Trenton City Council sees lengthy meeting with discussions of trash pickup, curbside recycling, demolition of properties and more

City of Trenton website updated June 2023
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Split votes determined the fate of three topics on Monday night’s agenda for the Trenton City Council. The vote was seven to one to continue using Rapid Removal Disposal of Trenton for residential trash service. The council voted five to three not to accept a new contract with Hope Haven Industries of Chillicothe, thus eliminating the residential curbside recycling fee. When the council tied four to four on reinstating two houses to the demolition list, the Mayor voted to break the tie. The only unanimous votes occurred for hiring a policeman and accepting the low bid for river pump station improvements at the water treatment plant. There was a split vote on an equipment purchase.

Representatives from two companies were present to discuss trash pickup bids and to answer questions from the council. Owner Jim Watje represented Rapid Removal, and Tom Coffman is the government contracts manager for GFL, which stands for Green for Life Environmental. After a 30-minute discussion, Calvin Brown made the motion to accept the bid from Rapid Removal on a three-year contract, even though it’s higher than the base bid submitted by GFL. Starting in 2024, Rapid Removal’s monthly cost for once-a-week curbside trash pickup will be $20. The rate will increase by 60 cents in 2025 and another 60 cents in 2026. The current residential fee is $12.25 per month per household. Voting in favor of the Rapid Removal contract were Calvin Brown, Glen Briggs, Lou Fisher, Dave Mlika, Tim Meinecke, Marvin Humphreys, and John Dolan. Opposed was Duane Urich.

Several council members expressed concerns with the GFL residential trash service bid, which would begin at $13.75 per month for next year. However, that is only for one company-provided trash cart described as a 96-gallon size. For those with greater amounts of trash in a week, an additional cart per household could be rented at $10 a month, which GFL would bill to a customer. GFL also would sell stickers at $2 each to be placed on bags of trash meant for pickup. Watje told the council Rapid Removal has no limit on the number of bags a household has for trash pickup. There were also concerns about a ten percent monthly administrative fee, which Coffman explained covers GFL costs that include informational mailers to customers, keeping extra carts in inventory, and fuel. At a cost of $1 per bill, the city will continue to include the trash service fee on monthly TMU bills.

Rapid Removal will also continue to pick up trash from city facilities, buildings, parks, and Trenton Municipal. That cost next year will be $6,700, which is lower than the GFL quote of $7,638 for the first year for all the locations. The city of Trenton also receives tipping fees since Rapid Removal has a transfer station at Trenton. The amount of the fees was expected to be less if Rapid Removal did not get the contract because the volume of trash would be reduced.

Once the trash service provider was determined, the council turned its attention to a contract renewal with Hope Haven for mandatory curbside recycling. The current monthly fee is $3.92. GFL had a recycling quote of $9.25 per month. Hope Haven, in their bid, proposed a fee of $6 a month beginning in 2024. Then, 50-cent increases were proposed in each of the next two years. Under the terms of the bid, the city would continue to include the recycling fee on TMU bills.

Citing the just-approved increase in the trash bill, Councilman Tim Meinecke was the first to mention “doing away” with curbside recycling in an effort to lessen the financial blow for customers. He also pointed out the small percentage of residents who actually recycle. On a motion that eliminates the recycling fee, the council voted five to three. In favor were Tim Meinecke, Dave Mlika, Duane Urich, Lou Fisher, and Marvin Humphreys. Opposed were John Dolan, Glen Briggs, and Calvin Brown. Hope Haven provides a truck and trailer that travels Trenton streets to pick up recyclables placed at curbside. Watje, who was still at the council meeting, offered to have a trailer available at the Rapid Removal site to allow citizens who want to recycle to do so by taking their items there. Rapid Removal would then drive the trailer, when full, to Hope Haven in Chillicothe. Among her opening remarks, which came before the council votes, Mayor Jackie Soptic stated she was working on a grant seeking $19,500 from the Solid Waste Management District to purchase totes for Trenton residents to hold recyclables, making it easier for Hope Haven workers to identify.

A month ago, the city council removed two structures from the demolition list as the city was to bear the entire cost for tearing them down and removal of hazardous materials. Last night, Councilman Duane Urich asked for the topic to be revisited. Last month, the council approved a list of eight demolitions with the city obligating $2,500 each in a cost-sharing arrangement with property owners. Collectively, they committed $20,000 of the council-approved $50,000 budget for demolition. Two other structures, described by several as in dire need of being torn down and the lots cleaned up, have a demolition cost of $19,500. The owners of 835 West 13th Court (Jim Ellis) and 416 West 13th Court (Wilma Bush) say they don’t have the money to pay their share. On the motion to proceed with the city paying all costs of the two demolitions, the council split four to four. In favor were John Dolan, Duane Urich, Dave Mlika, and Glen Briggs. Opposed were Lou Fisher, Tim Meinecke, Calvin Brown, and Marvin Humphreys. Mayor Jackie Soptic cast her first vote to break a tie, voting in favor of the demolitions. Since both will be at the city’s expense, a tax lien will be placed on those two properties, showing the cost incurred by the city should someone be interested in purchasing the lots. It’s expected the administrative committee will meet to develop a policy on what the city should do when property owners say they are unable to afford demolition.

In other action, the council accepted a bid from Smico Contracting Group of Odessa for $183,912 for the river pump station improvements. It’s a budgeted item and close to what the project engineer had estimated. Two higher bids were received. On a recommendation from the police personnel board, Anthony May of Trenton was employed as a police officer contingent on his December graduation from the police academy.

The city council, upon the recommendation of Utility Director Ron Urton, agreed to place a purchase order for a Vermeer Hydro-Vac to assist with the identification of lead service lines in the city. The equipment is described as a trailer-mounted unit with a vacuum hose. This is a budgeted item, and the cost is $75,150. The price is only good for 30 days. It’s expected that TMU will use the new equipment, along with an existing older unit, for a couple of years before the older one is removed from service. The vote to approve the purchase passed 7 to 1, with Marvin Humphreys opposed. Urton reported asphalt sales at Trenton have reached 39,000 tons.

Mayor Soptic reported she’s in the process of writing a grant request for repairs to the World War One memorial in Moberly Park. The local matching funds are to be provided through the Trenton Park Board.

On behalf of the utility committee, Duane Urich described the three scenarios presented in an independent study of Trenton Municipal electric rates – two of which suggest an increase. Utility Director Urton offered to provide an executive summary of the rate study before the council votes on the matter at a future meeting. Urich also discussed discussions involving the economic development committee, North Central Missouri Fair Board, and others regarding possible new locations for the fair. He listed, in order, land that a farmer or property owner might be willing to provide, space at the Barton campus, or what he called an “under-utilized” piece of farm ground the city owns in north Trenton.

At the beginning of the council meeting, nine members of a communications class at North Central Missouri College introduced themselves and said where they were from; then stayed for the first half of the meeting Monday night.

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