Discussion on several topics dominated a 90-minute meeting last night of the Trenton City Council.
Action was taken on just two items and approval was given by the seven council members present to a resolution for reimbursement to the city of over $54,000 in expenditures made since July on the new asphalt plant project. The other item approved was the transfer of a 2008 Ford Escape from Trenton Municipal Utilities for use by the city of Trenton code enforcement officer. Jen Hottes was absent.
Praise was extended to several city workers who came together Monday to clean out the vacated airport building that previously housed the pet treats making business. Economic developer for Trenton and Grundy County, Micah Landes, reported to the council, she showed the property to a business prospect whom, she said, was very interested in renting the entire building.
While not naming who the prospect is or what they would do, Mrs. Landes said the new business would initially have three full-time employees with more to be potentially added as the business grows. She said funding options are being explored by the party interested in having a business there. As a result, the city council last night skipped an agenda item which was a discussion on allowing the chamber and license bureau to locate at the airport building.
Mrs. Landes, who’s on the Chamber board, explained eight different locations have been considered for a temporary location. A decision is pending Department of Revenue requirements that must be met to locate a license fee office, including security system measures, cameras, and wiring.
Fire Chief Brandon Gibler reported on last weeks’ fire in the 600 block of Main. He noted the fire marshal’s office reports that it’s an open investigation and it’s expected to continue to be until such time as two insurance companies have machinery there to sort through the rubble, clean up debris, and doing something about two walls that remain upright. Gibler told the council he believes the fire was what he called “in an advanced stage” before the fire department was notified. He described the fire fighting efforts and use of six fire hydrants to tap the water supply. Councilmen praised the collective efforts of all city departments in being at the scene to assist.
Street Superintendent Martin Schieb reported scales have been set for the new asphalt plant and concrete work is to begin today for the scale house. The crane operator is to be in Trenton the week of March 18th to assist with construction. It’s anticipated two cranes will be used to set the silo for a couple days; one crane for the other days. City Administrator Ron Urton reported the asphalt plant project has a contingency fund of $129,000 with just $25,000 spent thus far.
Urton reported planning work by Burns and McDonnell Engineering is some $44,000 less than the figures it agreed not to exceed for two projects. This involved Burns and McDonnell inspection of the water tower painting and maintenance last year as well as the 17th and Harris water line project. In other words, it’s $44,000 the city did not spend.
Although the public comment portion was to include discussion of city tax liens on three properties Dennis Barnard bought at a tax sale, he did not attend the meeting. Mayor Nick McHargue said Barnard would like the properties released from the tax liens which collectively total about $22,000. It was noted precedent was set when another property owner paid $500 dollars to the city of Trenton to have a tax lien removed. The council was given a list of eight addresses with tax liens.
Discussion on snow removal from sidewalks was referred to the council’s administrative committee. The sidewalk code states it’s the responsibility of each property owner to maintain public sidewalks in a safe condition. This includes keeping sidewalks clear of mud, dirt, snow, ice, trash, and other objects. Several councilmen pointed out the sidewalk code is not being enforced.
The Trenton City Council has been considering how to finance the nearly $3,000,000 expected cost for the proposed headworks project as part of the improvements being made to the sewer plant. One idea is to allow Trenton municipal’s electric fund, which shows a surplus even after holding to a minimum reserve, to loan money to the wastewater fund.
Charlie Zitnik of the financial advising company DA Davidson was invited to last nights’ city council meeting and shared his thoughts. He pointed out an independent review of Trenton’s A-plus credit rating indicates reserves are adequate, but he warned a questionable business practice could affect that rating for the future.
If the council were to pursue loaning money from one TMU fund to another, Zitnik advised in part that it be as transparent as possible with regard to a documented loan agreement, an amortization schedule with payback of the loan plus interest, and limited to three years. He also recommends having a written opinion from the city’s attorney, although he admitted there’s not much guidance from the state.
It’s felt by Mayor Nick McHargue among others that loaning money from one TMU fund to another would be done at a lower rate of interest than the amounts required by a financial broker and banking institution. One councilman said the city needs to make the best use of reserves.
No action was taken on this topic last night by the Trenton City Council.