Contentious loan to cover wastewater project tops discussion of Trenton City Council

City of Trenton Website

The Trenton City Council last night took no action on a proposal to transfer two million dollars from one TMU fund to another. Members postponed the Green Hills Animal Shelter contract requesting some additional language.

At the beginning of the meeting, a long-time member of the former Board of Public Works, Phil Hoffman, addressed the Mayor and council of the proposed loan from the electric fund to the wastewater fund to help finance the headworks project. Hoffman made several points: one of which is that the electric department reserves were created by the payers of TMU electric rates and does not include the KCP&L customers in Trenton, however, all of the citizens are customers of water and wastewater.

To reduce electric fund reserves, if that is a goal, Hoffman said dividends could be issued to customers of TMU electric. Hoffman further suggested keeping a large enough reserve in the electric department in case the demand charges go up for the city’s purchase of power, something he noted the city can not control. He also spoke of the need to have money to replace the aging, main transformers at the sub-stations.

Later in the meeting, City Attorney Tara Walker presented a draft memorandum of understanding as it was titled, regarding the possible transfer of two million dollars from the electric fund to wastewater. The proposal requested a payback to the electric fund at one half of a percent interest for 15 years. The city council, in a previous meeting, had requested the city attorney draft a document for review, but Attorney Walker admitted the draft still needed more work.

With the assistance of the city council and TMU officials, the revised draft also is to have more specifics including an amortization schedule, the calculated re-assignment of sewer system funds when 2007 sanitation bonds are paid off in another ten years, as well as reasoning to make the transfer. Part of that would be to save ratepayers interest money and finance fees by doing an intra-departmental loan instead of a conventional bank loan.

Mayor Nick McHargue last night stated the savings would amount to one point three million dollars over the length of the loan. He also stated KCP&L has just three percent of the electric customers within the city, which he described as a non-factor.

Councilman Brad Chumbley urged the council members to break the cycle of borrowing money, and fund projects ourselves if feasible to do so. Councilman Glen Briggs quoted a Missouri Municipal League representative as saying the transfer between TMU departments is a bad idea, noting the risk is not worth the reward.

Councilman Travis Elbert said the biggest impact of council actions on TMU rates affects the electric department. Again, no action was taken by the city council.

The city council adopted an ordinance officially accepting a fire training tower with American Fire Training Systems of Lockport, Illinois. The revised, cost including a performance bond and insurance is $743,823.

A $40,000 bid was accepted from T and R Electric for three pole mount transformers and one pad mount transformer for TMU.

At the request of Councilman Travis Elbert, the city council requested a resolution of support to present to Missouri legislators regarding a bill that allows a local use tax on internet purchases from companies that are from out of state.

The council voted to remove the reference in city code for owners or occupants being required to remove snow and ice from sidewalks. It’s noted the city of Trenton will continue with snow removal on the sidewalks that it maintains.

With a recommendation from the Mayor and confirmed by the council, Verna Kelsey was re-appointed to serve on the Police Personnel Board.

With a room full of supporters for the Green Hills Animal Shelter, the city council reviewed a one-year agreement regarding the care of animals found within Trenton. Councilman Larry Crawford suggested the agreement also reflect a need for city residents to obtain a pet license. To that extent, City Hall is to provide the animal shelter with a list of people who’ve already bought an animal license. The shelter is to require individuals residing within the city of Trenton and adopting or claiming an animal to obtain the pet license. The current fee, as set by the city, is five dollars per licensed animal. Just 90 of the licenses were sold in the past year.

With that in mind, the city council tabled the animal shelter ordinance last night. The agreement covers a one year period beginning May 1st and includes compensation by the city of $18.00 per day, maximum of five days, on animals picked up in town and expenses not to exceed $20.00 dollars per animal for minor health care concerns.