Wykoff getting new city welcome signs

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Wykoff’s City Council held its first meeting of 2020 on Monday, Jan. 13, approving new entrance signs to the city as well as various annual business items for the new year.

City clerk Becky Schmidt told the council that she had contacted Mike Meyer Signs of Mazeppa for quotes for two “Welcome to Wykoff” signs to post at the edges of town, receiving a reply of $6,000 for two 5-foot by 10-foot signs.

Conversation ensued as to where they would be located and how to install them, along with how to obtain permission from property owners who live on the east and south ends of town, as those are the most prominent entrances to Wykoff. The council voted unanimously to approve the purchase.

In other action, Schmidt brought forward the $183,963 final levy payable in 2020 with general fund revenue of $137,781.

Also, the council took action to approve a 1.6 percent cost of living raise for all city employees, passing a motion unanimously. Councilor Richard Gleason requested that the matter be brought to the Budget Committee meeting in the future for discussion and committee approval before being presented to the City Council.

The councilors handled a resolution adopting the city’s official 2020 designations, including depositories, city attorney and more. Minnwest Bank will be the city’s depository where Schmidt and Mayor Al Williams will be authorized to conduct business. Schmidt will be allowed to make deposits and withdrawals from city savings accounts to fulfill city financial obligations and Gleason will sign checks in the absence of the mayor or city clerk. Dwight Luhmann was named once more as the city attorney.

Committee appointments found: Williams and Gleason in charge of streets, snow removal and sanding – with the meeting dates of that committee set for the first Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m.; councilors Mary Tjepkes and Lyle Morey on the sewer and water committee which meets the second Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m.; Mary Sackett and Gleason on the personnel committee convening on the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.; Sackett and Tjepkes on the parks and recreations, joint trails board and community education – gathering on the first Saturday of the month at 10 a.m.; John Baker being charged with pest control efforts and Williams in charge of managing weeds; Jason Hare being appointed as incident command and Williams serving as deputy incident command; Morey and Gleason as police and fire commissioners who will meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.; John Apenhorst as emergency management director; Gleason as mayor pro-tem; and Sackett as zoning commissioner – meeting on the last Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. A roll call vote passed for the appointments’ adoption.

Administrative fees came next, as the 2020 schedule was up for review. Williams outlined the special workshop that the council held on Jan. 8 to discuss fees currently in effect, citing that Schmidt had been asked to inquire with other towns regarding their water and sewer hookup fees. Sackett and Tjepkes made motions to approve $500 each for water and sewer hookups. Cost of new water and sewer lines will be the resident’s responsibility.

Water fees included monthly billing set at a base rate of $18.70 for a minimum, with an additional $7.81 per 1,000 gallons for water usage; water sales from a hydrant or the city shed base rate is $25 and $7.81 per 1,000 gallons each visit; swimming pools filled after hours by the fire department have no base fee incurred but cost the $7.81 per 1,000 gallons, new water hookups were listed at $500, reconnecting water hookups for delinquent accounts was set at $50 and a meter deposit of $150 is required for all structures connected to city water. Monthly base sewer rates were set at a $35 minimum with an additional $10.86 per 1,000 gallons for water usage and new hookups are $500.

In wastewater treatment plant news, Chris Secrist, of PeopleService, reported that Wykoff’s plant is in compliance and that a new plant manager has been assigned to Wykoff and will be at the plant as soon as he is done with medical leave.

The fee schedule also included liquor license fees set at $1,200 for on-sale, $100 for off-sale, $50 for 3.2 beer, and setups at $250 as required by the state of Minnesota. Fire calls are $750 for the initial call, with $250 per hour for each hour after the initial call plus any extras such as fire suppression chemicals. Pet licenses are now $5 per year or $20 lifetime per pet. Nonsufficient-funded check fees are $30 per check.

The Wykoff Community Hall will be rented for charitable events and school events at $25 per use, at an hourly rate of $25 per hour up to three hours, the north side rented out for $125 and the south side for $200, the whole hall for $325, an additional nonrefundable dance fee of $100, and a refundable deposit of $100 is required with the rental agreement.

The city carrying out lawn mowing, trimming trees and shrubbery and maintaining fence lines starts with a base rate of $75 per hour with a minimum of one hour’s work, and junk removal and general cleanup is also $75 per hour with a minimum of one hour and cost of disposal of materials on a case by case basis.

Fire Chief Wade Baker reported that the department’s firefighters have had demonstrations on the new air packs that the department will be ordering using grant money, and he related that the purchase will be made through sealed bids. He also informed the council that some firefighters will be taking hazardous materials and firefighter training on Jan. 27 and that there are still two openings on the department’s roster. Furthermore, the department may have to order new turnout gear, as its newest members do not have full sets for answering calls.

Williams related that the city did not get any bids for the old Christmas lights that were replaced a few years ago, but the Wykoff Area Historical Society would like to have some of the very old lights, along with opera chairs that the society had hoped to acquire for its collection. Sackett stated that items received by the society not related to the school are being stored in an unused building instead of at Ed’s Museum and that eventually, a separate site for a Wykoff museum may be developed.

During discussion about the consent agenda, Williams observed that the expense for heating the Jail Haus stood at $275 and questioned whether it would be cost effective to continue doing so. He asked Sackett whether the historical society intended to leave the heat on all winter and what costs were anticipated.

Sackett replied that the historical society thought that the Jail Haus was going to be listed on Airbnb for the season’s entirety, but Schmidt informed the council that it had been removed from the website.

Councilors conversed about how rental charges would have to be increased to compensate for snow removal and cleaning. The councilors agreed that the poorly insulated historic building could suffer damage in the cold and that finding an alternative heat source might be the best option to maintain it during the remaining winter months.

Ultimately, the council concluded that the Jail Haus garnered summer rentals that helped provide repair, maintenance and updating funds and still turned a profit that can help keep it viable in the future.

Note: The Tribune was unable to attend due to prior commitments but obtained the unofficial minutes for this report.