Trenton City Council split on vote to lift hiring freeze

City of Trenton Website

On split votes, the Trenton City Council last night lifted the temporary hiring freeze that had been imposed at the council meeting two weeks ago.

At the February 26th meeting, Councilman Brad Chumbley presented the motion to enact the hiring freeze until the next budget year begins in May. The council four to four on the motion, then, Mayor Nick McHargue broke the tie by voting in favor.

Monday night, Doctor McHargue said he requested the hiring freeze topic for the agenda to allow the council to consider an exception to the temporary freeze, noting a water plant operator needs to be hired. Steve Reid told the council he had a staff of six employees plus himself. But one retired; and two plans plan to retire later this year, Reid said a water plant operator needs to attend school, only held in May, and pass a test in order to obtain a license. Brad Chumbley made the motion to lift the temporary hiring freeze across the board, meaning for all departments of the city and for TMU.

The council voted six to two in support of lifting the total ban on hiring employees. The result was then vetoed by Mayor Nick McHargue. Glenn Briggs presented a motion to override the Mayors’ veto. And it was the same result: six in favor and two opposed.

Voting both times in favor were Chumbley, Briggs, Travis Elbert, Jenn Hottes, Allan Quilty and Larry Porter. Opposed to both were Dave Mlika and Larry Crawford.

In other action, the council, after much discussion, approved spending money for the city and TMU share of the first year cost for a reverse 911 notification system for persons with landline phones and for cell phones that opt-in.

Councilman Glen Briggs, who is Grundy County’s Emergency Preparedness Director, clarified terminology calls it “reverse 911” but in reality, it has nothing to do the 911 system. For one year, the city and TMU will split the $1,800 cost to go with funds provided by Grundy county and county health department to pay the $5,000 quote from Everbridge Communications. The system involves verbal messages, including storm warning bulletins, being relayed via phone calls.

The council unanimously approved allowing Mid States Services to attach fiber optic lines to city of Trenton utility poles. Beginning five years from now, Mid States will pay TMU $7.50 per pole used in the project. An ordinance was approved to update the city code on the amount of license tax for telephone companies. That tax is equal to 5% of the gross receipts from such business in the city.

An ordinance was adopted to allow Burns and McDonnell Engineering to provide inspection services while a contractor is sandblasting and repainting the two water towers in Trenton. The cost is not to exceed $119,000 and could be less if the contractor completes work in fewer hours. Seven council members voted in favor and Brad Chumbley was opposed.

Another ordinance was approved for services related to the orthophosphate feed at the water treatment plant. This is with Lathrop Gage LLP and Environmental Specialty Partners. Cost on this part of the project is $17,800.

This is the corrosion-control project to coat lead service lines for select areas of town. The latest 40 water samples have been sent to a lab for testing for lead and it was reported DNR has given the go-ahead to inject the chemical into the water system.

Councilman Travis Elbert praised North Central Missouri Development Alliance supporters plus Micah Landes and Phil Tate for their efforts as Nestle’s announced the conditional purchase of ConAgra. Elbert called it a huge win for the community.

Phil Tate is expected to meet with the city council next Monday night, March 19th, at 6 pm to review details of the agreement as it potentially impacts the city. Mayor Nick McHargue hinted the city may have to consider some things to ensure the plant will be operational for generations to come.

A citizen requested information on the dog breed specific ordinance as it relates to mixed breeds. She was advised to visit with Police Chief Tommy Wright.

Carol Hobbs of Hope Haven Industries was asked to attend the council meeting and discuss recycling. She reported in the last eight months, Hope Haven collected 301,000 pounds of recyclables, 10% to 15% of that, she said, turned out to be nothing more than trash that Hope Haven disposed of in a landfill. Hope Haven collects for recycling: paper, cardboard, plastics, aluminum and steel cans.

The council, at the request of the Mayor, tabled until next meeting, a right of way proposal from MoDot involving in part State Highway 6. It contains negotiated agreements outlining responsibilities for both the city of Trenton and MoDOT.