Payson Board Slots Go Begging

Town has trouble recruiting volunteers to serve on an array of advisory commissions

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Payson is scrounging for citizen volunteers to serve on an array of boards and commissions.

The Parks and Recreation Commission, Housing Advisory Commission and Historic Preservation, Board of Adjustments and Conservation Commission all have multiple vacancies.

The Transportation Advisory Board also has one slot open.

Only the Planning Commission, Design Review Board and Building Advisory Board have a full slate.

Vice Mayor Michael Hughes said the town has had trouble lining up volunteers as vacancies occur.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had very, very little response from citizens for new people to serve on the boards and commissions. Times are tough, everybody is trying to hold their own. It’s the same with the other volunteer organizations in the community. It’s tough to get people to respond.”

He urged residents willing to serve to contact him or town hall. Service on boards and commissions has traditionally been a training ground for town politics.

Some of the commissions with vacancies have in the past attracted so many applicants the council could pick and choose — and sometimes generate controversy.

That’s particularly true of the Transportation Advisory Board, where struggles over who to appoint have in the past had a pronounced impact on town politics.

The Parks and Recreation Commission has also generated much more interest in the past, although two years of budget cuts have shrunk the array of programs once offered by the department.

Other commissions with open slots have mostly labored behind the scenes, offering the town council guidance on building standards, reviving Main Street, preserving historic buildings and providing affordable housing for working class residents.

Hughes said the town may have to mothball some of its standing committees and commissions if it can’t get enough members to provide a quorum.

“So, please, if you have an interest, submit an application,” he said.

“I want everyone to think seriously about serving. When you give, you get back.”

The drought in applicants for boards and commissions reflects a sharp change in town politics in the past two years, as the building collapse has dried up new projects — which typically generate most of the controversy and interest in town politics.

Payson went from approving 200-300 new housing units per year and many commercial projects three years ago to processing more like 20 units annually in the past two years, mostly one house at a time. The town also all but canceled new construction projects, particularly streets.

The lack of new development has quieted town politics dramatically. In addition, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans’ emphasis on developing consensus and lining up support for initiatives behind the scenes with his 40- and 50-hour town-business work weeks have also taken much of the drama out of town politics. Some council meetings now last barely half an hour, with unanimous votes the norm.

The current council made the vice mayor, rather than the mayor, responsible for recruiting and recommending people to serve on boards and commissions.

Anyone interested in serving can pick up an application from town hall or download one from the town’s Web site. If the town gets multiple applicants for an open slot, Hughes will make a recommendation to the town council, which then makes the appointment.

Comments

Pat Randall 4 years ago

Who would want to volunteer, spend their time and have the mayor do what he wants behind closed doors without even the council knowing what is going on?

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