Trenton City Council repeals breed-specific dog ban after overriding Mayor’s veto

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It took two votes before the Trenton City Council approved an ordinance to repeal the ban on specific breeds of dogs, including pit bulls and pit bull mix.

The council adopted budgets for the city of Trenton and Trenton Municipal Utilities for the next fiscal year, and the council, in effect, took no action on a request to endorse making it a full-time position for the Grundy County Prosecuting Attorney.

Much of Monday night’s meeting involved a discussion among the eight councilmen and the public regarding the ban on certain breeds of dogs within the city limits.

The council first approved the repeal of the breed ban by a rolled call vote of six in favor and two opposed. Mayor Linda Crooks, via zoom, immediately vetoed the council decision. A motion was then made to override the mayor’s veto. And that also was approved by a roll call vote of six to two. Voting in the affirmative both times were Lance Otto, Kevin Klinginsmith, Danny Brewer, Robert Romesburg, Duane Urich, and John Dolan. Voting no both times were Marvin Humphreys and Dave Mlika.

Some of the people attending the council meeting represented the Green Hills Animal Shelter while others spoke in favor of lifting the breed-specific ban. No one from the public attending the city hall meeting spoke in favor of keeping the breed ban.  It was noted Trenton still has an ordinance on owning, keeping, and harboring dangerous or vicious dogs. There’s also a provision addressing animal neglect issues.

The council requested the creation of an animal welfare or advisory committee of citizens be placed on the agenda for the next city council meeting.

On a unanimous vote, the city council adopted a deficit budget for the city of Trenton. On a vote of seven in favor and one opposed, the council adopted the

TMU budget. The only “no” vote on the TMU budget was by Marvin Humphreys. Both budgets take effect May 1st for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The councils’ finance committee has met multiple times in recent weeks to work on the budgets.

In looking over the budgets, salaries for key city officials and department heads remain the same as the current year – meaning no pay raises were granted.

The city of Trenton’s budget shows a predicted deficit of $546,000 for the period from this May through April of next year. Revenues from all sources are listed as more than $3,424, 000 plus the routine transfer of $235,000. Expenses involve all city departments, which include administrative, police, fire, community development, streets, airport, code, and non-department. Collectively the expenses top $4,206,000. The anticipated fund balance as of May 1st for the city is $2,508,036. If the deficit is realized through the coming months, then the projected balance of all funds by April 30th of 2023 is $1,961,585. One year ago this month, the council adopted a budget with a projected deficit of as much as $303,000, however, it appears now that the current fiscal year for the city will end April 30th with a budget deficit of just over $37,000.

For Trenton Municipal Utilities, revenues from electric, water, and sewer are estimated to be more than $13,724, 000. Expenses are projected to be $10, 244, 000, but after depreciation is considered, the net revenues after depreciation of equipment is $1,109, 000. Only the electric department has a negative balance ($186,259) for the fiscal year after expenses and depreciation are subtracted from the gross revenues.

As far as cash flow, the budget overview shows projections at the end of the next fiscal year to be more than $3,285,000 in electric, over $2,720,000 in water, and more than $3, 062,000 in waste-water or the sewer fund. The waste-water fund is the only one whose balance would be below the minimum cash reserve balance previously set by the city council.

It was reported by some of the councilmen that they visited with Kelly Puckett before the council meeting, but he, Puckett, did not attend the public meeting. Puckett is collecting signatures on a petition to request Grundy County have a public vote on making the prosecuting attorney position full-time instead of the current part-time status. At least two of the councilmen announced they signed the petition as individuals, but the council stopped short of making any endorsement as they wanted the record to show it was neither for, nor against, the full-time county position. It was said a full-time prosecutor means a significant increase in salary as set by the state.

On other topics, the council voted seven to one with Humphreys opposed, to using Insituform Technologies USA of Chesterfield for the lining of 2, 15, and 21-inch clay pipe sewer mains in designated work areas of Trenton. The cost, on a previously accepted bid plus alternates, was $330, 000. Funds will come from the federal money Trenton received in the American Rescue Plan Act. (ARPA)

Discussion on air brakes, commonly referred to as “Jake Brakes”, for large trucks entering Trenton led to information that Trenton does have a city ordinance regarding the loud noise. A Jake Brake is a type of compression release brake that helps truck drivers slow down their rigs without wearing out the service brakes. A copy of the Trenton ordinance is to be sent to the department of transportation which then will post signs at the entrances to Trenton regarding the Jake Brakes ordinance.

Police Chief Rex Ross said officers on each shift last week viewed traffic entering Trenton with none of them reporting any possible violators of that city ordinance.

Matt Roberts requested the council and city officials consider paving the two blocks of West 11th street that are bricked- noting concrete patching and rough travel. Administrator Ron Urton said he would speak with the street supervisor about it.

Mayor Crooks re-appointed, with council consent, Gary Schuett to the police personnel board. Speaking via zoom, Mayor Crooks congratulated the NCMC men and women basketball teams for their season and wish the lady Pirates good luck in the game in the National Junior College, Division Two, tournament in Michigan.

With minimal discussion, the Trenton City Council Monday night adopted budgets for the city and Trenton Municipal Utilities for the year beginning May 1st. Members of the finance committee have met several times with city officials in recent weeks in developing the two budgets.

Salaries have been established by city ordinance for the 2022-23 fiscal year. And no raises were given for workers by the city nor Trenton Municipal Utilities. For Trenton City Administrator and utility director Ron Urton, the salary remains at $89,685. Of that amount, one-half is paid by Trenton Municipal Utilities. When benefits, health insurance, and retirement are added, the total compensation for Urton is $116,918.

For City Clerk Cindy Simpson, her salary remains at $55,406. The salaries remain the same at $3,000 for the Mayor; $1,200 for each of the eight councilmen and $1200 for the city treasurer.

Others are Police Chief Rex Ross at $64,000; Fire Chief Brandon Gibler is at $52,682, Street Supervisor Gary Dryer is just over $55,000, Building Inspector and Code Officer Wes Barone has a salary of $44,205.

Among the expenditures is $20,000 for the city’s contribution to economic development and $50,000 for the demolition program. Items requested under the capital projects sales tax fund include more than $285,000 for street overlays and maintenance; nearly $29,000 payment on the wheel loader and $61,000 payment on the asphalt plant.

Trenton Municipal Utility salaries remain the same as last year. Among them: Comptroller Rosetta Marsh has a salary of$55,219. Department head salaries include Brad Griffin for electrical distribution at $67,500; Salaries for Steve Reid in water production; Kenny Ricketts in water distribution and Bob Hutchinson for the wastewater department- each is $56,425.

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