Wykoff's city council dealt with more news related to its new wastewater treatment plant plans last Monday, Dec. 9, as Kevin Graves, of WHKS, informed the councilors and mayor that the project is on track and that bids could be taken in January.

"You're still on track for the schedule...you can advertise for bids in January and open them in February. There's been a round of revisions from Rural Development - we got their comments, and we're hoping to finalize the numbers on the loan and grant package tomorrow," he said. "We're hoping to hear back tomorrow. The discussion has been positive."

Mayor Lyman Hare seemed pleased to hear the news after the project had gotten off its original schedule by approximately a year, causing delays in the bidding process.

"This is great news," he stated as Graves rounded up his report, which included the extension of a Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grant to the end of 2014 instead of 2013, a statement verified as fact by Michelle Vrieze of CEDA, the economic development authority handling Wykoff's grant application.

Also present at the meeting was Steve Bushman, a retired wastewater treatment plant operator with plant operation experience gained in Mankato and St. Peter, Minn. He has a class B wastewater plant operator's license, something that the city is seeking as part of the new plant's startup.

Graves related that the city must have a wastewater treatment plant operator with a class B license in its employ or under a consultation contract 60 days before the plant opens.

Bushman's knowledge of plant operation could serve the city well, said Graves, as he offered to either serve as a consultant to the city, since retiring city maintenance foreman Al Williams can operate the new plant with his class D license and supervision from a class B license holder, or as its temporary wastewater plant operator, visiting the plant four to five days a month and spending six to eight hours there. The city had received two applications for the wastewater treatment plant operator's position, but both applicants did not meet qualifications.

Bushman encouraged the council to embrace the idea that any applicant who wishes to settle in the Wykoff area and maintain the plant will likely require a $60,000 or greater salary due to the nature of the occupation. He concluded that he will be available for the city's consideration if the council chooses to employ him, even if he has another part-time job.

Police contract

In other matters, the city then renewed its police contract with the county - Fillmore County deputies will patrol Wykoff two hours a day, stopping into town when passing by at various times during the day and night - at $24,000 per year, the same amount paid 21 years ago for four hours of patrolling. The council reserved the option of examining the perpetually-renewing contract each January to determine whether it fits the city's needs.

Levy, budget

Councilors approved the final 2014 budget and property tax levy, setting the property tax levy at $159,608, a 3.5 percent increase from last year's levy of $154,248. No adjustments were made to the capital outlay fund, even though city clerk Cheryl Davis inquired as to whether the council wished to move some funds to another account.

"Last year, in the general fund, we committed $70,000 toward street improvement projects and $70,000 toward the wastewater treatment plant. We used $8,500 for street sealing...do we want to change that?" she asked.

Councilman Jeremy Comstock made a motion to keep the amounts the same, as the city continues to work on funding both the streets and the new wastewater treatment plant. The 2013 audit report from Smith Schafer was approved as well.

Other business

Lastly, Shooter's On and Off Sale's liquor license was renewed, the council reviewed delinquent utility accounts that have been sent to the county to be certified on property owners' taxes, and councilors determined that while the Wykoff Community Center's microwave is indeed not missing, a new one for $49 might be better than the malfunctioning one found in the closet there.