By Lisa Young
In the latest Paonia town meeting, the town administrator provided an update on CARES Act reimbursements, the mayor thanked “pop-up” street participants, and one citizen vowed to never attend another town meeting.
“The board approved the Delta County Collaboration agreement regarding the Department of Local Affairs Coronavirus Relief fund at the end of June this year. We received approval notification Aug. 16 which retroactively allowed for reimbursement for COVID expenses that began March first of this year,” Ferguson said, adding that the first reimbursement request is expected to be filed by the end of the month.
“To date the town has spent approximately $10,375 of the Coronavirus Relief Fund,” she said.
To date town funds have been spent on personal protective equipment including masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, gloves and additional cleaning products. In addition, the town has spent funds on remote access software and equipment including IT support and a Zoom membership for remote meetings and other COVID-related items.
“Potential upcoming expenses are the upgraded sound system equipment for remote meeting and view by the public who don’t want to attend in person. The quote estimate is just shy of $20,000,” Ferguson said, adding that the existing sound system in the meeting room was not made for live streaming or YouTube.
Ferguson said the town is also looking into providing a small business grant program and additional advertising related to coronavirus needs. She reminded the board that the CARES Act money is a reimbursement program and not upfront money.
Paonia’s portion of the CARES Act fund, related to population size, is up to $125,000 in reimbursement monies spent by Dec. 30, 2020.
Trustee Michelle Pattison requested the town clerk provide the board with a list of what items the town is asking for reimbursement.
“I think it would be nice for the board to see and the public to see that these are funds spent related to COVID,” she said.
Paonia Mayor Mary Bachran recommended they report out “the big chunks, anything over $2,000” when they file for the reimbursement in December.
There was a question from the public if the funds could be used to waive town fees. Ferguson said that was not permitted under the DOLA grant.
Earlier in the meeting, Bachran thanked all the participants in the recent Grand Avenue “pop-up” trial. The project, supported by a CDOT reimbursement grant, was cut short due to a lack of compliance and complaints by citizens.
“We had over 700 people take the survey and that was a really wonderful turnout. It’s going to take us a while to compilate all the data because there were over 500 written comments to sort through as well,” she said, “Hopefully sometime November or December we’ll have an in depth presentation on the survey results.”
Paonia resident Constantine Hirschfeld, unhappy with the direction the town is heading, addressed the board during the public comment portion of the meeting. Some of his remarks were aimed at the recent changes to Grand Avenue paid for by a CDOT grant.
“Why do you favor bike riders over cars? They don’t obey the rules of the road and have no license plates to pay taxes on. Why is this? Also, why do you have a person who lives outside of town giving you advice on what to do in this town? And I could name a name, but it was in the paper and you’ll know who it is. Next, I don’t think that people who are on the council, who don’t say the pledge of allegiance should be on the council. I pledge six years of my life to the USA and proud of it. I still pledge myself to the USA. If you can’t say the pledge, move to a different country,” Hershfelt said, “This is what I have to get off my mind and this is the last meeting I will ever come to. Thank you.”
The next Paonia town council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.