Wykoff's new mayor, Lyman Hare, presides over the Jan. 14 meeting of the Wykoff City Council.
Wykoff's new mayor, Lyman Hare, presides over the Jan. 14 meeting of the Wykoff City Council.
Wykoff welcomed its new mayor, Lyman Hare, and two new council members - Mitch Grabau and Megan Larson - to the city council during the Jan. 14 meeting.

Committee appointments placed Jeremy Comstock as mayor pro tem; Grabau and Rocky Vreeman in charge of streets, snow removal and park and rec; Vreeman and Comstock in charge of sewer and water; Larson in charge of community education, weeds and pest control. Grabau was reappointed as planning and zoning committee representative, Jason Hare as incident command director, Michelle Hitchcock as deputy incident command director, Mayor Hare and Vreeman as police and fire commissioners, and Comstock as emergency management director.

A $75,000 blanket bond was approved for the city, as were annual designations - Security State Bank is the city's depository and Tom Manion remains the city attorney.

Kevin Graves of WHKS of Rochester presented an update on the installation of new water meters and the construction plans for a new wastewater treatment plant. He first asked approval of a change order for the water meter project, as the original contract for Dakota Supply Group to install new water meters in both commercial and residential properties was $77,210, but the revised cost was $76,190, a decrease of $1,019.

"They provided 229 meters and installed all but those that would have gone into homes that are now vacant. The remaining meters are on a shelf in the city shop to be put in when those homes aren't vacant," noted Graves.

The council accepted the change order and also paid Dakota Supply Group $70,703, withholding 5 percent of the total cost as a retainer.

The next order of business was fulfilling the city's financial obligations for WHKS's services - council members voted to pay $131,300 for engineering work done since August.

Graves shared the wastewater treatment plant's progress, observing that WHKS had received review comments from Rural Development, a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and that the firm is working to respond to concerns expressed in the document and also to submit final plans for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

"The ideal timeline would be at the next meeting, but it may also be in March, then we'd award bids in April. We're making sure to address any concerns the MPCA has," said Graves.

Mayor Hare inquired as to when the original timeline expectations for the project was set, and Graves stated that preliminary plans were to be submitted in August and bids taken this January or February, but that the review and comment process had changed that timeline.

"We're not too far off the mark. The goal is for the site work to begin in late spring or summertime and for the package facility to come late summer or fall. The end date for the project is probably forecast sometime in 2014. We're still hopeful that the plant will be up and running in late 2013," Graves added.

The revised ordinance governing Wykoff's water and sewer systems and the associated user costs went under review once again as the council struggled to decide whether it was fair and equitable.

Community member Philip Eickhoff spoke, asking the council to consider how it charges for base water and sewer usage, as he felt that rental property owners were not being given fair assessments since the city had determined that base rates would be set by the size of meters in a building and its units.

Graves answered a question posed regarding how most towns handle charging for water and sewer, saying that instead of charging by meter size, he was more familiar with towns establishing a fixed rate for per-thousand gallons used and then adding another fixed charge for each additional thousand used.

"The base rate covers all of the fixed costs, everybody receives the same service, and the rate escalates per thousand gallons used to match maintenance cost," he said.

Hare said the ordinance in question had been reviewed by the city attorney and is in accordance with League of Minnesota Cities guidelines.

"It has to be published twice before we can pass it, and we'll be voting on it at the February meeting," he noted.

Council members voted to send the revised ordinance for first publication.

The council debated at length whether to sign a renewed contract with Waste Management, as the previous contract, which is in effect until 2016, still has the city as the contract holder, thereby making the city responsible for residents' delinquent payments.

Waste Management's proposed new contract would make the company assume billing duties and change the recycling and trash pickup schedule. However, council members expressed apprehension at signing the new contract because of stipulations that they felt needed further investigation. The matter was tabled until the February meeting.

Wade Baker, who has been serving as Wykoff's fire chief for the past months, was officially made chief. He reported that the fire department's narrowband pagers are in need of an adjustment, and he requested that the council allow them to be sent in batches of four or five to be repaired.

He presented another request to purchase two more pagers to stand in for those being sent for adjustments and also to be available if the fire department gains two more firefighters to round the department out to its full roster of 22 people. Council members put the item on a list of purchases to review.

Lastly, the rural fire board meeting was set for Feb. 20 or 21 at 7 p.m., depending on firefighters' availability.