Election results certified, new council members sworn in, mowing of property not owned by city all topics of Trenton City Council meeting

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Election results were certified by ordinance and the oaths of office were given to four newly-elected city councilmen. Sworn in at the city hall ceremony were Councilman Kevin Klinginsmith in First Ward; Marvin Humphreys in Second Ward; Dave Mlika in Third Ward; and Duane Urich in Fourth Ward. They join four holdover members.

The council voted to elect Cathie Smith as the Mayor Pro Tem and Mayor Linda Crooks postponed appointments to three committees and six boards within the city.

Before leaving the city council, Mayor Crooks thanked Lou Fisher, BradChumbley, and Larry Crawford for serving. Chumbley, in his remarks, stated the Park Board made a difficult decision in not opening the municipal swimming pool this summer. It’s due, he said, to a staffing issue and not getting lifeguards certified because of COVID-19 precautions. He encouraged members of the public who disagree with the Park Board decision to at least “respect” their decision regarding the pool.

Also certified Monday evening was the voter-approved passage of the five percent bed tax on sleeping rooms for guests of motels in Trenton.

Two other ordinances also were unanimously approved at the council meeting. A conditional use permit will be issued to Kipp and Cara McClellan to build cottages at the north end of Hoover Drive. The other ordinance approves an intergovernmental agreement for the city of Trenton to apply for funds from Grundy County distributed through the federal CARES Act.

City administrator Ron Urton said invoices regarding things like personal protective equipment and overtime are to be submitted by November and then the city gets reimbursed in December for its costs pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following considerable discussion, the new city council decided to refer to the administrative committee, the problem of absentee property owners who are not mowing the grass as several locations in Trenton were cited. City Attorney Tara Walker told the council the only option is for the city to hire someone to mow it, place a lien on the property if it should be sold, then hope to collect for costs incurred in mowing.

City Clerk Cindy Simpson said the lack of mowing by absentee property owners comes up every year. She notes the city spends about $3,500 to mow property it owns as well as the yards whose owners are unknown or can’t be located. Duane Urich suggested the council needs to make an effort to explore what, if anything, can be done for the city to stem its losses due to mowing of lots that it doesn’t own.

City Administrator Ron Urton announced a new development in the planning for a new airport hangar, one he said should address everyone’s concerns. After visiting with a pilot from Mercer, Justin Bickell, Urton said the existing south hangar would be demolished and about four feet of dirt fill placed in that location to get the new building above the flood plain.

Urton said documents are being prepared for Bickel to lease airport ground from the city and initially build a hangar accommodating four planes with the option for an additional four bays to the structure.

Urton reported Olsson and Associates Engineering is to provide an updated design plan this summer for the council to review. As previously reported, the Federal Aviation Administrator has credited $150,000 each year in the name of the Trenton airport to be spent on improvements like site preparation, runway, and taxiway work which requires a 10% local match, however, those federal funds can not be spent for a building project.

To keep those federal funds in the name of Trenton, the airport must house a minimum of 10 planes. It presently has 13. Urton said the thinking now is to keep the existing north hangar as is; with pilots paying the current city rent of $125 a month. It was noted rent in the new hanger is proposed at $300 a month.

Urton said Burns and McDonnel Engineering is preparing a change order on repairs to an older part of the headworks at the sewer plant. He noted the old grid system will be removed and pumps needs to be upgraded to the holding lagoons. The headworks project is operational and is removing large materials and grit.

After discussing a request from the Trenton Lake Association, the city council voted to have an ordinance prepared to add a portion of Mariner Road, south of Lake Trenton Drive, to the list of locations where parking is prohibited. A spokesman for the association, Dave Alley, indicated having “no parking” signs then allows police to enforce the area which he said has seen motor vehicles blocking access to the boat dock and swim areas that are only used by the lake association members.

The council accepted four budget adjustments to close out the recent fiscal year.