Green Valley Park Sunset fishing

Green Valley Park could see both a Splash Pad and new road from the Event Center if the Payson Town Council decides to add those items to the upcoming budget.

Calling all Payson residents: May 30 offers a chance to weigh in on the Town of Payson’s roughly $19 million general fund budget.

That includes any comments on the proposed $290,000 splash pad, $130,000 for a federally required environmental study on the road from the Payson Event Center to Green Valley Park and possibly funding a feasibility study on a community center with an indoor pool.

“The mayor can accept input from the council, staff and public,” said Town Manager LaRon Garrett.

The council will vote on a tentative budget on June 13 and a final budget on June 27, said Garrett. Until then, the council has not voted to approve any spending.

Town Chief Financial Officer Deborah Barber presented a budget that used zero-based budgeting to analyze line items from each town department during the last budget work-study in early May.

“We worked really hard to cut our budget to the bone…we feel we have a solid budget,” said Barber.

The budget will follow financial guidelines set by previous councils regarding the rainy day fund and a fund to pay for equipment and other capital needs.

“If we move $800,000 to contingency, we would have a $1 million contingency fund … if you approve … $300,000 would be moved to the capital replacement fund … the policy would then have been met,” she told the council during a work study session.

Then she brought up requests that have not been funded, initiating a council discussion on a splash pad, a community center with indoor pool and an environmental study for a road from the Payson Event Center to Green Valley Park.

“The ones that we don’t know yet, what you would like to do with the splash pad … it looked like the cost at that came in at $230,000. Impact fees are estimated around $60,000. We looked at utilities, those looked at somewhere … upwards of $1,500 per month for utilities for water and electricity,” said Barber, “… and then the other request that came in recently was an environmental study to connect the event center and Green Valley Parkway.”

Councilor Chris Higgins signaled his support for a road, especially since it offers another escape route if the town had to evacuate due to wildfire.

“It’s been on the map for a very long time,” he said.

Councilor Barbara Underwood agreed.

“On the environmental study … I do feel it’s got to be a No. 1 priority for me, only because it’s another fire exit in case of a fire,” she said.

Mayor Tom Morrissey also supported the road study.

“It is a public safety issue, more than an economic issue,” said Morrissey. “That’s the approach, at least in the conversations I have had with the Forest Service.”

Underwood also wanted to move forward with a study on replacing Taylor Pool. “I would like to see us moving forward with a new pool.”

Morrissey agreed, “We need to start thinking more out of the box on this stuff,” and suggested the council “look at maybe a community center that would have an enclosed pool.”

He also pushed the splash pad, “because if the pool goes down we will have nothing.” With the splash pad, “you have a wet playground at least, that addresses some of that.”

Garrett suggested the council could take money from the $2 million carry over fund for the splash pad and NEPA study on a new road. He suggested putting together a bond proposal for a community center, which would need voter approval.

The public can still express support or opposition to any of these ideas as the budget process continues at the May 30 work-study meeting at 5 p.m. in the council chambers.

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I cover the Town of Payson, courts, wildfire, business, families, non-profits, the environment and investigative reporting

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