City Declines Extending Sewer to Former Candidate's Home

February 13, 2020

Pat Bell shows the Trenton City Commission plans for expanding sewer service to his home. The commission said no.


At the Trenton City Commission February meeting Monday evening, Trenton Fire/Utility Commissioner Lucretia Houts nixed the sewer extension request of a man whose wife had run for the commission seat Ms. Houts won in November.


Realtor Careyee Bell filed qualifying papers in August to run for the Trenton elected office against Ms. Houts, the former city clerk, and a third candidate, Cody Doyle, in the 2019 municipal election. At the city commission's October meeting, Mayor Alex Case brought up the matter of two unnamed households in the Lake Hills area requesting to be annexed by the city.


As usual in Trenton city elections, there was little visible campaigning on the part of any of the candidates. Ms. Houts attended every city meeting but did not put up election signs. Cody Doyle put up election signs and attended some  meetings. Ms. Bell did neither. The election was in November. Ms. Houts got more votes than the other two candidates combined.


Then Patrick Bell, Careyee Bell's husband, attended the city January meeting to ask about the status of his annexation request, explaining he wanted to tie into the city sewage system. A septic tank wouldn't perk at the couple's Memorial Drive home and he was paying to have waste pumped and removed periodically. He got no answer then and returned this week to the Feb. 10. This time, Utility/Fire Commissioner Houts gave him a firm ix-nay.


“All I’ve heard for the past six or eight months is how bad the sewers are," she said. "There are a lot of things in the city that need to be taken care of...I just can’t see doing that.”


Sorry, Ms. Houts, told Bell, but: "It’s just one house." (As for the other household mention by Mayor Case in October as wishing to be annexed, so far there has been no second mention of that). 


Patrick Bell, listed on his wife's candidacy announcement as "employed by Brown Brothers Construction, where he is a superintendent for installation of water, sewer and site preparation," had offered to help with the materials cost and split with the city the cost of labor in the expansion as well as that of a pump, which he told the commission could be used by other households that might want to tie into the city sewer in the future. 


"My thought was to help the community,” said Bell. He said he would proceed with building a private system, which he said would not set him back much more than sharing the city's expansion costs. "It’s not going to be that much difference, but it will be for my house only and no future use at all,” said Bell.


As for the Bells' annexation, Mayor Case said that was an ongoing process and would eventually require a public hearing.


That episode was about the only morsel of drama to be sucked from the Feb. 10 meeting, which was badly attended even by commissioners---Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten was out with flu, Police Commissioner Kirk Forshee with a family emergency.   


For SPLOST (special purchase local option sales tax) expenditures, the city commission approved $5798.32 for fire hall equipment, $7142.70 for police car equipment and $4,527 for a computer server. It agreed to surplus an older police car and donate it to the county emergency services department, of which Mayor Case is director as his day job. 


Accepting a suggestion from City Clerk Russanna Jenkins, the city opted to halve its auditing fee by switching accounting firms to one that charged $16,000 rather than the $32,000 Trenton has been paying in the past. The commission also agreed to support local legislation that would allow local governments access to low-interest loans for infrastructure and to consider an administrative measure that would allow city department heads more input to the budgeting process.


Commissioner Houts reported that the fire department had received 45 more smoke detectors and citizens should get in touch with the city or their local volunteer fire department about having one installed free of charge. Mayor Case added that the offer is good for both city and county residents--the alarms are furnished through an American Red Cross grant.


Parks and Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell reported the Trenton Civic Center had been rented 135 hours in January and thanked Ann Brown and the Tri-State Humane Society for helping with the city animall control  problem. 


The other commissioners were not present to report.


William Back of the Dade Industrial Development Authority told the city commission about the new “Alliance for Dade,” which was created to replace the Dade Chamber of Commerce. The chamber had disintegrated, he said, but its visitor center was still active--sort of. It averaged about 1.5 visitors a day, said Back. His solution: Better signs, said Back, who has preached the same gospel in his Scenic Dade Development group and to the IDA.   


Photo: A 2017 Scenic Dade development display from a city commission meeting. 


The city funded the C of C from its hotel/motel tax but stopped when the chamber board of directors stopped meeting and let its nonprofit corporate status elapse.


None of the other city-funded organizations reported this month--again, the city meeting was worse attended even than usual.


The city commission meets at 6 p.m. the second Monday of each month at City Hall. 

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