By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
Attendance at Monday night’s regular July meeting of the Trenton City Commission was unusually good, bolstered partially by citizens showing up in support of the imperiled Dade County Library, but it was frankly not a meeting at which much remarkable was accomplished.
Mayor Anthony Emanuel began the work session, as has become his custom, with a line-by-line rehash of the city’s latest budget figures. June’s revenues were worse than any so far, he said, but actually the city’s net loss in June represented an improvement over the one in May. What it boiled down to, said Emanuel, was: “We continue to spend about $20,000 more than we’re bringing in.”
On the other hand, said Emanuel, things are looking up. “All is not gloom and doom,” he said. “The first six months have been a period of adjustment, and the third quarter will be likewise, but I think we’ll see the fruit of our trials and tribulations in the fourth quarter.”
He said he fully expected Trenton revenues and expenditures to be at break-even point by the end of the year.
Emanuel said that he’d begin meeting next week with each of the city commissioners and going over numbers in preparation for beginning the budget process for next year. He added that the city must operate a month or two with its new, slimmer payroll to see if its staffing cuts – two so far – would be enough to bring the numbers into check or if more heads must roll.
After the meeting Emanuel said that the two personnel casualties he was referring to were Better Hometown Manager Peter Cervelli, whose position was eliminated in April, and the younger Ted Rumley, son of the identically-named Dade County executive. Emanuel confirmed he had recently accepted the resignation of “Little” Ted Rumley from his job as a Trenton police officer.
The mayor did not announce any enforcement action this month on the city’s new eyesore ordinance, though he said the count of buildings in question was up to 32 now. “The buildings are either going to be brought up to code or they’re going to be demolished,” he said.
He also said some owners are already voluntarily beginning work on bringing their properties into compliance.
Emanuel said other projects still on the in-progress list are the new Trenton Civic Center usage agreement, which is being fine-tuned by the city attorney, and securing federal funds for the cleanup of Town Creek.
In his monthly report, Fire and Utility Commissioner Tommy Lawson said the state had just notified the sewer department its outflow would be tested for toxicity. “They usually do this once a year, they just don’t tell you when they’re going to do it,” said Lawson.
Mayor Emanuel asked him if the pricey revamp of the sewer system’s northern lift station, recently completed, had been a success, and Lawson said that yes, all was well.
Streets Commissioner Greg Houts said Trenton would begin on road paving projects when autumn brought cooler weather. Parks, Recreation and Animal Control Commissioner Chuck Cannon urged members of the public to call City Hall if they saw any rabid raccoons. “We need all of them reported,” he said.
Cannon did not elaborate on this subject.
Police Commissioner Sandra Gray, an emergency medical technician in her day job, had been called to duty a few minutes before the meeting and so did not attend. The mayor gave her routine report of calls answered and citations issued.
Eloise Gass reported for Trenton Tree City that the group had been planting monkey grass and irises to retard erosion at Jenkins Park. “We’ve been battling the water situation,” she said.
Dade County Public Library Marshana Sharp said that despite its vicissitudes the library is continuing its summer reading program into July, but it will close July 28 for the move into its newly renovated permanent building. A grand opening is planned for the expanded facility on Aug. 14, and Ms. Sharp said invitations would be issued closer to the date.
Donna Street also spoke for the library, saying that its Friends group would conduct tours of the renovated building in the coming weeks. “We want people to see what is there, what they’re going to miss out on using if we’re not allowed to do what we need to do,” she said.
As she had at the Dade County Commission meeting last week, Ms. Street went over the straw poll question concerning the library that is included on both Republican and Democratic ballots in the July 31 primary, urging citizens to vote yes (see related article).
During citizen participation, Anita Baxley also stood up to tell the commission the library was important. “The library is much more than a place where old ladies go to get books,” she said, reminding the commissioners how heavily used it was for Internet and fax purposes.
Ginnie Sams reported for the Trenton Arts Council that the group’s Artscapes project was well underway, with an installation by award-winning sculptor Denice Bizot soon to be unveiled somewhere on the town square. TAC and the city are still examining possible sites, said Ms. Sams. “We won’t divulge the final location until we get approval,” she said.
She urged anyone with a suitable location for art along Highway 11 or in town on Highway 136 to get in touch with City Hall, and also announced TAC was putting together a performance art CD to be given away as a gift to participants in the upcoming golf tournament of the local Optimists Club. The CD will include, among other attractions, poetry reading and bagpipe music.
Debbie Tinker of the Dade Chamber of Commerce said she’d been working with the Industrial Development Authority on enticing new industry into the area. She said the Appalachian Rustic Furniture building is for sale – the owners are returning the business to their home – and that she had also received calls about the building left vacant when Food Lion pulled out of town in January.
The city commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 13.