Utility rates rise due to plant closure

Nearly 300 people will lose their jobs when the towns largest employer shuts down. (Louis Finley/KTVO)

It's a town of 6,000, but it's running a sewer plant for five times its population.

"Our sewer plant is terrifically overbuilt for a town," said Trenton Missouri Mayor Nick McHargue.

It's because of the city’s largest employer, ConAgra Foods. But, ConAgra is closing its doors at the end of May.

Nearly 300 people will lose their jobs when the town's largest employer shuts down. McHargue said Trenton residents will also feel the effects.

"They'll have to help pick up these bond costs that we've had to implement due to government regulations over the years," McHargue said

The city will lose about $150,000 in tax revenue.

"It will be a real burden," McHargue said

The city has taken steps to ease the transition for residents, starting in 2016, raising sewer rates an initial 30 percent, and another 30 percent this year.

"Compared to the efficiency we had before, the efficiency that we have now is gone," McHargue said.

The City of Trenton’s Utility Director Ron Urton said the city is speaking to companies to fill the soon-to-be vacated plant.

In the meantime, Urton said the city has a cash reserve.

"It's optimistic on one of those coming in, and the reserve will carry us through until they get up and going and get to using utilities again,” Urton said.

Something both the North Central Missouri Development Alliance and the Trenton Chamber of Commerce are both optimistic about.

"Nothing has been finalized yet, but it's looking to be good," said Executive Director of North Central Missouri Development Micah Landes.

"We still have several other businesses here in Trenton, and Trenton is a very strong community, and we will survive,” said Trenton Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Carmen.
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