Trenton City Council rejects electric rate increase proposal, new residential trash pickup contract approved

City of Trenton website updated June 2023
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The Trenton City Council Monday night defeated a proposed increase in electric rates for Trenton Municipal Utilities, however, the council agreed to have the city attorney prepare an ordinance for an April vote on a local sales tax.

Councilman John Dolan proposed a two percent increase per year in electric rates, phased in over five years, however, he was the only one in favor during the roll call vote. The six councilmen voting against the increase were Lou Fisher, Glen Briggs, Calvin Brown, Marvin Humphreys, Tim Meinecke, and David Mlika. Councilman Duane Urich was absent. Toth and Associates, an independent company, conducted a cost-of-service study on Trenton’s electric rate structure, recommending a 10.6 percent increase over five years. This increase, according to Toth’s report, would help Trenton cover its capital plan and annual debt service while maintaining its cash position.

Utility director Ron Urton mentioned the next major project for the electric department would be upgrading the power distribution system. Without rate adjustments, the Toth study noted, the electric department’s operating margins would decrease over the next five years due to predicted increases in power purchase costs and general inflation. The proposed increase would have affected all service classes: residential, commercial, large industry, and security lights. The study estimated an additional $784,000 in revenue for the TMU electric department over five years.

Several dissenting councilmen expressed concerns about the impact of an electric rate increase on customers, especially those on fixed incomes, referencing a recent increase in residential trash collection fees.

Earlier that evening, the economic development committee reviewed a brochure by Scott Sharp of the North Central Missouri Development Alliance, proposing a half-cent sales tax for economic development. Upon the committee’s recommendation, seven council members voted to have the city attorney draft an ordinance for council review. State statutes stipulate that these funds cannot be used for retail development and no more than 25 percent can be spent on administration, a point of contention among council members.

The seven councilmen present formally approved a residential trash pickup contract with Rapid Removal Disposal of Trenton. It’s a three-year contract with next year’s fee set at $20 per household per month, increasing by 60 cents in 2025 and 61 cents in 2026. The contract specifies trash pickup times and limitations on bulky items and prohibits curbside pickup of metal items.

The council also approved an agreement with the Highways and Transportation Commission to accept a grant for the design phase of the airport hangar replacement project. The initial grant amount is $92,540, with the city providing local funds not exceeding $5,960. Another grant is expected to cover the remaining eligible project costs.

City administrator Ron Urton reported Trenton’s approval for a grant to fund sidewalks from 4th Street to the new Dollar General on the town’s west edge, through MoDOT’s Transportation Assistance Program.

Mayor Jackie Soptic appointed Lauren Danner to the Convention and Visitors Board, replacing the retiring Debbie Carman.

Urton discussed the need for signs prohibiting semi-truck parking along the east side of Shanklin between 13th Street and 13th Court due to parking issues. Bids for 35,000 tons of rock and 15,000 tons of sand for the Trenton asphalt plant are due by November 30th at city hall.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m., after which the council entered an executive session for a legal matter.

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