Council candidates discuss sidewalksby Olivia
Where do you stand on sidewalks? On the issue of sidewalks and who should pay for them, that is.
During an Oct. 20 "Meet the Candidates Night," candidates for town offices were asked durng the question-and-answer portion of the forum: Do you believe the town should pay for the maintenance of sidewalks not owned by the town, and if so, how would you propose paying for it?
Candidate Norm Moorhouse, who has pledged not to raise taxes if elected, said: "I don't believe that the town should pay for maintenance of sidewalks that don't belong to the town, but, on that topic, I do believe that, speaking with people door-to-door, it isn't right that the homeowners have to pay for the town sidewalks to be repaired. I believe that if it's a town sidewalk, the town should pay for it, find the money to pay for it. To put it on the homeowner, especially an older couple or people who are on a fixed income, it's just not right to put that on them."
Candidate Jim Sharpe said sidewalks are a benefit of all people in a community, and if a sidewalk falls into disrepair, the homeowner is responsible to pay for it.
But, he said, "I believe that somehow or another there ought to be sidewalk districts developed so that it is shared within the neighborhoods because it benefits the entire neighborhoods."
Town supervisor candidate Mary Cooke said creating a sidewalk district would create another tax line on a bill, similar to taxes in lighting districts.
"I'm not exactly sure how we're supposed to have sidewalks if no one is going to pay for them. If the town pays for them, you're going to pay for them in your taxes."
Since 1990, sidewalks have been required in sewer districts by town law, Cooke said.
Council candidate Richard Crawford said usually developers put in sidewalks and turn over their maintenance to the homeowner. To put in sidewalks in other communities would require a public hearing.
"If it's the wish of the people to have these sidewalk districts, then I would take that and vote in favor of creating it, but remember, that's an additional tax," he said.
Council candidate Gary Roesch said the town received a Housing and Urban Development grant for installation and repair of sidewalks for pedestrian safety.
"The Town Board listened and decided that if the residents did not want to utilize the sidewalks under a grant, we would back off, but we did continue on with repair of existing sidewalks ... as long as we can obtain grants to do things like this," he said.
Town supervisor candidate Pete McMahon said the real problem of sidewalks is hidden: "It costs the town probably twice as much money to fix your sidewalk than it would cost you to fix your sidewalk.
"So we're going to spend twice as much money, and we're going to pass that cost back to the resident? There's a better way and an easier way, and we did spend a lot of time with taxpayers in the last year talking to them about the easy and simpler ways that they could fix their sidewalks rather than replace them."