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Paonia trustees address budgets, buildings and mag chloride

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It's municipal budget season and the Town of Paonia has released its annual preliminary budget calendar. The second of a series of budget work sessions is scheduled from 5-6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, ahead of the regularly scheduled meeting of the trustees at 6:30 p.m.

A proposed budget is expected to be presented to the board on Oct. 5, with a published notice of budget hearing on Oct. 9. If needed, additional budget workshops will be held Oct. 9 and 23, and a public hearing and final review by the board is scheduled for Nov. 13.

One item that could come before the board during budget talks is the use of magnesium chloride, or mag chloride, by the town as part of its snow removal plan. During a lively, nearly 40-minute discussion on snow removal at the Sept. 11 board meeting, the town said it would use mag chloride at key intersections starting this winter if conditions call for it. Purchase of product and a spreader are pending.

During discussion, which was requested by town resident Shirin Patterson and listed on the agenda as "Discussion request -- winter road maintenance," several citizens spoke against the use of mag chloride. Wanting more information, including alternatives to mag chloride, trustees voted 3-2 to leave the decision of mag chloride use up to town staff, and to direct staff to investigate alternatives.

Trustee Barry Pennell, who recently announced he will step down from the board, urged no action and asked the board to put the issue on a future agenda to allow more citizen input. Pennell said he learned a lot about the controversial chemical compound. "I think we have the opportunity to correct something that could be a mistake."

Information on deicers and sidewalks is posted at townofpaonia.com under Departments/Public Works.

Former trustee Bill Brunner has also requested a discussion on "building code and zoning issues and their implications for the future" be placed on the Sept. 25 agenda. The request is in response to a recent DCI article on a newly-constructed house and accessory building that exceed building code height limits.

Town administrator Ken Knight has also called for a budget discussion on costs to the town for contracting out building services versus providing those services in-house. That discussion was to take place at a Sept. 11 budget work session that was canceled. "Due to circumstances beyond our control," wrote Knight in an email, "staff does not believe that we will have all the information necessary" for the work session.

Agendas are available at townofpaonia.com at least 24 hours before the meetings, and are posted at Town Hall.

During the Sept 11 meeting, trustees also approved three special event licenses for events at Edesia Kitchen, including the Kids' Pasta Project dinners of Sept. 24 and Oct. 1, and a Paonia Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest event from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13.

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