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March 12, 2014     The Sun Newspaper
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March 12, 2014
 

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SMALLTOWN NEWSPAPERS X 217 W COTA ST SHELTON WA 98584 The U Trenton's Answer tothe New York Times I 5O Printed on recycled newsprint Volume 134, Number 38 Trenton, Illinois, Wee;. :,sd,:y, March 12, 2014 USPS 638-200 The Cracker Barrel The weather on Monday and Tuesday was enough to lift a person's spirits and gird his resolve to muddle through the final gasps of winter, one of which was ex- pected on Wednesday. Even that can't dampen our en- thusiasm for Spring, espe- cially this year... There was a car-school bus accident in Trenton last week, with some minor injuries, which serves as an unpleasant re- minder to exercise extreme care near schools when bus- es and students are moving... Even if you're not a partisan, voters in Trenton and New Baden have a reason to head to the polls Tuesday. There are sales tax propositions on the ballot in both communi- ties (see related story this page) to pay for infrastruc- ture improvements. You don't have to declare a party to vote on that issue. Just ask for a non-partisan ballot atthe .poll, Try to look in Pete Schumacher's good eye the next time you see him. He's got half the number of cataracts he used to have. He'll probably throw away his glasses once he gets the other one removed... Hope you remembered to set your clocks forward last weekend. If not, you're probably late. Sales tax propositions top next week's primary ballot There isn't a lot of sizzle on next Tuesday's primary election ballot, although there is some local in- trigue for western Clinton County voters. Propositions in New Baden and Trenton ask voters to approve in each community a quarter-per- cent addition to the sales tax rate, currently 6.5 percent in most of New Baden and 6.25 percent in Trenton. A portion of New Baden's retail community on the Route 161 corridor to Interstate 64 lies with- in a 'business district' and carries a 7.5 percent sales tax rate. The increase will amount to 25 cents on a $100 purchase. The sales tax increase, officially the Retailers' Occupation Tax and Service Occupation Tax, must be used for infrastructure improve- ments and/or property tax relief, according to state statute. Officials in both communities have laid out a series of specific projects they would like to com- plete with the additional revenue. Streets, sidewalks, and drainage concerns are major issues in both towns, and typically areas where municipal revenues don't meet needs. New Baden voters approved a similar tax in 2009. Municipal of- ficials can raise the sales tax up to a total of one percent, in quarter- percent increments, if voters ap- prove. If voters in either or both corn- Trenton has a drug problem, says mayor A discussion of a new city ordinance allowing for im- poundment of vehicles driven by persons arrested by Trenton police sparked a more wide-ranging monologue from Trenton mayor Kyle Jones on criminal and drug activity in the community. "Our police activity, our call volume, is significantly higher today than it was even two or three years ago," said Jones. "There's a major drug problem, and there are multiple cases involving agencies like the state po- lice:and the DEA (the federal Drug Enforcement Agen- - cy) that are ongoing. We've got a major meth (metham- phetamine) issue and a heroin issue. Our big issues are probably with cocaine and meth, and we're not talking about small operations." Jones said the problem cuts across demographic lines. "It's not always necessarily the people you would think," Jones said. "It's not just the young, but people in their fifties and sixties who are involved, because they are --see Drug Problem, page 3 Trenton council members debate vehicle impoundment ordinance Trenton's city council on Monday debated the adoption of a vehicle impoundment or- dinance that would allow the city to impose an administra- tive fee after arrests are made for a specified set of offenses. The ordinance would allow the city to impose an adminis- trative fee in cases where mo- torists are stopped, arrested, and transferred to the Trenton police station for booking. In those cases, a tow would be required to remove the vehi- cle from the public roadway. Trenton's police officer would arrange for the tow. There are two tiers to the fee system. The $400 admin- istrative fee would apply to offenses such as driving with revoked license, fleeing police, DUI, reckless driving, and ex- cessive speeding (31 miles per hour or more oyer the speed limit), along with serious criminal offenses. In cases where the owner of the vehicle in question is not the violator but has allowed the use of the vehicle, the ad- ministrative fee will be $250. If the car is stolen, the owner of record will not be respon- sible for paying the fee. If the arrestee is found not guilty or the case is not prosecuted, the administrative fee is refund- ed. Council member Dan Kohl- brecher objected to includ- ing moving violations in the ordinance. Kohlbrecher said Trenton had suffered from a reputation as a speed trap in the 1980s and that the percep- tion continues to follow the community. "I was at the open house for St. Joseph's Hospital in High- land a while back and I ran into a guy who used to do busi- ness with us," said Kohlbre- cher. "He got a speeding ticket in Trenton in 1980 and he told me when I saw him that he hasn't been back to Trenton since then." Council member Dan Rosen said, "If he won't come back because he got a speeding ticket, that's his own stupid- ity. He shouldn't have been speeding." Mayor Kyle Jones noted that the vehicle impoundment policy would not have affected a man who got a routine speed- ing ticket. "I'm just telling you we had a really bad reputation in the '80s," Kohlbrecher said. "The cops would have a contest to see who could write the most tickets." "This ordinance only ap- plies to violators who are ar- rested and bJ)ked," said city attorney Doug Gruenke. "The violator must be arrested and taken to the police station for booking." Gruenke also noted that if city council chooses to remove certain offenses from the ordinance it will create some legal exposure. "This ordinance, as it is written, is court-tested," he said. Jones said the ordinance is designed to protect the public safety and protect taxpayer re- sources. "If someone is driving drunk and is a menace to the public, why should we be pro- tecting that person?," Jones asked. "If they're being charged with DUI they aren't get- ting off free," Kohlbrecher re- sponded. "They're going to pay a couple thousand dollars in fines at least." Jones said he believes the general public would support such a law. "It's crazy to me to even have a discussion as to whether or not we should protect criminals who are us- ing our citizens' resources. State law says we can do this (assess administrative fees), a lot of other communities are already doing it, and our po- lice officers are spending time when they could be patroling and protecting the public ar- ranging for tows and writing reports. Some of these reports can take several days to com- plete." "I'm not saying anything against any of the (criminal) items on this list," Kohlbrech- er said. "I would have a prob- lem with moving violations." Jones said he will have the item on the council's April agenda for a vote. "I don't think our average, everyday residents will be affected by this at all." If the council approves the ordinance, it is likely to es- tablish administrative (non- court) adjudication procedures in conjunction with other in- terested communities in the area. An attorney, not a judge, oversees administrative adju- dication hearings. Trenton police chief Mike Jones estimated the police department averages about a half dozen instances per month when vehicle impound- ment would be relevant. munities reject the sales tax in- crease, there are options that skirt around voter opinion. Trenton and New Baden both have telecom- munications taxes in place, which could be increased without voter approval. Trenton already levies a tax against electric and gas utilities as well. New Baden does not, but the village has the statutory authority to enact such a tax without voter consent. Additionally, New Baden has room for property tax increases, since the village typically levies less in taxes than it pays for items like liability insurance, social se- curity, and pension funds. By levying higher amounts in those uncapped funds, the village could free up sales and income tax rev- enues to pay for infrastructure needs. Trenton has less room to maneu- ver its property tax revenues. The city typically levies at the maxi- mum rate in capped funds and to meet expenses with property taxes in uncapped funds. Officials in both communities have said they favor utilizing sales tax to enhance revenues because the impact is not as concentrated on local taxpayers and is shared instead by out-of-town consumers of local goods. The additional sales tax does not --see Primary, page 14 The community coordination committee of New Baden's village board will recommend that trustees turn over management and operations of the village swimming pool to YMCA of Southwest Illinois for the 2014 season. NB committee will recommend ceding management of swimming pool to YMCA New Baden's community coordination committee met Monday night with Will Welsh of YMCA of Southwest Illinois to ham- mer out the details of an agreement that could find the YMCA managing the village's swimming pool operations this summer. Following the negotia- tion of several items in the contract, committee mem- bers agreed to recommend adopting the agreement to the board of trustees when they meet on Monday, March 17 for a continua- tion of the board's regular meeting last week. The major sticking point for mayor Christy Picard and committee members was the lack of differen- tiation fees between resi- dential and non-residen- tial pass fees. "I really feel strongly that New Baden citizens deserve a break when compared to non-res- idents," Picard said. The YMCA plans to uti- lize internet purchase of passes, and Welsh said software limitations won't allow them to differentiate between the two pay struc- tures. There was some dis- cussion of the village re- bating a portion of the pass fees to residents, with the YMCA reimbursing them at the end of the season, although Welsh said his organization is having dif- ficulty gauging the level of participation between resi- dents and non-residents since he does not have ac- --see NB Pool, page 3 Progress WORKERS ARE MAKING STEADY PROGRESS on a sewer line extension from New Baden to Wesclin High School along Route 160. The sewer will serve the new Wesclin High School facil- ity, and is being completed under a cost-sharing arrangement between the village, the school district, and Illinois Capital Development Board funds. A companion project will extend water lines from New Baden to the new school along Clinton County Line Road. Wesclin is expected to get the keys to the new school sometime in July.