AUBURN — The city of Auburn’s policy for replacing sidewalks is the most cost-effective, City Councilman Kevin Webb said Tuesday night.

Webb, who owns a concrete contracting company, spoke at the council‘s meeting in City Hall.

He noted that the condition of Auburn’s sidewalks has been mentioned as a problem by both candidates in the city’s campaign to elect a new mayor.

If an Auburn property owner wants to replace a sidewalk, a city crew will remove the old walk and handle much of the preparation, including removal of tree roots, at no cost. The property owner hires a contractor to install the sidewalk and pays for the new concrete.

Mayor Norm Yoder said the city’s efforts save a property owner about 40% of the cost of replacing a sidewalk, although Webb estimated it at closer to 35%.

“Auburn never refuses to tear out a sidewalk for any homeowner, ever,” Webb said.

In contrast, Webb said his company works in a community where the local government pays directly for replacing sidewalks. He said that due to its limited budget, that community replaced six sidewalks last year and 12 this year.

Auburn’s plan allows for fixing an unlimited number of sidewalks, Webb said.

“I think Auburn has a pretty good program,” Webb said, adding that having the city handle demolition of old sidewalks is the most cost-effective approach.

“We have never gone to where we have forced people to fix their sidewalks,” Yoder said.

“Most of the property owners that own their own houses take care of their sidewalks pretty well,” Yoder added. “The challenge is when you have rental properties. They don’t want to put a dime in them.”

Yoder said if the city were to pay for replacing some owners’ sidewalks, then everyone would expect the same treatment.

Yoder will retire at the end of this year after 20 years as mayor.

“If I was running again, I probably would revise that program to put a fresh face on it,” he said about the city’s plan for sidewalk improvement.

“It needs refreshed in some way. I don’t know what that is,” Yoder said.

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