Trenton Finance Committee to once again recommend TMU loan of $2M to wastewater department

City of Trenton Website

The city council’s Finance Committee again is recommending the full city council considers allowing the TMU electric department to allocate $2,000,000 to help fund the head works sewer project for the wastewater department.  An estimated $1,000,000 would come out of the wastewater reserves to cover the anticipated $3,000,000 cost, although the actual won’t be known until April.

Committee members endorsing the arrangement were Brad Chumbley, Larry Crawford, Larry Porter, and Travis Elbert. When the city council last week considered a similar recommendation from the finance committee, this idea failed to carry as three of the council was in favor, four opposed, and one member was absent then.

When discussion last evening began about the TMU fiscal year budget, Brad Chumbley wondering if a document could be prepared describing money taken from the electric fund reserves as an administrative fee or appropriation in an effort to avoid referring to it as a loan. After much discussion, Chumbley made the motion to have the city attorney draft a document that allows $2,000,000 to be taken from electric, place the money in the wastewater fund, with payback at one half of a percent interest for 15-years.

Mayor Nick McHargue stated the savings on the interest with such an arrangement would be about $1,000,000 when compared to the rate charged via a conventional bank loan. Chumbley also pointed out in ten years, some $526,000 of a previous debt on a sewer system project will be freed up.

Councilman Larry Crawford led the next discussion on an issue involving a pipe and valve in the high service pump room of the water plant. He requested the capital outlay budget for this item to be lowered to $100,000 from the listed figure of $475,000. The request was approved four to nothing.

Then the Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend the full city council adopt the 2019-20 TMU budget with the change. All eight council members were present but only four could vote since it was a committee meeting.

Committee Chairman Travis Elbert, who’s leaving the city council next month after six years of service, provided a list of items for the next finance committee to keep in mind when it comes time to prepare the 2020-2021 budgets.

When the three-member Utility committee met, (Mlika, Hottes, Elbert) members voted to recommend the council accept a bid from T&R Electric at $39,990 on three pole-mount transformers and one pad-mount transformer for TMU. Two other companies also submitted bids. There also was a review of the February 28th financials for all three departments of Trenton Municipal.

The administrative committee reviewed an ordinance adopted in April 2000 on maintaining public sidewalks in a safe condition including snow removal. A motion was made by Briggs to not change the ordinance but ask Administrator Urton to check on snow removal equipment for use on sidewalks of the 9th Street Bridge and elsewhere.

The motion passed three to one with Councilman Lou Fisher opposed noting the ordinance can’t be enforced the way it’s written.