoice correction: $107,853
Library heat pumps: $13,137
These expenses totaled $360,909. Were all of these unexpected emergencies or should the expense have been part of the budget, or if not, the expense postponed? The balance of $250,735 in the Rainy Day Fund was transferred to the General Fund for this budget year.
According to council agendas and meeting minutes, status of the fund balance and expenses paid from it was provided to council members at least three times during the accounting year, so, claimed ignorance by the council members of what was going on is not an explanation.
The crucial question is whether Payson councilors can change their practice in the future, set up a real Rainy Day Fund and save it for true emergencies or unexpected financial downturns? Maybe some council policies need to be changed.