City officials didn't exactly get what they expected from a "state of the city" meeting with residents Wednesday night.
While a few of the members of the City Council told the Deseret News they expected to be put on the hot seat about Payson's recent financial woes, residents instead seemed to be more concerned with the status of the city's pressurized irrigation project, the fund balance of its golf course and the city's involvement in the Peteetneet Academy restoration project.Officials asked residents to submit questions in advance of the meeting, so they would have time to respond. Councilman Brent York said in a previous interview that the council hoped to "clear up a lot of misconceptions about the city's status."
In fact, because of the evident lack of concern for the city's financial state, Councilman Fred Swain said in closing he was slightly disappointed in the meeting.
"The city is close to $500,000 in arrears, in case you're wondering why the council meets so often," Swain said. (The council has held 17 full meetings since the year began).
"You need to be informed that, financially, we're kind of in trouble," Swain said. "We've had to strip some departments' budgets to the bone, and that should let you know it's for real."
Councilman Kirk Mittleman and City Administrator Keith Morey have reopened the city's fiscal 1992 budget and have made more than $100,000 in departmental budget cuts, Swain said.
According to Swain and Electrical Superintendent Ronnie Crump, some of the city's woes come from a revenue shortfall in the city's electrical department. Crump said that power suppliers have increased their costs to the city, which has decreased that fund's profitability.
Additionally, council members pointed out that the city has raised its residential garbage pickup rate from $5 to $10 monthly, in order to bring that fund's balance up and also help the city pay for environmental upgrades that they will have to make to the city landfill.
During the meeting itself, the city's five councilmen fielded more than 20 questions from residents.
In response to questions about the Gladstan Golf Course, York said the city currently subsidizes the course. "It's never operated in the black, but we're doing everything we can to make sure it will post a profit or at least break even," York said.
Councilman Ray Hiatt told the full house at the Payson City Banquet Room that officials are planning on having the pressurized irrigation system on line by May. And York, fielding questions concerning the People Preserving Peteetneet group, said city officials hope to have the group post profits and have it run self-sufficiently by the time its three-year contract with the city expires.