Economic Indicators For The Town Of Payson

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Editor:

Current economic indicators for the Town of Payson can be reviewed as follows:

• The Town has a declining population that is down nearly 17 percent from prior years.

• Real estate primary assessed valuation is down 7.1 percent from the previous year. Resale homes for sale number in the 250-300 range, with most homes selling for less than $200K. The market for homes over $200K is stagnant. New home construction is almost non-existent.

• 75 percent of students in the Payson Unified School District are under the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Programs, which means their family’s annual income must be less than $30,000 to qualify.

• Although the town’s water supply is adequate for the current population, the Town is engaged in a $32 million-plus dollar construction project (Blue Ridge Reservoir) to support a future population of 40,000. The Town hopes to pay for perhaps 20 percent of this project with water impact fees generated through the construction of an ASU facility. By now, what are the odds of this happening? And when? Meanwhile, the remaining cost of this project with or without ASU will be borne by the current 15,000 residents through higher water rates.

• Recent attendance numbers for Gila Community College reflect a significant decline compared to a year ago. Will this mean higher tuition and property tax rates to pay for remaining overhead?

• The Northern Gila County Sanitary District is proposing to increase property tax and their monthly rates to pay for expanding their facility to also support a population of 40,000. Is this really needed at this time?

• The PUSD has already spent $35 million for new school facilities for which the Secondary Property Tax Rate will increase 22 percent over the next five years as the current rate is for interest only and does not include principal repayment.

• The main shopping areas are on the Beeline and 260 highways. Meanwhile, the west end of Main Street has mostly empty retail storefronts with buildings for rent or sale. What are the odds for this area to ever evolve into a successful tourist attraction and historic district as thought by the town council? And at what cost?

• Per recent reports, the Town’s revenue, general fund and grants, is just covering expenses even after significant reductions in spending levels. Regardless, the town council wants to spend $200, 000 for more land use planning. If this money is available, how about spending it on seal coating on some of our deteriorating streets?

None of these economic indicators bode well for the future of current Payson residents. Decisions that have been or are in the process of being made by the mayor and town council, the Payson Unified School District, and the Northern Gila County Sanitary District are going to increase significantly the cost of living to Payson residents, now and well into the future with little assurance of any near term benefit.

Lower income families and retirees on fixed incomes will experience these increases through increased property taxes, water, sewer and rental rates and probable assessments for services. Perhaps to the extent of them not being able to afford to live here?

The desire to improve the economy of Payson is commendable. In the past, the influx of retirees and resultant new home construction was the driver of the economy. If the ASU project is ever attained, will it fully replace, as thought, the portion of the economy lost by the demise of home construction? Will the future population growth be enough on a timely basis to pay for all of the project expansion? Will there even be future population growth versus the current population decline?

What are the answers to these questions? What is the opinion of Payson residents?

Jim Hippel, M.B.A./C.P.A. (retired)

Comments

Dan Haapala 1 year ago

Sometimes we just over analyze too much. Reminds me of story I heard years ago at Turf Paradise. Two young math majors from A.S.U. had spent weeks analyzing the track the horses the wagers and believed they had figured out a system for betting that would make them rich. One Wednesday they decided to take $5000 and test their system at the track. After 5 races they were bust, but they had noticed that an old man in the next section seemed to be winning every race. The watched the sixth race and the old man carefully. Saw him make notes and watched as he won again. Having lost $5000 and unable to contain themselves, they approached the Old man and said, " Sir, we are math majors at ASU and came to test our system on betting on the Horses but we lost all our money. We have been watching you and noticed you have won every race. How did you do that? The Old man looked at the young men and said, 'boys first you have to understand that horse racing and numbers don't work.' To which the students responded, ' what do you mean, we watched you making notes and calculations and you won, What is it you do? ' The Old man felt for the young students and decided to tell them his system. 'Boys', he said, ' what I do is watch when the horses and jockeys come out on parade and in particular I watch the horses. If when the number 2 horse passes me he shakes his head I write that down. Then if the number 4 horse shakes his head when he goes by me I write that down and at the end I add the number 2 and the number 4 and I go bet on the number 7 horse to win.' The students were beside themselves unable to control their emotions and finally said to the Old Man, ' you crazy fool, when you add 2 and 4 then the sum is six......not seven..... To which the Old man replied....see...there you go with them numbers again.

We don't have to find all the reasons that don't work but we do have to expect that something will work and keep working to that end.

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Ted Paulk 1 year ago

Well said Mr. Hippel. Would sure love to see your name appear on the next ballot for Mayor.

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Joel Goode 1 year ago

I'm uncertain as to where Mr. Hippel got his information. His comments concerning plans of the Northern Gila County Sanitary District are simply without fact. Yes, the District does plan to expand, improve, and update its water reclamation facility. Yes, it is necessary now. The current facility is nearing 30 years of age and has exceeded 80% of its permitted capacity some time ago. Regulatory agencies mandate this action. However, the District is not planning a rate increase in either the property tax levy or the user fees as suggested. Because of vision, planning, and fiscal responsibility, the District is able to use cash reserve funds to support these improvements, without placing the burden upon the existing ratepayers. The facts are, that in light of the national and local economics, 3 years ago the District lowered the tax levy to its lowest level in 39 years. Prior to this decrease, it had remained the same for 22 years. The District has not increased the quarterly/monthly user rate for 6 years and has no expectation to do so anytime soon. The District is committed to managing our vital natural resources while protecting the environment for the benefit of our current and future community. Joel S. Goode, General Manager, Northern Gila County Sanitary District

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