Sometimes there is no easy way to present bad news. Being direct, honest and open is the only way.
No city or town is immune from the crashing U.S. economy. There will be less state and federal funds available. All of this translates to the Town of Payson having to do what each and every one of its citizens has to do — rework their budget and reduce expenditures in as many places as feasibly possible in order to be fiscally responsible. We must continue to serve the public in several critical areas. We, as town councilors, elected by you, the people, need to be held accountable for our fiscal actions.
There is already a reduced revenue stream coming in from our state funding sources. Highway User Funds are way below projections, and the state is trying to balance its budget by passing on additional costs to our town. There could possibly be less travel to our city, less tourism dollars to feed the businesses, which translates to less bed tax/income for the town and a loss to local businesses.
We have seen less investment and development over the last months. Those that normally would build, develop and invest in our community are holding off waiting for signs of economic recovery and waiting on the Obama administration and Democratic Party-controlled Senate and House to let us know what they are going to do with capital gains tax and income tax.
Some of the town’s population will do what some other residents have already done — sell their homes and property here, and relocate back with their families in another area. Their taxes are and will be missing from the town’s income.
Some of the suggestions already received to help this budget shortfall and keep the town from going bankrupt are:
l. Layoffs of town employees — never an easy decision, but one that is necessary at this stage to protect the town itself and the general population of the town.
2. Eliminate the use of paid, temporary help. Maybe we can solicit experienced, voluntary, unpaid assistance if available, if not, cope as best we can with the skilled people we have.
3. Curtail or eliminate training and travel. We can certainly try to make the information of training available through Internet and conference networking. Some town employees may wish to have a choice to pay for at their own expense.
4. Pare down the office supplies, maintenance and repair costs and contractual services. Use our own staff or maybe voluntary labor for the other items to cut the overall costs.
Encourage employees to look for ways to cut costs — don’t just toss paper away if it can be used for scratch paper. Re-use file folders instead of throwing them away. Store information in the computers or on disks without printing multiple copies, wherever possible.
Look for discount buying capabilities, or acquisitions through businesses that close that have supplies they no longer need. Leverage our town’s buying needs with those of other towns, with the county and within the county.
Possibly search for ways to leverage expenses with the Payson Unified School District and volunteer or nonprofit organizations.
5. Look at our inventory of equipment to see if there is anything that could be eliminated due to pared back personnel and services and auction or sell what can be sold.
These are trying times for our country and for Payson. We can take heart in knowing that the most valuable asset we have is the American citizen. We must open our hearts and minds to resolving the financial crises that are upon us locally and also within the state and federal governments. All these agencies directly affect you and me.
While it is the town’s and council’s responsibility to come up with the budget and solutions to the economic problems the town faces, I would like us to think about holding an open town meeting to gain input and suggestions for cost savings or increasing income for the city. We might consider a town Web site for Payson cost savings ideas. Everywhere we go, we should encourage and solicit “out of the box” ideas from all employees, businesses and residents of the town of Payson.
I believe if we give the open and honest information to our citizens, and include the general populace in the resolution process, the solutions chosen will have more popular support and potentially be even more creative and financially beneficial to the town of Payson.