Trenton city budget fails to pass; finance committee to “sharpen pencil”

City of Trenton Website

Trenton’s’ Finance Committee will take another look at the proposed city of Trenton budget after an ordinance to adopt the budget, failed to get enough affirmative votes during Monday nights’ city council meeting. The city budget shows deficit spending of $158,000 for the one year period from May 1st through next April 30th.

The roll call vote on the ordinance to adopt the budget as presented ended in a four to four tie. It takes five affirmative votes among council members to approve an ordinance.

In favor of the city budget that was proposed last night were Cathie Smith, Larry Crawford, John Dolan, and Glenn Briggs. Opposed were Dave Mlika, Lou Fisher, Danny Brewer, and Brad Chumbley. A short time later, the city council approved on a 6 to 2 split vote, an ordinance to adopt the Trenton Municipal Utility budget.

Dave Mlika suggested pay raises for city employees be delayed until August to allow the council more time to evaluate finances and monitor the sales tax figures. He suggested the current city budget be extended to cover the next four months.

The finance committee previously recommended a 75 cent per hour increase for employees. The proposed budget showed department heads getting a $1,560 dollar raise. The budget also includes step increments within police, fire, and street departments for certifications and responsibilities involving staff. City Administrator said those increases are offset by the recent retirement of two department heads.

While the suggestion to delay the pay raises generated discussion, there didn’t seem to be much support last night.

Instead, Brad Chumbley said the city’s budget should return to the finance committee for it to consider possible cuts that he believes could be made in an effort to trim the projected deficit. He described it as a time for city officials to “sharpen the pencil” some more.

Mayor Linda Crooks, who participated via Zoom, expressed her disappointment and called for city workers to receive the pay raises. Chumbley said he values city employees and they deserve a raise, but he feels there are other portions of the city budget where spending can be reduced.

The Trenton Finance Committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday at 4:30.

The TMU budget, which shows projected balances in the electric, water, and waste-water funds, includes recommended pay increases for TMU employees.

On the roll call, voting in favor of the TMU budget as presented last night were Larry Crawford, John Dolan, Glen Briggs, Danny Brewer, Brad Chumbley, and Cathie Smith. Voting no were Dave Mlika and Lou Fisher.

Larry Crawford, who’s the finance committee chairman, said this potentially creates what he called “a dilemma” as TMU employees get their pay increases as of May 1st while the city of Trenton employees may have to wait until later; pending whatever is recommended at Wednesday’s committee meeting. Other members of the finance committee are Brad Chumbley, Cathie Smith, and John Dolan.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Trenton City Council is April 27th which is still before the fiscal year begins on May 1st for the city of Trenton.