The Wykoff City Council met on February 8 in regular session, with all members in attendance: Mary Tjepkes, Rocky Vreeman, Mayor Al Williams, Clerk Becky Schmidt, Mary Sackett, and Brody Mensink.
In Old Business, the council discussed deciding upon a city attorney. Tom Manion has been Wykoff’s city attorney for many years, but the council wanted to “shop around.” Mayor Williams said one other attorney voiced an interest, but charges a higher rate than Manion. Williams pointed out that Manion has years of experience dealing with the issues Wykoff faces, which is an advantage compared to any other attorney that would start from scratch. Becky Schmidt stated that Manion has been very prompt in dealing with Wykoff’s questions as they arise. A motion was made to appoint Manion as the city attorney, but the motion died for lack of a second. Some council members asked to have a meeting with him to discuss concerns and questions, prior to appointing anyone as city attorney. The city will contact him to request such a meeting, possibly to be held February 28.
The council discussed rates for water shutoffs in winter. Mayor Williams explained that turning water back on in winter is much more labor-intensive than in warmer months, and he suggested setting a higher rate for winter. Rocky Vreeman suggested simply raising the rate overall. Becky Schmidt voiced her opinion that in winter months, residents are paying heating bills, and a higher cost to turn water back on would be “kicking them while they’re down.” After some discussion, the council chose to leave the rate unchanged for now. Schmidt shared that she now sends out a “pre-warning” letter about a month before the “shut-off letter”, and she said that’s been effective in decreasing the number of shut-offs required.
Fire Chief Wade Baker said he’s still taking applications for openings on the fire crew, and that he currently has six openings and seven applicants. He also asked the council to consider buying a new TV that the fire department could use for showing training videos. The council asked him to get pricing for the equipment needed, and to bring that information to the March council meeting.
The city is continuing to look into an issue involving grease buildup in the city’s sewer pipes. Mayor Williams said the city has been narrowing down the source of the grease, which coats the inside of the pipes, and if Wykoff needs to “televise” it to find out exactly where it’s coming from, that can happen when it’s been narrowed down to a specific city block. Mark Anrdt said the city checked with John Dols regarding the school, and found out that “he said twice a month they’re cooking sloppy joes, otherwise everything is cooked in the oven”, so the school does not appear to be the grease source. The council also discussed the amount of salt the city has been using on sidewalks, and suggested buying in bulk to get a better price. There was discussion about whether or not the city should offer to salt sidewalks for businesses that don’t get ice and snow cleared, but then there were concerns about liability, so the council chose to continue with the current expectation that all businesses and private properties are to clear and/or salt their own sidewalks as needed.
The council discussed allowing groups who hold a dance at the community center to serve alcohol. It was mentioned that from a liability angle, it is allowable as long as the renter has an insurance rider to cover themselves. The city will update the rental agreement to explain this.
Schmidt asked the council to consider purchasing a new software program (United Systems Technology “asyst for MS Office”) for the billing and accounts payable that she does. She explained why the current software is not satisfactory. She’ll bring more detailed information to the March meeting.
It was noted that the Historical Society will have a fundraiser event on March 6, and their annual meeting on March 20. The next regular meeting of the city council will be held on Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. The public is welcome.