Trenton City Council responds to concerns over residential trash pickup

City of Trenton Website

Much of the discussion during Monday night’s Trenton City Council meeting involved discussion on trash service complaints.

City administrator Ron Urton provided a list of recent complaint calls received by city hall detailing addresses that experienced issues. Two members of the public, Larry Huffstutter and Gaylon McCorkle voiced their concerns. Responses were provided by Rapid Removal Disposal Owner Jim Watje and by an employee at Trenton. Huffstutter, who said he served 14 years in the past as a councilman, detailed the issue he had in disposing of three pieces of carpeting.  He said they were not picked up on the regular trash route, so they were loaded into a pickup and hauled to Rapid Removal, where he was told he did not get there in time to unload that day, two minutes after the 3:30 closing time on the truck scale.

Watje responded DNR regulations require 3:30 closing for public disposal of items taken there. Written complaints received by city hall primarily dealt with trash not being picked up on expected dates or not at all. The discussion was held with several council members.

As indicated at a council meeting two weeks ago, the city of Trenton has a contract for residential trash service by Rapid Removal; the city’s main duty is to collect the trash service fee, which appears as a separate item on monthly TMU bills. Customers who have complaints concerning trash service should call Rapid Removal.

Third Ward councilman Robert Romesburg said it appears customer and employee education, along with customer service is needed. Suggestions were made to have Rapid Removal write a letter on what it can accept, and the city can include that when mailing out next month’s bills. The council also requested Rapid Removal employees on the trash routes leave notes explaining if not everything is picked up, the reason why, plus the date and location.

City attorney Tara Walker stated the contract specifies Rapid Removal will pick up a bulky item if it weighs less than 150 pounds and is reasonably handled by two people. There was a discussion that Rapid Removal in 2020 had suspended the bulky item pickup due to COVID-19 concerns. Still, when pressed by the council, Watje agreed with the terms in the contract to pick up one bulky item per week per Trenton residence.

If a resident wishes to haul large items to Rapid Removal on Northwest 10th Avenue, Watje said the cost for up to 2,000 pounds is $49.00, which he said was less than what others charge. Watje also reminded the public there’s a large container at Rapid Removal, which is for disposal of glass which is not accepted by Hope Haven recycling.

Before the council meeting, a third public hearing was held regarding a proposed new section in city code establishing the downtown historic district. Previous public hearings were in February before the Historic Preservation Commission and in May before the Trenton Planning and Zoning Commission. Historic Preservation Commission Member Diane Lowrey, along with others, were present for Monday night’s hearing and then the city council meeting.

During the hearing, Business owner Sena Arnold voiced her concerns, and responses were provided. An ordinance adopted by the council years ago describes design guidelines within the district but the district itself, according to Lowrey, had not actually been adopted nor included within Trenton city code.

During the council meeting, a motion was made to table the establishment of the downtown historic district when it was determined a legal description for a specific area might be in error. Diane Lowrey thanked council members Danny Brewer and Marvin Humphreys for noting the possible error regarding a map drawn of the district to which Lowrey said involves a “couple blocks” that shouldn’t be part of the district. The city attorney will work on a revision and have it ready for the next meeting.

On a split vote of five in favor and two opposed, the council accepted a proposal for the Convention and Visitors Bureau to hire a marketing group to promote Trenton. The cost is approximately $25,000, with that amount to be paid via the city of Trenton’s lodging tax revenue. Cara McClellan of the bureau said five firms responded to requests either with a bid or a proposal, but the one from a Kansas City company called “Johnny Lightning Strikes Again” was the only one that allowed payments to be split over three phases – evaluation, strategy, and implementation.

Work is expected to involve the development of a brand for Trenton and to expand online and social media. The bureau meets with company representatives today (Tuesday) in Trenton.

Voting against a motion to allow the bureau to hire the company were Marvin Humphreys and Danny Brewer. Humphreys said he hated to see the money “go out of Trenton” when he felt there should be someone locally. McClellan explained a contact was made with a local individual who did not submit a bid. Using the outside of Trenton firm allows “new eyes” to explore what can be done regarding tourism in Trenton.

McClellan explained the Convention and Visitors Bureau has all-volunteer members – none of whom with the marketing expertise to the extent a professional company can offer.

Mayor Linda Crooks appointed, with council consent, Nate Swan to serve on the Trenton Park Board. Seven members of the council participated either in person or by zoom. Dave Mlika was absent. Mayor Crooks also -presided via zoom.