Snowblowers, paid time off (PTO) and water treatment plant construction landed on the Wykoff City Council's agenda for a meeting held Monday, Feb 10. Mayor Lyman Hare, councilors Rocky Vreeman, Mitch Grabau, Jeremy Comstock and Megan Larson Lund were in attendance.

Comstock opened discussion by showing the rest of the councilors what remained of parts of a nearly-new snowblower, relating that the bearings "locked up and pushed through the housing." New parts cost the city $1,739 and Comstock stated that he felt that the parts should have been replaced free of charge because the snowblower had fewer than 100 hours' use. The council voted not to pay the bill until further investigation could be made into why the parts could not be replaced under warranty.

In another matter, Comstock expressed his frustrations with city clerk Cheryl Davis's interpretation of the city's newly-adopted PTO policy, as he stated that he felt that she is not always available during the time that the city office is to be open - from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and that he felt that she had not understood that if she takes time off, it is counted only as a half day or full day, not by the specific number of hours or minutes she takes off. Additionally, he cited that if she chose to leave the office midday or remain at home due to school weather closings, it should be at her own expense - not a paid day to be made up at a later date by arriving earlier or later.

"First of all, we're not a school, and second, if she's not taking a half day off, she's not able to make up the two hours she took off if she chooses to leave at 2," he said.

Vreeman and Grabau agreed that if Davis decides that the weather is too bad to venture out, it should be "taken without pay," as the city recently converted its vacation and sick time to PTO, which includes only PTO and holidays off.

Hare pointed out, "When she uses up her 21 days off, she's done."

The council asked Larson Lund to draft provisions to the policy stating that a half day is four hours and a full day is eight hours, that partial half days taken off - be it two hours - cannot be made up, and that the city would like to be notified a month in advance if Davis knows that she will need time off. The matter extends to other city employees as well, as the council has attempted to iron out and simplify how its employees are scheduled and how their vacation time is taken.

Hare updated the councilors on the progress of the new wastewater treatment plant's construction, sharing that WHKS engineer Kevin Graves will be replaced by Rick Engstrom, as Graves's job was to assist the city in pre-construction funding and design matters, and Engstrom's job is to lead the city through the construction process as it happens.

He elaborated that the bidding process has shown promise this time around - as compared to the previous bidding process conducted last year - and that 31 contractors have submitted bidding inquiries to WHKS, some of them possibly subcontractors who wish to participate in the plant's construction. The council passed a resolution accepting the loans that have been issued to the city for the project.

Zoning and junk violations were addressed - particularly one involving the former Emery and Almeda Eickhoff house, where a family member had set up an office and put a business sign in the front yard without first applying for a zoning variance. A letter had been sent to the person operating the business from the house notifying her that the business could not remain at a residentially-zoned property, even though the property is adjacent to Wykoff's commercial district.

Grabau reported that the city had been advised by its attorney, Tom Manion, to issue that cease-and-desist letter and order the sign taken down, then take action to take the business proprietor to court if necessary. With the sale of the house, however, the business must relocate, solving the problem at hand.

The councilors also spoke about the junk ordinance violation at another property, as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) had contacted the county and the city to order cleanup at the site. The council talked about whether photographs had been taken of the property to prove in court that violations had occurred, and Vreeman observed, "The person has had letters sent to him, he's avoided everything, and I feel he should pay a fine."

Hare and the council chose to have the city clerk send another letter to the property owner, informing him of the city's intentions.