Although there was considerable discussion involving the finance committee and city of Trenton officials, no apparent changes were made last night in the proposed budgets for the city and TMU for the fiscal year beginning May 1.
This meeting occurred after the city council, on a split vote, April 10, upheld the Mayor’s veto of the budgets that initially received council approval at the March 27 meeting.
The meeting began with Travis Elbert being elected chairman of the finance committee. The two newest councilmen – Larry Crawford and Glen Briggs – asked questions about specific line items in the city of Trenton budget. The transfer of $235,000 from the road use fund balanced the next fiscal year budget. That’s money received by Trenton from the state for gas taxes and vehicle sales tax.
There was a discussion on the $35,700 budgeted for memberships, conferences, and travel. City Clerk Cindy Simpson noted some of them must be attended to remain in compliance with requirements of the city’s insurance provider.
Then the discussion moved to the city and TMU providing $40,000 total toward a new economic development group – a figure that was matched by Grundy County.
Councilman Brad Chumbley, a new member of the finance committee, wanted only $20,000 given to economic development; with the other $20,000 being added to the city funds for tearing down old, dilapidated houses in Trenton. Mayor Nick McHargue stated he wanted all $40,000 removed from economic development.
The North Central Missouri Development Alliance is being formed with several community representatives to begin serving on that board under the guidance of Ralph Boots. Startup funds include those provided by the county, city of Trenton, TMU, and other stakeholders and businesses. Councilman Travis Elbert called it a good city-county partnership as they and others work toward a common goal.
Chumbley said he felt the city should have some involvement with economic development but felt the money would be better spent on tearing down old houses and it will make the community look better sooner. Elbert said he hoped both could be done, $40,000 to economic development and $20,000 more for demolitions.
Briggs, who attended the meeting but is not on the finance committee, said it appears to him that cutting economic development funding in order to tear down more old houses, sends the wrong message to business and industry prospects.
Mayor Nick McHargue repeated his belief that a hard surface or paved road was promised to Rapid Removal and MC Power solar farm in north Trenton, although he admitted there appears to be no documentation to that extent. Elbert suggested $30,000 in tipping fees could go into a fund to someday, have a new road.
Since the discussion focused only on the city of Trenton budget, Chumbley made a motion, which received a second, for the city to allocate only $10,000 to economic development. But when it came to the vote, Chumbley was the only member voting in favor. Remaining silent were three other finance committee members: Larry Crawford, Larry Porter, and Travis Elbert. In effect, that keeps $20,000 from the new city budget to go to economic development.
The discussion then moved to the municipal utilities proposed budget with questions asked on specific line items including the annual one percent transfer fee from TMU to the city, the utility rate increases, and employee overtime. No vote was taken about adjusting the TMU budget – therefore leaving TMU to commit its $20,000 share toward economic development.
Earlier in the meeting, finance committee chairman Travis Elbert cited figures that indicate the city of Trenton’s fund balance by the end of the current fiscal year, April 30, will reach $1,400,000. Elbert noted expenses are going to be five percent less than what the city had projected, meaning $160,000 under budget. And he said revenues are eight percent more than anticipated, meaning $232,000 over budget. That’s a $392,000 improvement during the one year period. Before the conclusion of the meeting, Elbert was asked to repeat those figures.
Councilman Brad Chumbley made a motion to “earmark three percent raises” for city and TMU employees in the following budget year – fiscal 2018-19. That motion passed four to nothing with the committee. No raises are given in the proposed 2017-18 budgets. Mayor Nick McHargue said employees had not been evaluated on their job performance causing some councilmen to say evaluations should be done, then raises considered.