Layoffs Were Draconian

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Editor:

I wish to express my angst regarding the decision of the mayor and town manager to lay off a number of top employees after “many town employees had offered to work shorter hours or take a pay cut to save the jobs of coworkers.”

The mayor’s rationale, “I’m fearful if we use up all our ammunition here in this first round, we’ll have no other alternative that won’t be very Draconian.” The mayor apparently doesn’t think that it is Draconian to give several people layoff notices just before Thanksgiving and Christmas? It is certainly Draconian to the persons involved, especially in an economic climate in which it unlikely that they will be able to sell their homes and to find equivalent employment elsewhere.

It must be a particularly bitter pill for the new parks and recreation director and the finance manager, both of whom gave up good jobs in other communities to take their positions in Payson.

I think that Mayor Evans and his town manager selected the most brutal approach possible to take care of the budget shortfall, especially after a far less Draconian suggestion had been proposed. Reducing everyone’s salaries or time a little bit would have caused some belt tightening for everyone (including the mayor and manager), but it would not have put anyone out on the streets ... and possibly into the position of losing their newly purchased homes, health insurance and the like. If things get worse later, appropriate reductions could be taken at that time. It doesn’t make sense to take the most brutal approach until it is absolutely necessary.

This action shows callousness toward the lives of others that I find profoundly disturbing. The mayor then has the gall to take off on a three-week trip “to meet with European investors about a proposed resort development in Payson.”

I wonder who is paying for this junket? Sounds quite a bit like a certain insurance company being bailed out by the federal government. I know for certain that I will not be supporting this mayor in the next election.

Robert Hershberger

Editor’s Note: Mayor Kenny Evans is paying for the trip out of his own pocket. The layoffs were the decision of the town manager not the mayor. A mayor under the form of government that is in place in Payson has little power. Payson’s form of government is a strong council and strong town administrator following council policy with a weak mayor.

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