In a divided vote, the Trenton City Council has once more rejected curbside residential recycling. Glen Briggs’s motion to accept a bid from Hope Haven Industries of Chillicothe was defeated, with three in favor and five opposed. This outcome mirrors the five-to-three vote from last month when David Mlika’s motion was to discontinue curbside recycling. Voting for the recycling and the proposed new fee were Glen Briggs, Calvin Brown, and John Dolan. Those opposed were Marvin Humphreys, Tim Meinecke, David Mlika, Duane Urich, and Lou Fisher.
The council engaged in over 30 minutes of discussion, involving Hope Haven Manager Carole Hobbs, five Trenton citizens, and council members. Hope Haven had suggested a new fee in 2024 of $6 per month per home. This fee comprises $5 for Hope Haven and $1 for the city of Trenton to handle the billing, appearing as a line item on utility bills. That amounts to $60 per household annually, a figure Hobbs highlighted, averaging 1,942 households for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Hobbs mentioned that Trenton generates an average of three and a half tons of recycled products weekly, totaling 172 tons in the previous fiscal year. Hope Haven’s residential recycling in Trenton began in 2005 when the monthly cost was $2.18 per household, plus 25 cents for city processing. Over the past 18 years, the recycling fee has risen by only 74 cents per month to the current rate of $2.92 per household, plus a one-dollar processing fee.
Hope Haven provided additional information, indicating that approximately 18 percent of Trenton residents participate in recycling. Councilman Humphreys pointed out that this statistic implies that 82 percent of residents do not recycle, and many would argue they shouldn’t have to pay for a service they don’t use. He and Councilman Mlika inquired if a system could be established where only those who recycle pay the fee. However, both the Hope Haven manager and City Administrator Ron Urton expressed that this alternative would pose challenges due to staffing limitations.
Hobbs mentioned that Hope Haven employs ten Trenton residents with developmental disabilities, with a total staff of 39. When asked by Meinecke about the potential impact on Trenton employees if the recycling contract were lost, Hobbs assured that she wouldn’t let it affect those workers, though lost revenue would constrain Hope Haven’s operations. Meinecke observed that with rising trash collection fees, potential hikes in electric rates, and a possible economic development sales tax (pending voter approval), removing a recycling fee could alleviate some financial pressure on Trenton residents.
The recycling contract with Hope Haven is set to expire on December 31st. It seems city officials will pursue an offer made by the Rapid Removal owner at last month’s council meeting to establish a trailer for residents to deposit their recyclables at the transfer station in northern Trenton. The initial proposal stated that recyclables could be dropped off only during Rapid Removal’s business hours, a restriction some believe would inconvenience working individuals.
Following the Police Personnel Board’s recommendation, the council agreed to employ Laura Andal of Chillicothe as a police officer upon her completion of training at the law enforcement academy. Utility Committee Chairman Duane Urich announced that the electric rate study would be discussed at the November 13 council meeting. A decision on proposing an economic development sales tax as a ballot issue is also anticipated next month.
The council welcomed qualifications from attorneys interested in offering legal services to the city and/or prosecuting municipal court cases. The terms will specify that the council may request an attorney’s presence at certain meetings, either in person or via Zoom, as needed. Current City Attorney Tara Walker expressed a desire to focus more on her private practice. Walker disclosed that her compensation has been $1,625 per month for 13 hours, plus $16.25 per hour as city prosecutor, also for 13 hours a week. She has served as city attorney since 2008.
The council passed two ordinances. Anixter Power Solutions of Mattoon, Illinois, will receive $18,700 for three-phase field testing of electric lines to identify broken wires or other causes for a nine percent line loss. Smico Contracting Group of Odessa was chosen for river pump station enhancements at the water plant, a project costing nearly $184,000 ($183,912). Additionally, the council approved Harry Kately’s request for two, potentially three, handicapped parking spaces on East 10th Court adjacent to the Elks Lodge. Councilman Briggs and Mayor Jackie Soptic extended their gratitude to everyone involved in the Missouri Day Festival.