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SOME OPPOSE DECISION TO MAKE AIDE FULL-TIME

No one is disputing that Paul Blanchard, Payson's economic development director, has been doing a good job for the past two years. There is, however, some debate as to whether his job should have been made a full-time, salaried position.

Blanchard has been working to attract business and industry to Payson since 1993, when the city contracted with the Payson Area Chamber of Commerce to create an economic development office. With a budget of $20,000, the city hired Blanchard as a part-time director and Deanna Hansen as his secretary. At that time, the position had a performance-based salary, with the future of the position being on an as-needed or temporary basis.Last year, members of the Payson City Council decided to make Blanchard's position full-time, though his salary remained performance-based.After considerable discussion, council members decided this month to make Blanchard a full-time, scaled salary employee.

"This decision was based on a workload that had accelerated due to the positive economic environment that Utah is currently experiencing," said Councilwoman Kay Furniss, who voted for the change. "Consensus was that public opinion had mandated the emphasis on economic development and now was the time if Payson City was to ever become a viable, competitive player in the valley."

But Stephen Hanson, a former city councilman, opposed the council's actions, calling it "a protest against growing bureaucracy and government based on scale rather than on performance."Hanson said he has no complaints about Blanchard's performance, but he does not think it is in Payson's best interest "to create another permanent, (salary) plus benefits position.

"Don't confuse this protest with being anti-growth or non-progressive," he said.

Furniss, though, said Blanchard came close to attracting Micron Semiconductor Inc. to Payson and that he is not duplicating services the city receives from Utah Valley Economic Development Association Executive Director Richard Bradford.

"If the economic goals and objectives that the community has set are to be reached, it will require hard work, diligence and support from within the community," she said.

And while other residents say they're concerned that the council has now made Blanchard untouchable - that he won't be accountable to the city but will continue to receive automatic pay raises each year - Furniss said he will be accountable to the council.

"The City Council has the duty and responsibility, by law, to evaluate the position or any position, and if the day comes, eliminate it if there is no longer a need," she said.