A snapshot of the 2022-23 Payson budget

A snapshot of the rough draft of the 2022-23 Payson budget. Last year's infusion of federal money has expanded staffing and capital improvements. 

The Payson Town Council got a look at a booming, $58 million budget — an $8.2 million increase that will swell total possible town spending by 15% in fiscal year 2022-23.

The budget includes a huge increase in capital spending, six new positions, raises for most workers and an ambitious list of council priorities.

The budget calls for the town to collect $46.7 million in revenue but spend $57.8 million. The difference comes from the money accumulated last year in the unassigned fund balance.

This includes the general fund, which covers the operating costs of most town departments. The general fund will collect $25.9 million in taxes and other revenue — but spend $28 million.

It does not include the water department in the general fund — but it will also spend more than it takes in. The Water Enterprise fund will bring in $9 million in water charges and grants but spend $12.3 million. This will reduce the unassigned fund balance to $14.5 million.

All this new spending won’t require an increase in the town’s property tax. However, the town still has no plans to repeal its sometimes controversial $2 million grocery store sales tax.

The budget includes a $6.3 million increase for capital improvements such as roads, parks, and council priorities that include expanding the event center, building the splash pad, and designing the American Gulch drainage and park project along Main Street. The town’s capital spending has tripled in the past three years — rising from about $5 million in 2019-20 to nearly $15 million.

A flood of federal grants and a stronger than expected economy largely account for the budget increases.

Despite the surge in new spending, the town’s budget reserves cover three months of operating costs, years of capital improvement needs and even a savings account just for streets. The 2008 recession spurred the council to pass a requirement the town develop reserves.

The town also proposes adding six new positions, while increasing salaries to fill vacancies and hang onto existing staff. That included handing out bonuses financed by federal pandemic relief money. Most employees received between a $1,000 and $1,500 pandemic bonus and are in line for a raise.

“I think the bonuses came to about $100,000 in totality, with ARPA funding the current year,” said Kevin Artz, deputy town manager and finance director.

The budget includes $2.2 million approved by the town manager to fund the six new full-time positions, four of them in the police and fire departments. Without these better salaries, the town will continue to struggle to fill its available 177 positions.

“The total amount is $830,000 for the general fund and $892,000 for all funds,” wrote Artz in an email. “$2.2M was the amount for all positions requested.”

The town wants to spend another $54,862 on part-timers and promotions — mostly in the water department.

Filling public safety positions has proved the most difficult after the pandemic. Applicants seek remote work and higher salaries.

“We can’t offer those opportunities to work remotely. The private sector has more flexibility,” said Artz “The cost of living ... the cost of everything is more and so we have to offer a competitive salary.”

So the town spent more to attract candidates. Adding a police commander will cost $200,000 a year, a police officer $123,000 and a firefighter $103,000 — which includes the cost of benefits.

“We got all of the market data ... we wanted to stay really competitive, so our public safety personnel we targeted above rates,” said Artz.

He explained later these changes will affect current and future employees.

The town kept their current set of public safety employees happy as well.

“We also met with both public safety groups ... there was a flat rate between the steps, we wanted to return to percentage rate,” said Artz.

The council will vote on the tentative budget and on new fees, including those for building, park rentals and sports by June 9.

By June 23, the council plans to vote for the final budget.

The tentative 2022-23 budget received an infusion of support, $2.6M from ARPA and $1.8M in CARES funding. Most of those funds will go toward (capital projects and) council priorities.

Contact the reporter at mnelson@payson.com

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(6) comments

John Bracich

We seem to be spending more than taking in and financing the difference with the unassigned funds kitty. What happens when that money runs out, is our town to go into debt to make up the difference?

Jeff Robbins

What great news for every one .- The budget includes a $6.3 million increase for capital improvements such as roads. Good job .

Phil Mason

Great news?? an increase in tax takings from the people?? Get back on your meds.

Dave Golembewski

58 million dollar budget up from 49 million and No way will they cut the grocery tax or the sales tax to give back to the people or businesses . Just Grow the Yuuge bureaucracy more 🙏🇺🇸

Jeff Robbins

It is clear to everyone that you have no understanding of municipal finance . Your attention seeking nonsense is getting stale.

Phil Mason

And your three monkey actions are consistent with members of your party. You are the epitome of the DIMMS aka DEMOniCRATS.

Municipal finance is not simply taking more and more taxes from the citizens in the Republican Party that consistently is for lower taxes and smaller government.

The Town of Payson swamp creatures agree with you, Pelosi, and Biden that the opposite should be the goal.

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