Tom Wente, left, of Smith Shafer & Associates, gives the 2013 audit report to Wykoff's city council.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Tom Wente, left, of Smith Shafer & Associates, gives the 2013 audit report to Wykoff's city council. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Wykoff's city council heard both good and bad news last Monday, March 10, as it reviewed finances and heard an update on the construction of its new wastewater treatment plant, a facility that will replace an aging plant with parts that have become nearly obsolete.

Auditor Tom Wente, of Smith, Shafer & Associates, presented the 2013 audit report, pointing out that local government aid (LGA) increased from $118,215 to $126,862 in 2014. The city came out under budget by $15,091, as it had planned expenditures of $239,995 but spent $224,904.

Wente advised the council to keep an eye on its water and sewer funds yet again, as the water fund had a net loss of $4,157 after depreciation, and the sewer fund had a net income of $298,591 after $17,481 in depreciation. The sewer fund is essentially making progress, as rates have been raised in the past years, but the city is also in the process of building the new wastewater treatment plant.

Councilor Jeremy Comstock asked Wente, "Is this implying that we should be raising water rates?"

Wente responded, "You're not quite bringing in enough. You'll need either a rate increase, or you'll have to keep pulling the $15,000 (set aside) in there. It's your choice."

The city has a reserve fund balance that stands at 97 percent of its expenditures, and it also has a healthy capital project fund of $149,490.

Kevin Graves, of WHKS, appeared before the council to relay that bids had been received for the new wastewater plant and that he felt that the Joseph Company, of Austin, an original bidder during the first bidding process, should be awarded the project - contingent upon Rural Development's approval - because the company submitted a bid of $2.32 million, "only a $20,000 difference from their first bid."

Councilors gladly approved the awarding of the bid, and Graves cited that while it may not be very visibly apparent that progress has been made in the long process to build the plant, paperwork will be done in the next month and "probably early May, they'll get out to the site."

Mayor Lyman Hare brought a suggestion to review fire call rates, as the Wykoff Fire Department's current fire call rate is $500 per call. Taking into consideration that the department sometimes uses more water than what it hauls when it first responds or uses foam fire repellant, councilors briefly spoke about what additional charges might be incurred. Hare related that presently, there are approximately 10 unpaid fire call charges on the city's books, and he hoped that those payments will be received soon because they amount to revenue of nearly $5,000.

The council received better news from Hyland Motors about a $1,739 bill for repairs to machinery that broke a year and a half after the warranty expired. Hyland Motors was able to offer a credit of $580 to assist the city since the repairs were to an implement that had been used less than 200 hours, so the new bill totals $1,159.06. The council accepted the credit from Hyland Motors.

A resident inquired with the council whether her sewer rates could be adjusted if she were to have to run water to avoid having her household's pipes freeze. Hare acknowledged that neighboring cities have made allowances for water rates to be averaged since their councils have asked residents to monitor water temperatures and if necessary, run water continuously until spring arrives underground. However, he and council members discussed the ramifications of residents running water for that purpose, and determined that because a policy is not in place, the city cannot advise them regarding their water usage or sewer rates.

The resident who inquired pointed out that since this is the first quarter of the year and sewer rates for the rest of the year are determined based on 85 percent of the first quarter's charges, her sewer rates would be greater for the rest of the year simply because she attempted to keep the water lines running.

The council was inconclusive about the matter, deciding not to make any adjustments and advising city clerk Cheryl Davis to inform citizens that the city does not have a policy in place.

Finally, the council approved a maximum bid of $500 for the removal of chain link fence surrounding the former Kingsland Middle School tennis court, as the city received the land from the school district and intends to use it for parking.