Paonia’s five and a quarter miles of bumpy, deteriorating sidewalks are a problem. Earlier this year the Town attempted to get homeowners to pay for their own sidewalk repair -- but met with resistance from residents who said they could not afford it, even if the Town contributes half the cost of concrete up to $500.
Now ballot question 2A calls for a three dollar per month addition to utility bills for ten years to cover the cost of sidewalk maintenance.
“The question is not whether you have a sidewalk in front of your house but whether or not you walk on the sidewalk,” says Paonia Town Clerk Bar Peterson. She says approving the town’s sidewalk fund is the right way to go.
Peterson says the town does want to be pedestrian friendly. “We have many elderly and young and families with strollers,” she says. “My personal opinion is that it would be a really good thing for the town to take on.”
Two years ago the Town of Paonia floated a similar measure that was defeated by only 63 votes. But after the threat of having to pay for it by themselves, homeowners may see this as a better alternative.
The other municipal ballot question asks voters to allow Paonia to keep money it has already collected through mill levy, exempting the town from Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR legislation passed more than two decades ago in the state.
Next year the exemption would add only $3000 more to the town’s $2.2 million budget, but Peterson says it could mean a big difference in the future.
“It does put more money into the general fund, which funds our streets, our parks, our police department and our administration,” she says.
With about 700 registered voters, Paonia is the only municipality in Delta County with ballot questions, and this year for the first time you can cast your ballot at Paonia Town Hall, any time from now until 7 pm on Election Day, Tuesday November 5.