The possibility of municipal trash services and attracting additional businesses served as key discussion topics before a sparse crowd of 20 residents Monday night.

The possibility of municipal trash services and attracting additional businesses served as key discussion topics before a sparse crowd of 20 residents Monday night.

Six Grain Valley Board of Aldermen candidates – three incumbents, two newcomers and one former alderman – met at the Grain Valley High School auditorium for a 90-minute panel discussion. Elections will take place one week from today, with one seat up for election in each of the three wards.

Chris Bamman, a Grain Valley Board of Education candidate who is running unopposed to fill a vacant seat, also provided a brief statement about his previous experiences with the school district and how he would like to expand programs available within the district


City trash services

Aldermen candidates were asked to contemplate the benefits and drawbacks of possible municipal trash services in Grain Valley. Dale Arnold, a Ward 1 incumbent who is completing his first two-year term, said the advantages of municipal trash services include limiting the number of trucks on streets.

These trucks are a potential hazard for young children and also provide extensive wear on the city’s infrastructure, Arnold said.

“We’ll need your input so we make the right decision,” he said.

Chet Piotrowski, a Ward 1 candidate who previously served on the board from 2003-07, said the Board of Aldermen addressed possible municipal trash services in 2005. Piotrowski said the city should place the issue on a ballot and allow residents to determine if they should have municipal trash services.

“I think this is an issue not for six people to decide,” he said. “I think this is an issue for the community to decide because they got their (existing) service for a reason, and we don’t know that reason.”

Chuck Johnston, a Ward 2 candidate who is seeking his second term, said municipal trash service also presents the opportunity for curbside recycling services. The city has an existing recycling facility near City Hall that is often overflowing because residents in neighboring communities use it. As a result, Grain Valley taxpayers are paying additional costs to haul off the recycled items, Johnston said, and those costs could be reduced through curbside recycling and municipal trash services.

Daniel Strack, who is seeking his first term as a Ward 2 alderman, said the most significant factor for him is choice. He said the city should investigate the number of choices that would be available through municipal trash services.

The bottom line with municipal trash services is saving money, said Mike Scully, a Ward 3 incumbent who has served on the board for 10 years.

“My budget at the house is tight, just like everybody else’s, and if I could save $5 or $6 a month on trash service, I think it’s worth looking at,” Scully said. “If we could save money, I think it’s worth looking at. We’re not committed to doing anything. We could get the bids and see if it’s practical.”

Jamie Duncan, who is a newcomer seeking his first term in Ward 3, said it is difficult for the voices of six aldermen to make decisions for thousands of Grain Valley residents. He said a city survey is a good start in receiving residents’ feedback, but Duncan said he would not support municipal trash services if residents disfavor it.

State of businesses in Grain Valley

An audience member questioned candidates of their opinions toward businesses in Grain Valley.

Piotrowski said the city should continue its efforts in attracting new businesses so residents can spend their paychecks in town.

An independent market analysis in 2006 concluded that Grain Valley experienced $65.8 million of retail leakage in 2005.

Strack said Grain Valley should steer away from attracting  “big-box stores” that often scare away small, locally owned businesses.

Instead, the city should work to attract more industries that focus on long-term job creation, Stack said.

Duncan took a neutral approach in his answer and said it will take a mix of new and existing businesses in Grain Valley – both large and small – to create new jobs in a economic downturn.

City staff continues to develop an economic development plan, Scully said, but it’s often difficult to attract new businesses in an economic recession. Scully emphasized the importance of city staff working with residents and not isolating them with infrastructure improvements.

Scully, Johnston and Arnold all suggested that Grain Valley residents shop locally and support existing Grain Valley businesses.

Johnston said he would like additional large retail stores in Grain Valley because retail sales taxes provide a significant source of city revenue.

Arnold said if residents show a trend toward shopping locally, additional businesses would relocate in Grain Valley. He said that he has seen more residents shopping recently at Grain Valley’s Patricia’s Foods, which helps the grocery store stay competitive with larger chain stores.