Town Departments Submit Wish Lists For Upcoming Budget Year

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It’s not Christmas time, but Town of Payson department heads have been making their capital spending lists — and checking them twice.

The fire department wants a new truck, the police need four patrol cars and the parks department wants grass to play on.

The town council will play Santa later this year when it reveals whose wishes make next year’s budget.

At a budget session last week, the town asked the department heads to draw up their wish lists and prioritize their top needs. Alas, even if a project does make the budget wish list, it may not get funded. The state requires the town to budget for everything it might possibly spend — even if the project depends on a grant the town may not get. So if the town does get gas tax money from the state to fix Bonita Street, it can’t spend the money unless it included the project in the budget.

Case in point, for the last seven years, the town has budgeted $50,000 for a recycling program — just in case it can find the money. The likelihood of which is akin to a bag of money falling from the sky, said Mayor Kenny Evans.

Still, the town has some money for critical projects.

This year, the cost of all the projects submitted by the departments totaled nearly $16 million.

“As you can see, there are a lot of requests and very little money,” said Hope Cribb, town finance director.

Evans asked the department heads to prioritize, since the town can’t afford more than about 20 percent of the requests.

Town hall staff wants new carpets and phones.

The police department said it would like a $32,000 security upgrade, including working cameras in the front and a functional security gate in back.

Police would also like four new patrol vehicles since eight patrol vehicles each have at least 100,000-plus miles on their odometers. Police Chief Don Engler also said he’d like new guns, but can probably raise that money by selling off impounded weapons.

Fire officials said their No. 1 priority is getting equipment for Electronic Patient Care Reporting (ePCR), which would let the department collect patient information and log calls electronically. The department hand writes all reports, inputting them later.

The second priority is a new type 1 fire engine and third, a new fire command vehicle.

Public works wants money to maintain the roads, including matching local funds for hoped-for state and federal grants.

Parks and recreation said its top priority is upgrading the playground equipment in Green Valley and Rumsey parks. Next is fixing the fencing at Rumsey’s baseball field, which is curling and poses a safety hazard.

Nelson Beck, parks operations supervisor, said many of the facilities have serious safety issues and repairs can’t be put off a whole lot longer.

For example, the roof at Taylor Pool badly needs repair. Not as pressing, but still needed, the artificial turf on the Rumsey soccer field is starting to wear out, some two years past its predicted lifespan.

“Everything is wearing out,” he said.

The water department had the most expensive list, needing millions to complete the C.C. Cragin pipeline. It would also like $60,000 for hydropneumatic surge tanks and $20,000 for pressure blow-off valves.

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