By Paul Frommelt
When Silvia Smith announced her retirement at the end of December, everyone was happy for her. After all, she had worked hard for the town of Payson for 30 years. Her replacement, Tracie Bailey, was certainly deemed qualified, having served with Silvia for 18 years. She served as the chief deputy town clerk the past 4 years, the deputy town clerk for 8 years, and as a clerk/senior clerk for 3 years.
Thus, it came as a surprise to discover that the town had immediately retained Silvia’s services as an ‘adviser’ of sorts to assist Tracie! After 18 years, does Tracie Bailey really need an adviser? Does the town really need the additional payroll expense? And how much is this additional layer of payroll costing the taxpayers?
We thought this sort of ‘arrangement’ had ended with the termination of Buzz Walker’s contract last year. If you remember, Buzz Walker had retired as Payson Water Director in 2010. Then it was discovered that the town had quietly contracted with Buzz Walker since then for an average payment of around $100,000.00 annually. He also had the use of a town car, and town credit card! Our current Water Department Director, Tanner Henry surely didn’t need those additional years of tutelage. Having worked for the town of Payson Water District since 2013, and working for Tetra Tech prior to that, why the additional layer of expense then… and now? He was surely qualified to step in when Mr Walker retired!
Why is it so hard to change the “same old, same old” ways of doing business in Payson? Haven’t we learned our lessons yet? Is it graft, or just ineptitude we are dealing with here? Why is it so difficult to let employees just retire, without rewarding them with an additional contract to continue in the same capacity as though nothing has changed? Except, of course, the extra paycheck! Can we say “drain the swamp?”
And now the question still remains: How many other examples of “double dipping” are to be found in the town’s payroll? How many more “friends” are we going to uncover, embedded in town payrolls? The question has been asked many times over the past several years, “Why has it taken Payson so long to recover from the recession, when other communities, and the State of Arizona recovered years ago?” Why indeed! Hopefully, no more Deja Vu!
One final thought here. Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘Cronyism” this way…’The situation in which someone important gives jobs to friends, rather than to independent people who have the necessary skills and experience.’ https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/cronyism
Don’t you think it’s time that Long serving senior town staff, responsible for hiring additional staff, begin to treat the taxpayers of Payson as their ‘friends’ also? ★