Trenton City Council approves $4.00 increase in base electric meter charge

City of Trenton Website

The Trenton City Council on Monday evening approved a $4.00 increase in the monthly cost for having an electric meter.

The increased funds are designed to pay off a loan the city has due to additional energy costs incurred during the extreme cold spell in February. The council also voted to reduce by three dollars the amount assessed for court costs in municipal court cases at Trenton.

On a voice vote of seven in favor and one opposed, the council established the base for an electric meter at $18.00 per customer. With the current rate at $14.00, the $4.00 increase goes into effect with TMU bills received in October. With nearly 3,000 meters in the city, the additional funds generate $12,000, which is the monthly amount TMU must pay to the Missouri Public Energy Pool for the increased electrical usage from six months ago.

The total energy cost incurred by Trenton for the 48 to 60 hours of extreme cold in February was $785,000. MoPEP is allowing those funds to be paid without interest at $12,000 per month for a five-year period.

Councilman Lance Otto made the motion to allow the $4.00 increase in the fixed or base meter fee. Besides Otto, others voting in favor were Kevin Klinginsmith, Danny Brewer, Marvin Humphreys, Robert Romesburg, Duane Urich, and John Dolan. Opposed was Dave Mlika. Mlika also voted two weeks ago against a proposed $7.00 increase in the base meter charge, which was defeated by a council vote of three to four.

It should be noted that the energy cost rate of ten cents per kilowatt-hour remains unchanged for TMU customers. There is no increase in the cost for electric usage.

In response to questions before the vote was taken, it was noted the unrestricted cash, also referred to as reserve funds, was about $4,000,000 within the electric department. Comptroller Rosetta Marsh said that’s the fund that pays for employee wages plus other expenses like energy costs, meters, poles, wire, and more. The TMU unrestricted cash in electrical has been reduced by a 5% reduction in user rates and the base fee in 2019, payment for a new transformer, and inflationary increases in expenses.

A letter is to be included with bills to explain the reason for the base fee increase.

Unanimous approval was given to a recommended reduction in fees assessed as court costs. City Attorney Tara Walker explained the $41.50 in court costs charged defendants included $3.00 for sheriffs, but she said the Missouri Supreme Court ruled a city court case assessing $3.00 for a county sheriff’s fund was unconstitutional. As a result, the city ordinance had to be adjusted to match the current law.

Municipal court costs for the city of Trenton cases will now total $38.50.

According to the ordinance, violations will include court costs of $15.00 assessed by the judge; $7.50 for the crime victim compensation fund, $4.00 as the domestic violence shelter surcharge; $3.00 for the police officer training fee; $7.00 for the court automation fee and a $2.00 surcharge for the Biometric Verification System.

A discussion was held on two portable restrooms used at community events. According to Administrator Ron Urton, they were bought in 2010 for $6,500 with $1,000 coming from the park board, fair board, and TDIA. During the years, the city has spent an estimated $3,600 on maintenance. Recent repairs by a city employee consumed 40 hours and $700 in costs.

Black Silo Winery has indicated an interest in purchasing the portable restrooms for community events held on their premises while making them available for the North Central Missouri Fair, park department, and downtown Trenton activities.

Duane Urich, a co-owner of Black Silo and Fourth Ward Trenton City Councilman, abstained from voting when a motion was made to have the city attorney draft a document for the council to review. It’s to offer the portable restrooms to Black Silo as long as the other three groups are still allowed to use them when needed. Urich said the portable restrooms would be stored indoors, thus out of the weather, and not subject to potential vandalism.

Councilman Robert Romesburg praised the quick response by park personnel to an issue involving a ladder at the swimming pool. That incident stemmed from a consumer complaint and Romesburg appreciated it was resolved to the consumer’s satisfaction.

In response to an asphalt plant question, Urton noted the Department of Transportation has been buying asphalt from another source which was described as $6.00 less per ton than what the Trenton plant charges. The city had bought additional rock in anticipation of MoDOT increasing its purchase of asphalt from Trenton. A contractor at the airport is preparing a raised site for seeding and mulching on what someday could be a location for a new hangar for small planes and one that’s less likely to flood.