With no one at town hall talking, it is unclear whether Payson’s tentative budget still includes cuts in the fire department’s operations.
The council has explored various options to close a potentially “catastrophic” budget deficit in recent weeks, including controversial proposals to eliminate the fire marshal and firefighter reserve program.
On Thursday, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans told the Roundup that town staff and the budget
committee had analyzed several of the proposed options and found some would not work because they would cost the town more money than it saved.
Evans would not detail the proposals because the council had not yet reviewed the staff’s recommendations.
“We will look at what options are available to us,” he said. “We are struggling mightily with how to close a catastrophic budget hole.”
He said each of the options has a price tag. While one measure might save $100,000, for example, it would cost the town $300,000.
Evans last month suggested the town eliminate Fire Marshal Bob Lockhart’s position to save $92,000 in salary and benefits to bolster the wafer-thin, $450,000 reserve fund. The suggestion caused an uproar. “What they are doing is shortsighted,” one resident said.
Some of Lockhart’s duties as fire marshal include code adoption, code interpretation, plan review, construction and special systems inspection, annual inspections, fire investigations, business license inspections and public education.
The council will discuss the budget at 4 p.m. Tuesday and adopt a final budget June 20.