Trenton City Council addresses employee raises, animal welfare committee and more at Monday meeting

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A variety of topics came to the Trenton City Council Monday night for a meeting that had to be moved due to lack of electricity at city hall while TMU spent much of Monday replacing a power pole at the parking lot and getting electricity back on. The council, as the Building and Nuisance Board did, met at the TMU warehouse.

Topics included the potential cost of living increases for employees; a grant application for police and fire equipment; an agreement for an engineering company to provide services on a TMU project; the formation of an animal welfare committee; placing an order for two backhoes; allowing vendors to set up one afternoon per month downtown; a request to financially support Main Street Trenton and the Trenton Downtown Improvement Association; the announcement of two solid waste collection events and heard more complaints about residential trash not being picked up on schedule.

The city council vowed to consider a one dollar an hour cost of living allowance for all employees if a certain revenue level is reached or if the six-month financial review indicates the city will achieve a balanced fiscal year budget. The “cola” is tied to the number of asphalt sales at the street department. Officials conservatively budgeted for 12,000 tons of asphalt to be sold which would generate $840,000. If by December, the city sells 21,000 tons of asphalt – $1,475,000 in revenue, then the council pledges to consider the cost of living increase.

The council-approved budget two weeks ago for the city fiscal year beginning May 1st has a projected deficit of $546,000. In effect, the $635,000 in additional sales of asphalt, if realized, would be enough to cover the one-year deficit in the budget. No raises were authorized for employees when the council adopted new budgets for the city and TMU.

City Administrator Ron Urton said it’s his intention the potential cost of living increase applies to all city and TMU workers including those on salary. But the final decision will be up to the city council halfway through the next fiscal year.

Also coming to the city council Monday night was a request for $10,000 to go to Main Street Trenton and the Trenton Downtown Improvement Association. That amount would be split between the city and TMU. Cathie Smith, on behalf of the two groups, said similar requests for $10,000 in funding will be presented to Grundy County Commission and North Central Missouri College. Mrs. Smith stated current funding is from memberships, events, grants, and interest money received on loans to businesses, but it’s not enough to cover the annual salary of a director and operating expenses.

When questioned, City Attorney Tara Walker said there would need to be an agreement for services rendered if funds were to be allocated to Main Street and the downtown association. Mayor Linda Crooks, via zoom, called it a good idea but with a deficit budget already, the council needs to think about its employees. The council voted last night to table the request and re-visit the issue.

The North Central Missouri Development Alliance. Its director, Scott Sharp, attended the council meeting to get input about having specialty vendors downtown for three or four hours one afternoon monthly from May through October, suggesting the third Thursday. The council decided on a $15 fee for vendors each time they participated. That’s the same rate charged to food truck vendors who can set up for three hours on a Wednesday.

While Sharp intends to start small, he could foresee potentially closing the 1000 block of Main to allow for safety. The council asked the city attorney to draft an amended ordinance that would allow for vendor setup and the fee. (Annual business licenses are $50)

In other activities, the council voted to proceed with ordering backhoes for the water and wastewater department and one for the street department to beat the anticipated April 1st price increase. $45,000 has been budgeted for each which is said to be just enough for the current cost of the new machines which would replace those that are 18 and 20 years old.

A required public hearing was held on Trenton’s application for USDA rural development money to cover a portion of the costs for communication radios in police cars and fire department air compressor to fill breathing tanks. Nearly $80,000 in federal funding is sought with the balance of the equipment costs paid by the city. The application is to be finalized and presented to the city council next month which would then authorize the Mayor to sign.

The council voted seven to nothing to approve the Howe Company engineering services for replacement, rehabilitation, and extension of sewer mains and Pleasant Plain lift station at Iowa Boulevard. The budgeted expenses are approximately $98,000. Construction costs of more than a million dollars would be spread over two fiscal years.

A draft ordinance for an animal welfare committee was accepted. It will have five members and one liaison member from the council as appointed by the Mayor. The city attorney noted this would be an advisory committee reporting to the council.

After discussion, the council requested three quotes on painting the former Trenton R-9 board building at the Trenton Municipal Airport, accepted an asbestos inspection bid from Red Rock of Kidder at $250 per residence plus lab fees; demolition bids are sought on nine houses;

The council granted permission for the Bluestone Environmental Group to obtain groundwater samples to confirm any presence or absence of volatile organic compounds at 1712 Harris Avenue. That was the location of the former Trenton grain storage that operated from the late 1950s to about 1972. The site currently is used by the city of Trenton Fire Department as a burn training center. Missouri DNR requested USDA to have a company obtain the groundwater samples with storage in 55-gallon drums.

City employee Brent Romesburg told the council his household trash was finally picked up Monday afternoon when the regular schedule indicates it should have been on Friday. He told of others on Pleasant Plain who were missed on the trash routes. City officials say the Rapid Removal promised letter to be included with TMU bills has still not been provided. The city attorney has plans to speak to Rapid Removal’s attorney.

The council authorized the North Missouri Solid Waste Management District to locate a 40-foot cargo container at the Trenton Street Department for use in two collections planned this year in Trenton. Solid Waste Management Planner Ann Hamilton told the council collections have not been held for the past two years due to COVID-19. Plans though are being made to have a household hazardous waste collection and another for appliances, electronics, tires, and batteries. Dates have not been set. As in the past, volunteers would be present to assist the public in disposing of eligible items. Previously, those items were collected at a 7th and Lake Street building.

Seven members of the Trenton city council attended in person or by zoom with Kevin Klinginsmith absent.

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John Anthony

John started working for KTTN Radio in the 1970s as a news reporter. He has been with the station for many years, and when Marvin Luehrs, then owner of KTTN, decided to retire John purchased the station. John is Married to Carol Anthony who also works for KTTN as the Traffic Director.

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