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The Payson Council continues to wrestle with who has the power to recruit and nominate members to town boards and commissions. 

The Payson council had the first of two public hearings to review updated language to the town code that removes the mayor’s sole ability to nominate members to boards, commissions and committees run by the town.

Since September, the council has wrestled with how citizens are appointed to boards and commissions run by the town after several high-profile discussions about conduct of members and absences.

Council members argued they need more input in the process that recruits, vets and nominates members of the community for critical advisory roles to the town.

The council asked staff to update the code. Contract attorney John Paladini presented extensive changes to the town code during the council’s Oct. 28 meeting.

The changes allow the entire council to review applications to town sponsored boards and commissions. The council may also ask for boards and commissions to make regular reports to the council and perform duties as requested.

If a member dies, resigns or is removed, the council appoints the new member to fill the vacancy. Prior to the proposed changes, the mayor had the sole responsibility to appoint members and fill vacancies.

Dave Golembewski wrote a letter in support of leaving the mayor’s responsibilities the same.

“Don’t change a tradition just because you don’t want to allow the mayor to make any decisions,” he wrote.

Resident Michael Heather also wrote in support of leaving the code the way it is, “The council is not supposed to attempt to make the office of the mayor empty of responsibility.”

The changes added the requirement that appointees need to come from a broad cross-section of the community and have some sort of relevant experience that adds to the mission of the board or commission.

Going forward, the town clerk will keep records of all applications received, for up to a year.

In essence, the town already keeps applications for more than a year.

“Each year we call all applicants and ask if they would like us to keep their application for another year,” said Tracie Baily, town clerk.

Generally, applicants must be a “qualified” voter within the town of Payson.

No one can serve on more than one board or commission at one time.

A board or commission member may serve on a committee at the same time, however.

A committee may only meet until it achieves its mission. It may only continue to meet if given more things to do.

The code changes clarify attendance expectations. If a member misses a cumulative total of five meetings in a calendar year, 50% of meetings in a six-month period or fails to attend mandated trainings — within 24 hours the town clerk “shall notify the member in writing that the office has been automatically vacated.”

The only way a member of a board or commission may abstain from voting is to state they have a conflict of interest before the group discusses the item. That member then may not talk about the item, either.

The code allows for the council to adopt a code of conduct and rules for each board and commission.

Each commission may appoint a council liaison. These liaisons serve at the pleasure of the mayor and may be removed by the mayor.

The code changes also tightened up the definition of who can serve on specialized commissions or boards, such as the Historic Preservation and Conservation Commission. Since it’s so important that an architect serve on the commission, the code allows for simply a resident of Gila County to serve on the preservation commission.

For Planning and Zoning, two members must have architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, fine arts, construction or another design related background. The members of the Planning and Zoning Commission must now be appointed by a majority of the council, rather than by the mayor with the council approving the mayor’s choice.

The council will vote on the changes during its Nov. 18 meeting.

Below is a list of the current Town of Payson Boards and Commissions:

• Airport Commission, 7 members, 3-year terms

• Board of Adjustment, 7 members, 3-year terms

• Building Advisory Board, 7 members, 3-year terms

• Historic Preservation an Conservation Commission, 7 members, 3-year terms

• Housing Advisory Commission, 7 members, 3-year terms

• Industrial Development Authority, not less than 3 or more than 9 members, 6-year terms

• Parks and Recreation Commission, 7 members, 3-year terms

• Payson Area Advisory Youth Council, 7 members, 3-year terms

• Planning and Zoning Commission, 7 members, 3-year terms (currently sits as Design Review Board)

• Transportation Advisory Board, 7 members, 3-year terms

Below is a list of the current Town of Payson Committees:

• Green Valley Parkway Extension Committee

• Committee for Review of Past Capital Improvement Projects

Contact the reporter at mnelson@payson.com

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(1) comment

Michael Heather

The actions of the town council remind one of a palace coup. It seems that 4 members are being directed by an outside interest and have not yet acted in the interest of the citizens and taxpayers of the town. What other conclusion could be drawn, given the total lack of concern with town facilities to the benefit of an outside development?

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