Residential sewer rates in Trenton to increase by 30% beginning in December

City of Trenton

Residential sewer rates in Trenton currently are lower than in many area communities.

Rates in Trenton will be going up significantly in connection with Missouri Department of Natural Resources requirements. The rate increase will also be used to maintain enough revenue to meet minimum debt service requirements from previous borrowing that was used for past Trenton Municipal Utility projects.

The city council last night approved a plan that calls for a 30% increase in sewer rates beginning with this December’s usage, which shows up in bills received in January. The plan also calls for another 30% increase in 2018, a 26% increase in 2019, and then 2% to 3% increases in 2020 through 2029.

However, the council vote called for a re-evaluation of the plan in 18 months, therefore, the 30% percent increase beginning with this December’s usage, and the 30% increase for 2018 are planned, but those after 2018 could be changed.

The rate increases are to be applied to all customer classes.

The vote was unanimous among the seven council members attending. Jennifer Hottes was absent.

The monthly residential sewer bill for a Trenton customer with an average volume of five thousand gallons a month currently is $30.70. The rate increases to $39.91 beginning with this December’s usage and $51.88 cents in 2018. The $51.58 still is less than what customers at Bethany, Coffey, and Brookfield currently pay, and near the charge at Unionville.

Trenton’s settlement agreement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources includes provisions to eliminate sewage bypassing the waste water treatment plant during wet weather events, and to implement disinfection at the wastewater treatment plant.

Trenton has been working with the engineering firm Burns and McDonnell to develop a plan to meet provisions of the settlement agreement.

As part of the settlement agreement, a bypass elimination plan must be submitted to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources by November 1st.

Needs identified for Trenton’s wastewater treatment and collection system far exceed what’s considered affordable by government standards, whether or not ConAgra closes or stays. So time extensions or modification of requirements are expected to be sought.

ConAgra typically represents over 55% of TMU’s wastewater revenues in a given year.

The Burns and McDonnel report says the loss of ConAgra would have a substantial impact on the revenue stream for Trenton Municipal Utilities. That means a greater burden for other customers. The plan and rates approved by the city council last night assume no ConAgra plant after 2018, and no additional borrowing for TMU.

Among discussion at last evening’s city council meeting, Burns and McDonnell engineer Jeff Barnard indicated Trenton is among the last cities in the state to address disinfection requirements. He also said there is a lot of deterioration in the 100 year old sewer collection system, the pipe system is very leaky, and there are a lot of Manhole needs.

After the meeting, Barnard presented a summary to KTTN’s Dave Counsell about a need to eliminate wastewater from bypassing the sewer treatment plant, the need to implement disinfection requirements, and financial aspects.