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Wykoff city attorney sits in on council meeting

Fri, Aug 15th, 2014
Posted in Wykoff Government

The Wykoff City Council meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 11. All previous minutes were approved, including minutes from a special meeting held on August 6 pertaining to employee PTO.

Fire Chief Wade Baker brought the attention of the council to the matter of fire extinguishers located at the Community Center. While the extinguishers are fully charged, they are tagged mostly from 1992 and 1993. Baker suggested he check with Fire Safety USA, out of Rochester, to inquire about servicing the extinguishers. He explained the company has a remote truck to service equipment in surrounding communities. The council granted Baker permission to proceed with collecting information.

Councilwoman Larson-Lund posed a question to her constituents concerning one of her roles in Community Education. Larson-Lund asked for duty clarification and cited she had read through council minutes all the way back into the 1970’s and had found nothing on community education. Councilman Grabau offered suggestions such as National Night Out.

Resident Brody Mensink was the first visitor on the docket. Mensink mentioned he had attended the last council meeting and Councilwoman Larson-Lund had stated she had copies of the minutes he had asked for, he again asked her if she had found them. Larson-Lund told Mensink she was making copies and would make sure he received them.

Mensink also stated he had received a letter a few days after the previous council meeting with the names of the job applicants [for the city’s maintenance position] he had requested. He explained he had asked why these were denied prior and read the response, “Per our city attorney….request for information must be submitted in writing.” Mensink asked if that went for everyone and for everything, including ordinances, minutes, etc. Attorney Manion explained to Mensink this was advised to allow a paper trail. If someone requested information, did not receive it and contacted the state, the state would ask for proof of the request. He also explained that not all information is public information so this also protects the city so they may know specifically what is being requested. Manion suggested the city have a policy to request information. Mensink asked if applicants for city jobs were public information, Manion told him it would depend on what it is and where they are at in the process. He explained there were data privacy limitations concerning applicant information. Mensink stated he was asking for the names of individuals being interviewed only after they were selected. He then asked Manion if he had to request everything in writing from here on out. Manion, after a lengthy explanation, said he had told the city it would be a good ‘policy’ to have.

Brody Mensink then asked if there was a way to make council minutes available for the public in perhaps a book or binder. Clerk Davis told him she already had them in a binder. Mensink also asked about a special meeting information he had inquired about and Clerk Davis had told him she wasn’t sure if it was public information. Manion interjected and said she wasn’t sure because sometimes things are public information and at times they are not, which is why he suggested the policy of written request. At that point, it can be determined exactly what someone is asking for with clarification and the burden is then on the city to provide the requested information.

Mayor Comstock also had a few questions for Attorney Manion. He first asked if Manion knew of any other cities that had their attorney present at council meetings. Manion had made a list of cities he was familiar with and read them off, citing that less than half did have their attorney present. These cities included, but were not limited to, Lanesboro, Rushford Village and Harmony. There were also cities that did not, including Fountain, Ostrander and Wykoff. Councilman Grabau contributed he had called surrounding communities, even in a few different counties and he found that maybe 15 percent had an attorney present.

The mayor then asked Manion what rate he would charge if he were to sit in on meetings. Manion replied, “I would be charging you $100 per hour.” He explained some cities pay a retainer, others by the other; it just depends. Manion said if he goes to meetings, he does not charge travel time.

Dan Schmidt also visited the council to inquire about stump removals in town. He cited two locations and asked if he could be considered to hire for removal. The council asked about rates; Schmidt told them most people charge $2 per inch and he came in a little less than that. It was decided Schmidt would remove the stump in the Bicknese Park.

It was decided Clerk Davis would visit the property owned by Casey Bates to see if Bates had complied with the nuisance letters he had received as well as letters concerning zoning. If not, the council will proceed with further action.

Fall Fest committee member, Eva Barr, had written a letter to the city asking for permission for an activity that included a run route in town. The council advised the committee check with law enforcement for route information, after which time the council will be better informed of any laws or rules and be able to make a decision.

The new parking lot, north of the fire hall, was also a topic of discussion. Initially the city considered dividing the lot and leaving basketball hoops up. Mayor Comstock had contacted the city’s insurance company and was advised against doing so as a matter of safety. Comstock explained a vehicle could back out and not see a child chasing a ball, posing a potential accident, as well as basketballs hitting and damaging cars. It was advised to either make it a parking lot or a basketball court. There was discussion about how to do both safely. Councilman Grabau felt it was better served as a basketball court for the youth, as the youth needed areas to keep them busy. In the end it was decided to convert it to all parking. The council voted 3-1 to do so, Grabau opposed.

Delinquent fire call bills were discussed for three residents: Casey Bates, Mitch Horsman and Virgil Eickhoff. Fire Chief Baker explained the insurance companies for Horsman and Eickhoff denied payment because the city did not have an ordinance for fire calls at the time of these fires. The city has since adopted an ordinance but Baker suggested Clerk Davis send out a final notice bill and explain this.

Mayor Comstock mentioned CHS (the elevator on the northeast side of town) would be removing a dryer and replacing it. CHS will also be closing off their north drive in attempts to control the bee’s wings from drying in hopes to appease area residents who have dealt with the mess. He commended CHS for their efforts.

In other new business, two dates for the budget meeting were suggested; August 27 and September 3. The final date will be decided after the availability of the city’s accountant is known. Mayor Comstock also inquired about repairs to a bathroom in the Community Center, mentioning to Al Williams it had been about six months and it still was not repaired. Williams told the council he has kept inquiring with Sheldon Plumbing and Heating in Spring Valley and they have yet to show up and fix it. Williams was advised to call again and if Sheldon’s did not comply, to look elsewhere.

The council was informed a private citizen, who wishes to remain anonymous, has offered to pay the taxes on land recently donated to the city. The council and mayor wish to thank this individual for their generous gift.

It was decided a deposit will be enforced for the Community Center. The deposit will be $50 per side or $100 for the rental of the entire building. A checklist will be given to renters that will include garbage removal, table take down and various other things that must be completed before their deposit is returned.

The council approved the purchase of a new front end loader/tractor for $49,721. The purchase price reflects a warranty. A camera will also be purchased for $350, which include the labor to mount it, that will be used for safety when maneuvering the machine.


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10:48:03, Aug 15th 2014

Retired says:
A quick google search offers numerous ideas for community education. Knitting, CPR Classes, Gardening, Woodworking, DIY on minor home repairs, Technology, etc. (Nothing could be found about community education from the past?) So because it wasn't done before, the city should never do it? Why have a parking lot for the community center, that wasn't there before? The city does not have to stay the exact same forever. Why not give an opportunity to the people in Wykoff a chance to maybe learn something new, or find a hobby they enjoy, all while coming together as a community to get to know each other better and share their experiences. Instead of asking, why do something now, when we have never done it before? The city should be asking, why have we never offered this before, and what can we do for the children, the retired people, and the young families that they might be interested in?

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