By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
regular October meeting of the Trenton City Commission was unusually
well-attended, with the “usual suspects” – representatives of the town’s civic
organization and local press – joined not only by challengers for commission
seats in the upcoming Nov. 5 city elections but by members of the Dade County
Industrial Development Authority, present to seek approval for IDA’s proposed
tax incentive package.
Emanuel as usual started with a comprehensive tour of the city’s finances.
Revenues were down for September, he said, with, for example, only $806 coming
in for licenses and permits. On the other hand, he said, the city historically
gets a hefty insurance reimbursement check about this time of year that should
with any luck balance things out by the end of 2013. “We are guardedly
optimistic that with that increase in revenue, we are in line with our
zero-based budget,” said the mayor.
Commissioner Sandra Gray said the only business her department had this month
was a formality: to amend a motion she
made last month moving SPLOST (special project local option sales tax) funds
into a capital building fund to concrete the police firing range. She should
have mentioned that the funds were to be from the 800 radio fund, she said.
duly voted to approve this amendment.
the floor to the other commissioners, though, Ms. Gray commended one of the
members of the local press present at the meeting: In a highway accident she
had worked in her day job as a paramedic the preceding weekend, she said,
newsman Evan Stone had been the hero of the hour, pulling an injured man from a
burning car. “If he survives, he’s got Evan Stone to thank for it,” she said.
roundly congratulated on his valor by Mayor Emanuel and audience members. After
the meeting, he explained he had been at the crash scene not as a journalist
but by chance; he had simply been following the ill-fated vehicle in traffic.
Utilities Commissioner Tommy Lawson said he’d hoped to have completed a
promised report on sewer problems by this meeting but had not managed; it would
have to wait until November. But he explained before concluding: “This has been the biggest year of breakdowns
for the sewer department.”
Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell said he had nothing to report, only a
recommendation: “If you haven’t been by
the park in a few weeks, you really should. It looks a lot different than it
did a month ago.”
But the mayor
said Powell was being unduly humble; Jenkins Park had been transformed.
Furthermore, said Emanuel: “We’re not through.”
a streets commissioner – incumbent Greg Houts moved outside the city limits,
and sole candidate for his replacement David Raines may not take over until
after the November election – the mayor made the streets report, drawing the
audience’s attention to the several roads the city has recently been paving.
“We’re doing as much of this before winter as our budget will allow,” said
The only other
order of official business was a motion that Trenton abandon a little-known
city street, Johnson Circle, to facilitate Case Ace Hardware’s plan to move
from the town square into the site of the old Village Green Apartments, which
were destroyed in the April 2011 tornados. “It affects no residences and it
affects no business other than theirs,” specified the mayor.
The motion was
duly made and passed, and the mayor commended hardware store proprietor Larry
Case on his family’s long tenancy of the store and of the Trenton town
square. “Tommy [Commissioner Lawson] and
I can remember the fire because if nothing else, it got us out of football
practice that day,” said Emanuel, referring to a fire that destroyed the
hardware store’s previous building in the 1950s.
the fire, too; it was on a Wednesday and the family had begun construction on a
new building by the next Monday, he said. “We’d like to keep it open another
100 years at least,” he said.
In the civic
organizations portion of the meeting, Chris Musser, the new director of the
Dade County Chamber of Commerce, introduced himself, reported at some length on
the C of C’s recent activities, and said he was now recruiting for businesses
and organizations to run booths at Trick or Treat Alley, the Chamber’s yearly
Halloween fete, on Oct. 26.
Marshana Sharp said the library will not be able to participate in the event as
much as in previous years but is determined to be there and to help as much as
She said the
GED program at the library remains busy, with many new students, and she
regretted that a class in Microsoft Excel had filled up – but if anybody still
wants to enroll, call (706/657-7857) and leave your name; a second session will
be scheduled if there is sufficient interest.
Ms. Sharp also
reminded attendees of the library’s regional and local board of directors
meeting, both upcoming on Oct. 24, and that the library’s nonprofit Friends
group was trying to raise $20,000 to keep the doors open for the rest of the
year. About $7000 has been gathered so
spoke for the Trenton Arts Council, “The
Arts Council, as usual, has a lot of balls in the air,” she said. Local artist Chuck Peters was working on a
metal and stained glass sculpture for TAC’s ongoing ArtScapes public art
project, she said, and another artist had been lined up to design welcome-to-Trenton
signs. She also showed the commissioners
the September Chatter magazine, which mentions TAC in its article on the
explosion of local spoken-word performance art.
Eloise Gass of
Tree City said her group was working on an arboretum at the middle school which
should look nice when completed. City
Clerk Lucretia Houts praised her for her hard work, and Ms. Gass explained with
some dignity that she was a modest soul who found such compliments
speaker was Nathan Wooten, IDA chairman, presenting to the city his group’s
proposed tax incentive package for prospective industry. The package, he
explained, offers businesses that invest serious money in Dade County and
create serious numbers of jobs seriously good terms: Land as cheap as free and
tax breaks as good as complete exemption, for periods of from five to 10 years.
IDA is taking
the proposal before all three taxing agencies in Dade, said Wooten; the county
commission had heard the proposal at its October meeting on the 3rd, and Wooten
said he’d go before the county school board next Monday.
updated the city commissioners on what IDA had been doing lately: It had just
closed on a bond issuance in partnership with Dade County, borrowing $1 million
to install roads and utilities in IDA’s new expansion of the county’s existing
The mayor asked
Wooten if IDA had plans to approach the city with a similar bond issue
partnership – answer: no, not so far – and opined that bonds could be a good
thing if revenues materialized to pay them back. He and Wooten also discussed
the possibility of the city annexing the new industrial park: As it stands,
they concurred, little of the new acreage lies within city limits.
But as to the
tax incentive package. Emanuel declined to act on it this month. He said he understood the city was not
deriving any tax revenues from the raw land of the industrial park expansion
now, but he felt the commission needed time to think over the proposition
anyway. “It’s a lot of money to commit for a city our size,” he said. “We’re looking
at two or three million dollars.”
And the mayor
offered Wooten with IDA the same terse advice he had earlier offered young
Musser with the Chamber: “Transparency.
We have to know what’s going on.”