Trenton City Council divided on issues at Monday meeting

City of Trenton Website

The Trenton City Council last night took votes on three ordinances, passing one of them on a split vote to enact a leash law.

The council heard presentations from four citizens on topics like downtown Christmas lights; a property lien the city holds following demolition of a house; cable television reception in the lake Trenton area; and the current ban on specific breeds of dogs.

After a majority of the council had voted to develop specifications and seek bids for an asphalt plant; the Mayor had to break a tie vote on a temporary hiring freeze for the city and TMU. All of this and other topics were handled during a sometimes contentious two-hour-long meeting at city hall.

An ordinance amending a section of code entitled “dogs running at large” was approved with five votes in favor and three opposed. In part, it requires pet owners to have their dogs on a leash, cord, or chain affixed to the collar. In favor were Larry Porter, Brad Chumbley, Dave Mlika, Larry Crawford, and Jen Hottes. Opposed were Travis Elbert, Glen Briggs, and Allan Quilty.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Nick McHargue asked Police Chief Tommy Wright if the leash law will be enforced. Chief Wright responded officers would enforce it just as much as other city ordinances, but he pointed out police need to have “victims” come forward if they see a violation.

It was noted current city code calls it a nuisance violation if a dog defecates on public or private property other than the owners. He recommends those walking their dog, including those using the city walking track, should be prepared to remove waste and properly dispose of it.

The came after Trenton resident Tammy Corbin again addressed the city council, complaining a discussion was not being held on lifting the ban on breed-specific dogs.

Ms. Corbin said she feels she’s been singled out because she has a Doberman which is one of the banned breeds. She told the council she intends to register her Doberman as a “service dog.”  Ms. Corbin also addressed Councilwoman Jen Hottes on what kind of dog she has. After a pause, Hottes said it was a rottweiler. That’s also on the banned breed list at Trenton. Ms. Corbin also promoted House bill 1398 which, if approved by the legislature, would prohibit cities from regulating dogs in a breed-specific manner.

The council heard from Gaylon McCorkle who moved to Trenton six months ago and resides on Skier Point. He complained about television reception problems with Suddenlink Communications. Fourth Ward council members Larry Crawford and Jen Hottes agreed there are problems. City Administrator Ron Urton was asked by the council to contact Suddenlink’s corporate office about getting issues fixed for customers.

Millie Hutchinson said she’s interested in acquiring a vacant lot at 427 West 13th Street but not with the city of Trenton tax lien stemming from the demolition of the house.  She offered the city $500 if the council would agree to release the lien. The city does not own the property; it only has the tax lien. The council agreed to the proposal pending Millie Hutchinson obtaining the empty lot next to property she already owns.

Tracy Utley spoke on behalf of the Five Points Alive committee which is raising funds for additional Christmas lights throughout downtown Trenton.

Mrs. Utley told of a five-year plan to decorate downtown buildings with Christmas lights from the Courthouse to the Jewett Norris Library. A professional installer, she said, has indicated the cost would be $3000per block. She also discussed with the council the possibility of decorating the five points flag pole. No action was taken.

City officials had been asked to get a cost estimate and information on permitting process regarding a new asphalt plant for Trenton. The current plant is aging and if certain parts fail, may not be in operation to produce asphalt for street projects. Mayor

Nick McHargue said sales of asphalt allowed the city to have a $300,000 profit last year. And with a new plant, even more asphalt could be produced and sold to customers. The estimate for the complete project tops $1,400,000. After discussion, a motion was made to develop specifications and seek bids.

The motion passed seven to one with Councilman Brad Chumbley voting no calling the idea “ridiculous.” He had stated his feelings revolve around some people with $800 utility bills, and city employees not having a raise in pay for some time.  Then Chumbley presented a motion to have a hiring freeze until the next city budget year begins in May. This is when the tie vote, four to four, occurred with Mayor Nick McHargue breaking the tie by voting in favor of the employee hiring freeze. Four council members in favor were Chumbley, Mlika, Crawford, and Porter. Opposed were council members Briggs, Quilty, Elbert, and Hottes.

When asked about staffing, Chief Tommy Wright reported police will be one officer short of full staff due to Dana Quader of Columbia, hired earlier in the month, withdrawing due to a family health issue.

The city council did have a couple unanimous votes last night with approval given to Irvinbilt Constructors of Chillicothe for water control valve installation at both water towers. An ordinance on miscellaneous purchasing requirements was amended to make allowances for purchasing used equipment as long as the item was budgeted.

Larkin and Associates were approved on a vote of seven to one to develop plans for water and sewer main work prior to street overlay projects in 2019 on portions of East 9th and on Normal. Brad Chumbley voted no as it came right after the asphalt plant topic.

A decision was tabled in the city of Trenton’s proposed financial support of a reverse 911 public notification system. The $5,000 annual cost from Everbridge Communications is to be shared with Grundy County and the health dept. It basically establishes a system that calls landline phone numbers, and those with cell phones who opt-in, with recorded messages warning of a weather emergency.

This is being looked at instead of upgrading the three storm warning sirens at a reported cost of $20,000 apiece.

MoDOT submitted a proposal that the Mayor and council felt was not in the best interest of Trenton. City Administrator Urton was asked to share concerns with MoDOT and/or contact area legislators for some assistance.

On an unrelated matter, Urton reported paperwork on the right of way clearance has now been delayed on the 17th street bridge project due to an environmental issue.

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