Trenton mayor opposes hiring city administrator, because of unsettled ConAgra situation

Trenton, Missouri

Trenton Mayor Nick McHargue has voiced opposition to hiring a City Administator while the city’s future financial future is unclear because of the ConAgra plant situation.  ConAgra has announced its intentions to close its Trenton facility in the early part of 2018 Mayor McHargue said, until the Harris Avenue matter is resolved, he would be opposed to paying a very big salary for a City Administrator, adding that “he would be negative” amount hiring somebody.  The Mayor repeated, until he sees more about Harris Avenue, he will be a “no” vote, that means a veto of any Council action to hire an administrator.  However, such a veto could be over-riden by the City Council.

The City Council, earlier this month, voted to resume advertising to seek applications for the vacant City Administrator job.  The city received seven applications for the position the first time it sought them.  NO interviews were conducted.  One of the seven has been the only applicant since the city resumed its advertising.

Councilman Travis Elbert asked Community Development Director Ralph Boots how business prospects for the city are affect if there is no City Administrator.  Boots indicated it is not a large impact at this point.  Trenton City Clerk Cindy Simpson is serving as the Interim City Administrator, in addition to her regular duties, following the April 30th retirement of Kerry Sampson.  

Boots spoke about efforts by community stakeholders to develop a strategic plan to retain and attract businesses, promote entrepreneurship, and for community development and quality of life improvements.  Boots indicated Trenton is getting a lot of attention, but he can not share everything that is going on.  He is requesting patience from the community as attempts are being made to move forward.

On another topic, Boots has met with Eastgate Shopping Center’s new Property Manager, who is attempting to fill the empty store spaces.  Boots are spoke about services of the North Central Business Facilitation group, and Boots is requesting to be contacted about commercial property for sale, in order for it to be promoted.

The Trenton City Council approved an ordinance authorizing an agreement Burns and McDonnell, an engineering company, for water tower and fuel storage tank maintenance.  Part of the fuel storage study will determine whether existing fuel tanks should be rehabbed, or replaced with new ones. The City Council vote was six in favor, one (Brad Chumbley) opposed, and one (Jennifer Hottes) absent.  The charge for the engineering services is not to exceed $91,000.

The Council approved budget adjustments for the fiscal year that ended on April 30th.  Bids for a roller for the Street Department were rejected, with those bids to be sought again.  Fire Chief Rick Morris spoke about the need for the 32-year old ladder truck to be examined by a hydraulic technician for more repairs.  The Fire Department will be “looking for the best deal” as it pertains to eventual vehicle replacement.  Councilman Sccott Balir mentioned the aging truck shows the importance of votes approving a city sales tax for Fire Department equipment and training.

Trenton Police Chief Tommy Wright discussed an alcohol and drug abuse summit.  Community input will be sought in that area.  Chief Wright’s department has filed 100 nuisance violation reports thus far in 2016, reported to be double the number from one year ago.  Twenty-two to 23 streets have thus far been adopted for trash clean-up efforts by citizens.  About 200 pounds of trash have been collected, and donations continue to be accepted for signs posted along the streets adopted for clean-up.

Mayor McHargue made another request for Trenton residents to do clean-up work at their properties, with Councilman Mark Moore and Code Enforcement Officer Donnie Vandevender reiterating that property owners are responsible for ditch mowing.  City Clerk Cindy Simpson reports the city has six employees on salary directly effected by the new federal rule requiring overtime pay.  That is the rule that takes effect in December.  The matter will be referred to a City Council committee.

Trenton Municipal Utilities Director Chad Davis spoke about Broadband possibilities.  Boots noted they could be a big economic boost for Trenton if they are developed.  Ed Johnston of the Trenton Chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association attended Monday night’s meeting and shared plans to provide music on Independence Day, prior to the city’s annual fireworks display.  Johnston’s group is called the “Lite Riders”. They are raising money for “Run for the Son”, a project of the Christian Motorcycle Association to get out the message of the gospel.  People wishing to provide financial assistance are requested to contact Ed Johnston.  Diane Lowrey, part of a local committee charged with fundraising for the fireworks display, challenged the City Council members to donate a month of their pay for the fireworks.

The law firm Andereck, Evans, Widger, Johnson, and Lewis provides legal services for the city.  Tara Walker, who attends most council meetings as Trenton City Attorney, introduced Jeff Bloom as a new employee of the firm.  Bloom and his wife have two children (ages 7 and 9).  Bloom is from Lincoln, Nebraska, having grown up in the Omaha area.

The Trenton City Council also met in closed session for real estate and personnel matters.

The Trenton Building and Nuisance Board has voted to hold public hearings regarding properties at 1105 Wiggins, 1110 Rural, 2211 Oak, and at 1101 and 1115 Shanklin.  The 1105 Wiggins property is also on a list where bids will be sought for demolition, if funds are available.  The 1110 Rural and 2211 Oak properties are going through the process of dealing with declared nuisances again, after changes of owners.  A property at 1005 West Crowder is undergoing an ownership change, so the Board took no action concerning that location on Monday night.  It had been up for consideration for sending it to a public hearing.

Public hearings, on Monday night, were held regarding 103 East 10th Street, 802 East 24th Street, 843 West 14th Court, 1109 East 12th Street, 1314 Norton, and 1922 Oak.  All of them were moved to the next step, called “Findings of Fact”.  The 103 East 10th Street property is the former American Legion building.  Scott Weldon, who owns an adjacent structure, told the board he purchased the former American Legion building for $1.00, with the intention of tearing it down for community-minded green space.  However, those plans were delayed when money from a past state Community Development Block Grant program for demolition work was not available.  Weldon has been paying taxes on the property, which needs repairs if it is not torn down.  Weldon is seeking to have the property put on a list in which the city shares a portion of the demolition costs with the property owner.  In the past, Trenton has received two Community Development Block Grants for demolition work and does not anticipate being eligible for another anytime soon because those grants also are being allocated to other Missouri communities.  Trenton budgets $20,000 annually for demolition projects.  The city has a program in which it pays half (or up to $1,750) to help property owners with demolition costs.  The estimated cost to tear down the former American Legion building is estimated somewhere in the $20,000 range.  Building and Nuisance Board Chairman Stan Lowrey said he would be glad to work with Weldon as much as the board can.  Lowrey recommended that Weldon have the property re-appraised since Lowrey thinks the property “should have negative value”.  Lowrey and Vandevender also told Weldon he needs to shore up the back of the structure. The owner of the 843 West 14th Court property, Bryan Babb, expressed a desire to have the property put on the list for the city and property owner to share the demolition costs.  It is on that list should funds become available.  The owner of the 1922 Oak property, Benjamin Williams said he is “attempting to make improvements, with limited funds”.  Robert Ellis, the owner of the 1109 East 12th Street property, was unable to attend the public hearing. Vandevender reported that Ellis plans to repair a hole in the roof, and he has worked on vegetation concerns.  Properties at 402 West 12th Street, 1109 Merrill, and 1323 Merrill should have a “certificate of a dangerous building” filed on them.  That certificate has already been filed at 507 Main Street, and 1904 Lulu.  The board approved a list of properties for bids to be sought for demolition.  The Board will then determine which structures to demolish, based on available funds.

 

 

Red Rock, the current contractor for Trenton’s demolition projects, is expected to resume that work this week, including cleaning up debris at 1308 Norton, the location of a 2015 fire that claimed the lives of four children.  The various demolition projects across Trenton have been approved by the City Council (in November 2015).  However, asbestos checks and abatement were required, and the contractor also had projects in other communities.  

Chief Tommy Wright told the Building and Nuisance Board that the Police Department has filed 100 nuisance violation reports this year, 49 involving grass and weeds, 37 trash and debris, 13 involve vehicles, and one listed a public health/building.  There have been 53 abatements, 11 citations, and 47 are pending re-inspection or in progress.  Chief Wright repeated his off-stated message that “it is about changing culture, which is not going to happen overnight, but things are moving in the right direction”.