Trenton City Council Holds Lengthy Meeting
Date 2014/3/25 9:38:22 | Topic: News
|During last night's Trenton City Council meeting, Mayor Nick McHargue, continued to express concerns about the city's declining fund balance.|
Mayor McHargue even vetoed a Council vote to employ 2 persons full-time and 1 part-time as police officers to fill vacancies.
Dr. McHargue indicated he'll veto Council votes to hire anyone until city budget concerns are fixed. However, the police officers will be employed since the Council overrode the mayor's veto.
The Council approved a North Central Missouri Fair Board request to allow beer to be sold in the grandstand area during and the weekend before this year's fair. The vote was 5 in favor, 2 opposed, and 1 absent.
The council also approved bids for the City to purchase a trailer, an individual to mow city owned lots, persons to purchase City owned properties, and an individual to use the grounds at the airport and the trap/skeet range area for hay.
Employed as police officers were Tim Munday of Chillicothe and Matthew Preston of the state of Minnesota for the full time positions, and Ethan Wyant of Grundy County to work part time. Munday, who's a minister, has worked in the past for the Trenton police department and the Grundy County sheriff's office.
The vote to hire those 3 persons was 6 in favor, Mark Robinson opposed, and Larry Huffstutter absent. It's unknown whether the 2 currently residing outside Grundy County will relocate within the county. Officers are required to reside within a 30 minute commute. Robinson indicated he voted no because he wants to have residents of Trenton or elsewhere in Grundy County. Robinson did join the other 6 Councilmen at the meeting in overriding mayor McHargue's veto of hiring those persons. The Mayor cited the City's budget situation for his veto.
During the discussion regarding Police Department staffing, Chief Tommy Wright said officers currently are working 12 hour shifts.
When Mayor McHargue again mentioned the City of Trenton's declining fund balance, Councilman Chuck Elliott said he does not favor reductions in the Police and Fire Departments.
The budget situation first came up much earlier in the meeting when Dyle Wilson of the Airport Advisory Board reviewed a board meeting earlier this month. Wilson said a credit card machine costing $14,000 was requested to be placed in the city budget. Wilson also mentioned proposed increases in hangar rent.
Councilman Travis Elbert, who's a member of the Finance Committee, said the credit card machine is in the City budget for the upcoming year.
City Administrator, Kerry Sampson. said higher rent for hangar space was proposed to help recover costs at the airport.
Mayor McHargue, in the past, has expressed concerns about money being spent at the airport. Dr. McHargue noted the Lifeflight medical helicopter based there is a benefit to Trenton residents, but otherwise taxpayers are paying for facilities generally used only by a small number of persons involved in flying.
Dr. McHargue said the City's fund balance has dropped around $390,000 in recent years, despite transfers from Trenton Municipal Utilities to the City, and the City no longer paying street light costs to TMU. He said those 2 things are estimated to total around $500,000 during a 2 year period---the current fiscal year and the one beginning May 1st.
Mayor McHargue said he's seeking a budget which cash flows. Dr. McHargue, who's a pilot, also voiced support for raising hangar rents.
The Council received opposition from some pilots to the amount of the proposed rental increase and complaints about the condition of the hangars. However, the pilots expressed an understanding for having at least some increase in the rent. Eventually, Councilman Jacob Black asked the 3 pilots who spoke whether they would be willing to pay for improvements to the hangars as a part of leasing them. Black said that method would not be as much skin off taxpayers' backs. Pilot support was given for that concept. It's expected to be discussed further by the Trenton Airport Advisory Committee.
Trenton Board of Public Works last week approved, and sent to the City Council, a budget that includes a 3% increase in funds to each department for salary increases. The amount of increase each individual employee would receive would be determined by
TMU Director, Chad Davis, during last night's City Council meeting, said 3% raises would have a $54,000 impact.
Davis was questioned by the City Council about how much debt TMU has. After some figuring, it was determined the debt is $17.3 million. That's more than the gross revenues in the operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year---which total $14.1 million.
Trenton Parks Superintendent, Jason Shuler, said a balanced budget has been prepared for consideration by the Park Board. When asked what raise Park Department employees would receive, Shuler said no recommendation has been given yet by the Park Board. He indicated the Board was waiting for information on what the City and Trenton Municipal Utilities do regarding wages.
The City Council's Finance Committee has held several workshops to develop a City budget for the fiscal year beginning May 1st. That process continues with yet another workshop tonight at 5:30 at City Hall. The City has not yet announced what it plans to do regarding possible employee raises. It was mentioned the Committee had reached a balanced budget. However, it later was learned the City and TMU faces a 3 1/2% tax related to health insurance as part of Obamacare. That could mean $12,000 to $24,000. A clarification is to be sought.
That brought more remarks from Mayor McHargue regarding declining City funds. He said there may have to be real cuts and changes if this is to stay afloat. He indicated
the fund balance has dropped below $500,000.
In action items, the City Council voted to suspended an open container ordinance. It came after the North Central Missouri Fair Board asked the Council to allow beer to be sold at grandstand attractions during and just before this year's fair. The Council vote was 5 in favor, Councilmen Kenneth Ewing and Jim Bush opposed, and Larry Huffstutter absent. Since the ordinance does not allow a suspension of more than 3 days, the Council approved 3 different time periods---July 25th and 26th; July 29th, 30th, and 31st; and August 1st and 2nd. The Fair is July 29th through August 2nd.
Fair Board President, Rick Hull, mentioned a desire to expand the fair activities to the weekend prior to the traditional start of the Fair. Beer sales were allowed at the Fair last year. Hull quoted Police Chief Tommy Wright as saying there were no incidents. Hull also talked about increased crowds and profits at last year's fair---and an increase in the Fair Board's bank account. He said the fair had a $16,000 profit last year, and the
Fair board's bank account was increased to $40,000.
Hull noted the grandstand shows pay for other activities at the Fair. Hull mentioned a $1,500 expenditure for for the grounds. He also told about desire to help the Park Board with renovations at the Rock Barn.
Part of the success of last year's fair was attributed to good weather conditions.
Police Chief Tommy Wright said there were no arrests, warnings, or citations attributed to beer at the grandstands last year.
Councilman Kenneth Ewing said he opposes the beer sales on moral grounds. He said it's a mistake, it's sad to depend on alcohol, and he does not want alcohol in the Parks---even if it causes the fair to go out.
Councilman Jim Bush said people have told him they're against the beer sales (at the Fair).
Bush and Ewing were the only 2 persons speaking in opposition to the beer sales at the grandstands.
Councilman Mark Robinson requested something be done so the Fair Board does not have to make an annual request. Mayor McHargue suggested that's something that could be worked out later.
Park Superintendent Shuler complimented and thanked the Fair Board for cleaning up the fairgrounds after last year's fair. He also called the event very organized.
The City Council approved a bid from Woodworth Manufacturing near Chillicothe to sell a trailer to the City. The bid of $13,400 was the lowest of 2 received. The trailer is to be used to haul a street paver.
Bill Zang of Trenton was approved for use of the grounds at the airport and the area of the trap/skeet range for hay. Zang is to pay $12.26 cents a bale. That's the highest bid of 3 received.
3 persons were approved to purchase City owned properties. Daniel Matthews bid $350 for 408 East 12th Street. Jeremy Savage bid nearly $208 for 1715 Carnes. Brent Applegate bid $200 for 2504 North Main. All of those persons were the only bidders. They're neighbors to those locations.
All of those bids were unanimously approved by the 7 councilmen at the meeting.
The Council, by of vote of 6 in favor and Kenneth Ewing abstaining, approved the only bid received for mowing City owned properties. Ewing Lawn Care of Trenton is to receive---per mowing----$20 at 303 East 26th Street, $10 each at Northeast 27th and Mable, and the southwest corner of 27th and Lulu, and $5 for 17th Street between Lulu and Mable. The City Cemetery is to be mowed a total of 3 times—before Memorial Day, before July 4th, and before Labor Day, for a total charge of $300.
In other notes, Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer, Donnie Vandevender, said a contractor for demolition projects is to take down 6 structures during a 30 to 60 day period. The work started yesterday.
Trenton Mayor McHargue again encouraged the public to sweep sand from City streets. He suggested it be thrown in holes in their yards. Street Superintendent, Larry Griffin, said the City street sweeper would begin sweeping streets next Monday.
Fire Chief, Richard Morris, said it's not dry enough to issue a burn ban in the City. Mayor McHargue said the public should watch any fire they set.
Police Chief, Tommy Wright, thanked the Fire Department for playing the Police Department in a fundraising basketball game. More than $2,000 was raised for the American Cancer Society.
Mayor McHargue thanked the Trenton Rotary Club for sponsoring a youth talent show. He said those types of things are needed to keep the community running.