Town councils often make decisions that affect residents for generations.
So why not get some advice from the next generation?
Good idea, decided the Payson Town Council.
Last week after more than a year of working on it, the town council established the Payson Area Youth Council — and appointed the first set of volunteers.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for 16 months and they’re already exceptional leaders,” said Tourism, Parks and Recreation Director Cameron Davis in introducing the new, youth board. “These are dedicated, active teenagers whose goal is to make Payson a better place.”
The youngsters appointed all shuffled up to the front of the council chambers and smiled sheepishly as their elders extolled their virtues. Appointees included Alicia Bayless, Lauren Best, Daniel Conley, Sam Grassel, Payton Pettet, Austin Shannon and Anthony Smith, plus alternate members Tyler Aguirre and Dillon Walker.
The students will form a youth council, which will meet regularly to study assorted problems facing the town.
The group will hold meetings, get other young people involved in town affairs, recommend projects or policies to help the younger set, recommend a yearly major project to improve conditions for young people and take on any other tasks assigned by the council.
Already, the group is working on staging a battle of the bands, fund-raising dances, toga parties and drug and domestic violence awareness programs.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans welcomed the members of the town’s latest advisory board to the struggle.
“You’re the first ones out of the gate, so you’re setting the bar. One of the challenges we have is to provide some leadership, but letting you also step out and lead.”
Councilor Su Connell said “I’m very excited about the quality and attitude of these young people. Bless your hearts and let’s go for it.”
Unfortunately, after the charged up volunteers filed out of the council chambers, the council took up the latest grim budget news. First they furloughed all the town employees two days a month and at a later meeting this past Wednesday found ways to cut the town’s budget even further, which may eliminate many town recreation programs.
The potential cuts could increase the poignancy of the main complaint most kids have about Payson: There’s nothing to do.
So the youth board’s first challenge will likely be finding a way to protect the handful of programs that exist in the face of the renewed budget crisis.