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'Cured' ballots break tie in Paonia voting

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Of the four newly elected and re-elected trustees being sworn in at next Tuesday's Paonia Town Board meeting, Chelsea Bookout, Mary Bachran and Barry Pennell will begin four-year terms, and Samira Hart will serve a two-year term.

Official results from the April 3 election show Bookout received 311 votes, or 18.86 percent of the 1,845 votes, and Bachran received 306 votes (16.59 percent). Unofficial results had Pennell and Hart tied with 232 votes. Delta County Elections Office cured or received three additional ballots prior to the April 13 deadline, giving Pennell 233 votes, or a one-vote lead over Hart. Per town code, at each regular biennial election, three trustees will be elected to serve four-year terms. The candidate receiving the next-highest number of votes will serve a two-year term.

Before newly-elected trustees are sworn in and the new board is seated, the outgoing board will consider a handful of items under "old business." Among them is the adoption of a resolution setting the base building permit fee for valuations between $1-$500 at a flat $35 (See related story on B3).

The board will also consider a request from North Fork Ambulance Association for a modification of its lease with the town on its Paonia station located at 401 Second Street. The request was expected to go before trustees at the April 10 meeting, but was postponed due to scheduling conflicts with the NFAA. The association is seeking to change the lessee from the "North Fork Ambulance Association" to the "North Fork Ambulance District," should it become a special taxing district in the future (see "NFAA asking for lease amendment" in the April 4 DCI).

Also under old business, trustees will consider to adopt changes to the town's personnel handbook. On April 10 the board discussed changes to several sections of the 46-page handbook and were provided a draft "strike-through" of the changes for review. Trustees will again consider proposed changes at a special work session which begins at 5:30 p.m., prior to the April 24 meeting.

Some areas of concern include sick leave; paid and personal time off; social media; employee access to personnel files; incorporation of the employee salary table into town policy; voting leave in the age of mail-in ballots; and drug testing. Town administrator Knight said that due to the complexity of subjects like drug testing, it's possible trustees could not reach consensus and would vote to pass the changes on to the new board.

Once trustees are sworn in and the new board is seated, among their first duties is the appointment of a mayor pro tem from among the trustees, and appointment of the town clerk, treasurer, attorney and judge. All statutory appointments are for one-year terms, with the exception of the municipal judge, which is a two-year appointment. Judge Bradley Kolman has held the position the past 23 years.

The new board will also have to consider a $1 increase in the base fee for garbage collection in response to a 2017 increase in tipping fees by Delta County Landfill from $28 to $40.78. The current board was prepared to vote on the increase, but had to wait for adoption of an ordinance allowing the town to set costs for garbage hauling by resolution.

At its last full meeting on April 10, the board also:

Approved purchase of a 2016 John Deere lawnmower for parks maintenance at a cost of $12,500. The board approved $12,000 for a mower in the 2018 budget, and approved allocation of the additional $500 from the Street Sign Replacement Fund. Trustee Pennell voted against the purchase and the allocation of funds.

Gave approval to the Rotary Club of the North Fork Valley to hold its third annual Ducky Derby fundraiser at Apple Valley Park on Sept. 29.

Paonia public works director Travis Loberg reported that the town will begin sweeping the streets as early as this week. Loberg apologized for the dust that's likely to be kicked up by the sweeper due to ongoing dry conditions.

The board also recently approved the replacement of Town Hall's heating and air conditioning unit. Police Chief Neil Ferguson said that in the process of removing the old unit, workers discovered stress fractures in "every element of the old heater that was causing carbon monoxide to leak out as it was coming on." Had it been discovered prior to the removal of the unit, the town would have been required to shut it down until it was repaired or replaced. "So thank you," Ferguson told trustees.

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