Payson may be desperate for tourist dollars.
But that does not mean the council will give event planners a break. Unless you count the mayor’s billfold.
The town has high hopes for the money that fun-loving owners of 100 luxury cars will spend in local businesses as a result of this weekend’s second annual “Cannonball Spree.”
The event includes a scavenger hunt that requires the owners of the often elaborately restored classic cars to stop at a host of local businesses, as they gleam and purr through town. Moreover, the organizers agreed to donate a chunk of the money generated to local charities.
One little problem.
Many of the cars are slung so low to the ground that they can’t easily bump over driveway curbs that in Payson seem designed mostly for pickup trucks.
“I was down at the museum last year,” said Lita Nicholson, who is helping to set up the event on behalf of the local charities that will benefit. “They only had three drivers that could make it all the way down to the end of Main Street. They can’t go up the curb into the parking lot. So it would really help if the town could help set that up.”
So the organizers asked the town to put up a couple of barricades on Main Street to let the drivers park on the street instead of risking all those high-rise curbs, since the Historical Society Museum had paid up to become a mandatory stop at the end of Main Street.
Payson Public Works Director LaRon Garrett somehow calculated that it would cost the town $300 to put up a couple of road barriers, leave them stand for two hours, then pick them up again.
The organizers squinted at the bill and last week asked the council to waive the charge.
But that got them into the deeply rutted backroad track to the town council’s cheap side, after two years of shrunken revenue and budget cuts.
The town council has become hard nosed about providing town services in the past two years. Not only did the council cut off a whole list of local charities it used to subsidize, but it has largely refused to waive often substantial town fees for groups like Payson Community Kids, Habitat for Humanity and the Beeline Cruise-In Car Show.
Ed Blair, normally a council soft touch, said, “You guys are doing a great job, but I move to deny the request.”
The whole council looked kind of abashed — but also uncompromising.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans then pulled out his wallet, extracted some bills and laid them on the table in front of his raised seat. “I’ll put in $100,” he said. “I think you can go to Friends of Payson Parks and Recreation and see if they can help you come up with the other $200.”
With that, the council voted 6 to 0 to deny the request for a fee waiver. Evans abstained.