New Trenton City Council members sworn in; loan to cover costs at wastewater plant fails yet again

City of Trenton Website

In the last meeting before five city officials were sworn in, the Trenton City Council approved six of seven ordinances on the agenda.

After reports, Mayor Nick McHargue requested the agenda be re-arranged to allow the swearing in of the new Mayor and four council members before considering the ordinances. But his request died since no one on the council made a motion on adjusting the order of agenda items.

On a split vote, the council defeated a memorandum of understanding on the transfer of two million dollars within Trenton Municipal Utilities funds to finance the biggest portion of the sewer plant headworks project. The two million would have come out of the electric department reserves and transfer to the wastewater fund which in turn would pay it back.

The agreement stated that it was in the best interest of the City Council and Mayor to forgo borrowing money at current interest rates and make the two million dollar transfer. The electric fund would be repaid at an interest rate of one half of a percent per year over a period of 15-years resulting in what the city attorney calculated would be a savings of $770,322 for Trenton.

Councilman Travis Elbert, who’s been the Finance Committee chairman, stated he calculated the two million dollars, in invested at two and a half percent, would earn one point two million over 20-years. Councilman Brad Chumbley called it ridiculous to consider investing the reserve funds without considering another reduction in electric rates.

After discussion, the council three to five against the transfer of funds. In favor were Brad Chumbley, Dave Mlika, and Larry Crawford.

Opposed were Glen Briggs, Lou Fisher, Larry Porter, Travis Elbert, and Jenn Hottes. City Administrator/Utility Director Ron Urton said Burns and McDonnel is to be in Trenton Tuesday to share estimated costs for the headworks project. Some of the council indicated they wanted to know the cost before committing funds.

On a seven to one vote, approval was given to the Green Hills Animal Shelter contract regarding animals picked up within Trenton and housed at the shelter. Opposed was Councilman Lou Fisher. On another seven to one vote, the sidewalk code was amended removing snow and ice from property owners maintenance of their sidewalks. Brad Chumbley was opposed.

Strategy LLC of Olathe, Kansas was hired to do maintenance on city computers without the expense of an IT person on city staff at a monthly fee of $2,333. Ordinances were unanimously adopted regarding budgets and setting employee salaries for the city of Trenton and Trenton Municipal Utilities beginning May 1st.

The city of Trenton budget anticipates a $121,000 deficit for the one year period. The projected May 1st fund balance tops $1,555,000 which is $369,000 less than the balance the current year began with.

If the deficit is realized, then the projected fund balance for the city as next years’ April 30th, would top $1,434,000. Elbert explained $60,000 of the deficit is for a payment on the asphalt plant and $35,000 is for another worker to shadow building inspector/code enforcement Donnie Vandevender who’s retiring.

An overview of the Trenton Municipal Utilities budget anticipates net revenues of $1,935,205 after depreciation. Gross revenues for the one year period are expected to total $13,900,000. Expenditures are anticipated to be more than $10,379,000. Depreciation is listed at $1,575,000. TMU funds include electric, water, and sewer.

There’s a May 1st projection of having $11,620, 609 in unrestricted cash and investments. During the fiscal year, the unrestricted TMU cash and investments are expected to drop by some $2,700,000 to $8,906,209.

Certified results of last week’s election were accepted showing voters selected Linda Crooks as Mayor and a councilman from each of the four wards of Trenton who are

Glen Briggs, Danny Brewer, Cathie Smith, and John Dolan. Each was sworn in by the City Clerk.  The new Mayor re-appointed with council consent, Cindy Simpson as City Clerk, Tracy Maberry as Deputy City Clerk, and Sherry Betz as City Treasurer. The council then selected Larry Crawford as Mayor Pro Tem. Nick McHargue’s name was removed from the bank signature card and Linda Crooks was added. Appointments to council committees and liaison members to various boards were postponed.

The new council accepted the low bid from M&M Utilities of Chillicothe to rehab a sewer main under Normal Street and correct flow problems. Work is to be done before the city does an overlay project on Normal. With two alternates, the total cost is $595,800 with a total of two bids received.