Trenton City Council discusses raising sewer rates

City of Trenton

The Trenton City Council has voted to resume advertising to seek applications for the vacant City Administrator’s position.  The advertisement will be placed through the Missouri Municipal League.  It was mentioned the advertising cost for a 30 day period is $40.00 to $45.00.

City Clerk Cindy Simpson is serving as Interim City Administrator following the retirement of Kerry Sampson at the end of April.  There are reported to be six to seven candidates for the City Administrator opening, with 2 to 3 of them having prior experience with in City Administrator positions.  No interviews have yet been conducted.  The City Council will conduct the interviews.

A request from Mayor Nick McHargue has been approved, to use a Street Department grader and operator for dirt work at the grandstand area of the fairgrounds.  Mayor McHargue will pay for the operator’s time during “non-street department hours”.  The dirt work is hoped to improve drainage, in preparation for a Gooseberry Festival tractor pull this summer.

The City Council has approved two nuisance-related ordinances.  One will give judges the option of requiring community service for people convicted of a nuisance violation instead of a fine.  The other says building materials not piled or stacked are to be considered a nuisance.  Both topics were forwarded to the full City Council by the Council’s Administrative Committee.

Mayor McHargue questioned “whether utility rate increases should be addressed now”, in order to avoid large increases occurring at once.  That would particularly apply to sewer rates, which has been an ongoing discussion for several months.  The sewer rates are expected to increase, to pay for improvements required by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  A doubling of rates has been mentioned in past discussions.  That occurred before ConAgra announced plans to close its Trenton plant in the early part of 2018.

Trenton Municipal Utilities (TMU) Director Chad Davis said that ConAgra provides about 20 percent of TMU’s overall revenue, including 60 percent of the revenue for waste water operations.  Davis explained most of the DNR requirements Trenton is facing involve the city-wide collection system.  Thus the expense is expected to remain, with the potential existing of less revenue from ConAgra to pay for it.

TMU has been negotiating with the DNR on a settlement regarding the waste water collection system issue.  TMU waste water, electric, and water rates are expected to be discussed by the City’s Council’s Utility Committee, which is comprised of the Chairman of the Council’s Administrative, Economic Development, and Finance Committee’s.  Larry Porter is Chairman of the Administrative Committee and Travis Elbert chairs the Economic Development Committee.  The Finance Committee has yet to chose its chairman.

On another topic, Davis gave an update on planning for water main replacements.

Davis also said the Missouri Public Energy Pool has voted to have solar farms in four to seven more cities.  That is in addition to the three solar farms in operation and three under construction.  One of three operating solar farms is located in Trenton.

The Economic Development Committee met on Monday night.  A brief recap was given, as Community Development Director Ralph Boots mentioned a facilitator would be sought to lead community stakeholders in discussion on short-term and long-term strategic planning.  Economic Development Committee Chairman Travis Elbert suggested looking at fiber-optic improvements to make Trenton more “internet friendly”, in order to promote business growth.  Councilman Scott Blair, another member of the Economic Development Committee, said he and Elbert would explore those internet possibilities.  Boots, on another topic, mentioned that businesses will be receiving another letter, said to be “more business friendly”, regarding efforts to prevent fires.  Boots indicated the city’s “willingness to work with the businesses on this matter”.

Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer Donnie Vandevender is asking property owners to make sure contractors doing work for them have a city-required occupational license.

Police Chief Tommy Wright said people with complaints about nuisances are asked to contact his department.  An update was given on the TPD’s Volunteer Trash program, being done along Trenton’s streets.  Financial partners are still being sought for signs recognizing those efforts.  Signs cost $28.00 each.

Mayor McHargue confirmed the resignation of Daniel Gott from the Trenton Park Board, due to duties with his new job as Trenton Middle School Principal.  The Park Board will be asked for suggestions on Gott’s replacement.