Trenton City Council meeting highlights: city marketing, inspections, high-speed internet, city airport

City of Trenton

The Trenton City Council, on a vote of six in favor and two opposed, agreed to contribute 20-thousand dollars towards efforts to market Trenton and the ConAgra foods facility to potential businesses.

Of that 20-thousand dollars, ten thousand dollars is to come from the city and the other ten-thousand dollars from Trenton Municipal Utilities.

Boots said he’s been working with community stakeholders and the Industrial Development Corporation to develop strategies since ConAgra announced it planned to close the Trenton plant in 2018.

Boots explained he’s not been able to provide details because of confidentiality factors. Boots indicated the use of Ady advantage consulting firm Would help in efforts to find solutions.

Following a spirited discussion, council members Mark Moore, Allan Quilty, Travis Elbert, David Mlika, Scott Blair, and Jennifer Hottes voted in favor of contributing 20-thousand dollars towards the marketing work. Brad Chumbley and Larry Porter voted no.

Chumbley said he does not believe the expenditure is a being a good steward of taxpayers money and suggested the money could better be spent on utility and fiber optics infrastructure. He also noted the plant has been sold four times in the 26 years he’s worked there.

Earlier in the discussion, community development director Boots said the ConAgra building is for sale.

TMU director Chad Davis mentioned the efforts to market the building before it closes is an effort to save jobs.

He also noted the ConAgra plant provides about 60 percent of the revenue for TMU’s wastewater operations, 30 percent of the revenue for water service and 15 to 20 percent of electricity.

Councilman Scott Blair said spending the money on the marketing efforts is the right thing to do for jobs. Blair indicated the money spent is a drop in the bucket of what would be lost from losing jobs.

Industrial development member Diane Lowrey noted the IDC is in the process of a new membership drive and also would make a contribution.

Among other action items, the Trenton council approved an ordinance authorizing an aviation project consultant agreement with Olsson Associates.

The vote was seven in favor and Brad Chumbley opposed. The consulting fee is not to exceed slightly over 37-thousand dollars. The project involves crack repairs and a seal coating at the airport. It also includes applying runway non-precision instrument, taxiway, and apron markings.

Councilman Chumbley suggested the money spent at the airport could better be used for the city’s cost share program for tearing down houses in poor shape, and for infrastructure improvements. He said the town needs to be cleaned up, but the city only budgets 20-thousand dollars a year for demolition projects. He also mentioned improvements at the airport are subject to being destroyed by flooding.

However, airport manager Donnie Vandevender and street department supervisor Martin Sheib mentioned the need for maintenance to prevent much costlier replacement work.

The other council actions were unanimous, which included allowing the city to accept credit cards,

The council also approved an ordinance granting a conditional use permit to Sewell Agency of Chillicothe to display goods outside a fully enclosed building at 1039 Oklahoma Avenue.

The council approved a revision of the original plat of the Riverside Drive subdivision converting six lots into four by making two of them larger.

The Trenton Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended the city council approve the conditional use permit for Sewell Agency and the plat revision.

The Trenton council approved the only bid received for appraisals and appraisal reviews in connection with the future 17th street bridge project.

Minear Appraisal Service of Livonia is to be paid 13-hundred dollars for each of two properties involving land and commercial buildings.

The council also approved a policy for street cuts which requires at least nine inches of concrete overflow fill on commercial and industrial streets and at least six inches of concrete over flow-fill on other streets.

The council tabled discussion on whether to acquire a nuisance structure at 111 West Eleventh Street.

The property owner is willing to deed the property to the city. The demolition cost is estimated around four thousand dollars, but the cost to get rid of the siding containing asbestos has not been determined. The topic is expected to be discussed by the city council’s finance committee.

The council held an in-depth discussion regarding concerns about fire department inspections of businesses.

Fire Chief Rick Morris indicated city code adopted in 2006 has been followed. He indicated, if the council does not want the fire department following the code, the council should vote it out, and that the fire department would do what the council wants but that the department is attempting to prevent fires.

The inspections also allow the fire department to pre-plan for fighting any blaze.

Those inspections have revealed a need to simply move items, but, also required what’s considered to be some expensive actions, including electrical conduits.

The fire department suspended the inspections after some complaints were received.

A letter sent by the fire department to businesses regarding the inspections drew some criticism. Morris indicated it was sent while he was suspended, and that he did not write the letter. Since then, he’s drafted a more user-friendly letter and sent it to city clerk/interim City Administrator Cindy Simpson.

City attorney Tara Walker said efforts are being made to protect the public by doing those inspections. Council member Jen Hottes indicated she does not believe the city should stop the inspections.

Among other topics, Mayor McHargue repeated his opposition to filling the vacant city administrator position. He also suggested Trenton promote the sale of asphalt from its plant to area communities. In addition, there was a brief discussion that Trenton should offer to do street work in other communities if it does not interfere with work at Trenton.

Police Chief Tommy Wright said the police department has a position to fill after officer Seth Rorebeck went to work for the U.S. postal service.

With Trenton city officials looking at the potential for fiber optics for internet usage, Community Development Director Ralph Boots presented the council with a letter from KTTN/KGOZ co-owner and General Manager John Anthony encouraging city leaders to explore fiber optics technology. The letter discussed the need for high-speed internet at the radio stations.

Boots encouraged other businesses to contact him or TMU Director Chad Davis to provide input about the high-speed internet.

A person is needed to serve on the Trenton Tree Board. Gary Schuett has resigned from the tree board.

The Trenton Park Board also has a vacancy. Mayor Nick McHargue is awaiting a recommendation from the park board on who to appoint to the park board position formerly held by Daniel Gott.

The council met in closed session regarding real estate, with no announcement following the closed session.