Trenton City Council approves third-party company to handle billing and mailing of TMU services

City of Trenton Website

While all eight agenda items were eventually approved, several were decided by split votes last night of the eight-member Trenton City Council.

By the end of this year, Trenton Municipal Utilities will have transitioned to having an Olathe, Kansas company provide the billing and mailing services. The change is seen by TMU officials as saving money on such costs while the office staff is reduced by one full-time employee through attrition. That employee it was reported is to be retiring early next year. On a vote of seven in favor and one opposed, the council accepted the low bid from Peregrine Services Incorporated.

Five companies submitted bids as TMU officials feel out-sourcing printing, sorting, and stuffing envelopes will be a more efficient way of doing business. The processing cost for Peregrine to do the work is just under ten cents per bill. Comptroller Rosetta Marsh compared that to the approximate twelve cents per bill that TMU now pays in house.

The highest among other bids received was thirty-one cents each. There are approximately three thousand utility bills sent to customers each month. The agreement has Peregrine sending to TMU customers a color bill, in a number ten window envelope, and a number nine return envelope. The cost remains at just under ten cents apiece for three years. The postage rate used by the city and by Peregrine will continue to be just over thirty-eight cents. (compared to 55 cents for first-class mail under one ounce)

Councilman Glen Briggs cast the only “no” vote on the selection of Peregrine for TMU mailing and billing services. Tom Stith represented Peregrine last night.

Considerable discussion was held last night on having an electric rate study done. The council voted 5 to 3 to accept an offer from Toth and Associates for an independent study of electric rates. The cost, according to the agreement, is not to exceed $18,000. Opposing the ordinance were Brad Chumbley, Danny Brewer, and Lou Fisher.

Chumbley reiterated his opposition from previous meetings noting, in his opinion, the electric department has a large amount of money in reserves and thus now is not the right time to have a study. Chumbley added he believes the expense of the study is like “throwing money in the street” and will not result in lower electric rates.

An agreement with David Tolen flying service of Gallatin passed on a 6 to 2 vote. Tolen, at a cost of $285 a month, will lease the north hangar at the Trenton airport. Opposed were Glen Briggs and Danny Brewer.

Setting the annual property tax rate was approved on a split vote of 7 to 1. The total rate for the city and parks department combined is just over one dollar and eleven cents ($1.1131) on the 100 dollars of assessed valuation. With a $700 drop in the assessed valuation within the city, Clerk Cindy Simpson said the levy could be raised by four and a third cents in an effort to be “revenue neutral.” The general fund levy is at ninety-four cents and the parks department levy is seventeen point three cents. Councilman Lou Fisher cast the only “no” vote when the ordinance was adopted.

The only ordinance to receive unanimous approval involved a supplemental agreement to an existing engineering services contract with Olsson Associates. This will allow Olsson to do construction inspection and material testing regarding the new 17th Street Bridge in Trenton.

The decision to hire an engineer for future Trenton airport projects was approved 5 to 3. City Administrator Ron Urton said two companies submitted their qualifications. A committee recommended Olsson Associates and will have them submit a proposal for services. Urton said the city needs to have an engineer and a design agreement in place by September or the city risks losing $118,000 in Federal Aviation money.

One possible project to be designed at the airport is the replacement of the old T-hangers with a new hangar. Opposing the motion to have an airport engineer were Larry Crawford, Danny Brewer, and Brad Chumbley.

The council on an 8 to 0 vote, decided to use a vacated, flood-damaged building at the airport for storage. Urton said the street department has 18 pieces of equipment that could be moved there from the Quonset huts north of the fire station. A sewer department trailer also is to be stored in the six thousand square foot building.

The cost to buy and install two overhead doors on the north end is $5,500. It was noted the city received 50 thousand dollars of insurance proceeds on a flood damage claim. The building most recently housed a pet treats making company. Production equipment left inside that building will be sold by the city in an online auction with proceeds being applied to past due rent and utilities.

The city council accepted a building board recommendation to increase the city’s contribution to a maximum of $2,500 to assist in building demolitions in Trenton. It’s a cost-share arrangement with the property owners. The previous cap had been $1,750 per location. The council has increased the demolition budget to$30,000.

Building Inspector Donnie Vandevender hopes the city’s $750 additional contribution will result in more owners willing to pay their share of the demolition costs. He noted of 16 structures which received bids for demolition last year, only three owners followed through with the rest citing the cost for them was more than they were willing to pay. The average bid amount for demolishing a single-story structure was $5,250 and for a two-story $7,770.

Among reports, Utility Director Ron Urton announced all 12 diesel generators passed the EPA test on emissions; the effluent disinfection process at the sewer plant is functional which means the city met the deadline of the DNR settlement agreement, a contractor is to finish pipe lining work on Tuesday for the Normal Street sewer project

then the street department will do the final asphalt overlay; the new asphalt plant has generated over 4,900 tons of asphalt sales for MoDOT maintenance work and other agencies and contractors. The city budgeted to sell 7,500tons.

Demolition work is to resume on the remaining city-owned building at 17th and Lulu. The bid opening is August 30th for the 17th Street Bridge replacement project and all paving has been completed at the airport and it’s open for use.