Trenton hopefuls spar over finances, alcohol

Trenton hopefuls spar over finances, alcohol

November 5th, 2011 by Andy Johns in News

Trenton Mayor Barton Harris

Tommy Lowery, Trenton Mayor Candidate and former Dade County Commission Chair

Photo by Andy Johns/Times Free Press.

Anthony Emanuel is the mayor of Trenton, Ga.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.


Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The three men vying to be mayor of Trenton, Ga., all say they have ideas and experience.

The campaign pits incumbent Mayor Barton Harris against former Mayor Anthony Emanuel and former Dade County Commission Chairman Tommy Lowery.

And while Trenton has weathered a carpet plant closure, recession and a devastating tornado, the candidates say voters keep bringing up city finances and alcohol.

"Right now they're essentially broke," Lowery said of the city.

Trenton officials recently had to shift money from a sewer fund to cover operating expenses while they and the county wait for federal reimbursement for the costs of the April 27 tornado cleanup.

Lowery said that, as mayor, he would trim spending to rebuild reserves.

"I think they've got to establish a realistic budget and live within that budget," he said. "That might mean some tough decisions have to be made on what we spend on what."

Emanuel said the loss of 400 jobs at the Shaw yarn plant three years ago took a major bite out of the local economy, which still hadn't recovered even before the April tornado. He pledged to cut spending rather than try to increase city revenue.

"The revenues have taken a major hit, and we've got to manage that," he said. "We're not going to increase taxes. We're going to decrease expenditures to bring them in line with our revenues."

Harris said he's been involved with the budget process the last few years and that the city "is running really lean right now." Employees have not gotten raises, and nearly every department has been forced to cut back.

"The city's doing all we can do keep taxes low and keep everybody under budget," Harris said.

He said the way to improve things is to find ways to keep residents' shopping dollars at home.

Lowery and Emanuel said voters also have spoken to them about city alcohol regulations.

In 2010, the City Council voted to allow restaurants to serve beer and wine, but Lowery said the people should have been able to decide.

"Trenton is a very God-fearing town," he said. "I think the people should have been allowed to vote on it."

Emanuel called the council's decision a mistake and pledged to do what he could to let residents decide if they want local restaurants to serve beer and wine.

Harris said alcohol is not really an issue in the race. He said he doesn't drink beer, but said the council is elected to make decisions that help the city.

"When it's time for the tough decisions to be made, I'm not afraid to make them," Harris said.