Wykoff City Council met on March 13 at 7 p.m. Two topics were open for public comment – discussion on chicken ordinances and discussion on utility rate increases. No citizens had comments. Mayor Breckenridge called the meeting to order and led in the Pledge of Allegience. The evening’s agenda was approved with no additions or changes. Going over the consent agenda the council approved bill payments, including the town’s insurance bill. Treasurer Rebecca Schmidt reported that the town’s insurance bill was up $4,000. She relayed that Fountain’s insurance costs have also gone up thousands of dollars, so the rate increase isn’t surprising.
Wastewater treatment plant
Rick Whitney gave his report to the council regarding the town’s wastewater treatment plant. According to Whitney it was a quiet month. No violations have been reported. The Minnesota Department of Health does regular inspections of the state’s wastewater treatment plants. The inspection has been scheduled for next week.
Fire Chief Wade Baker was not present to give a report. Earlier on the day of the meeting, there was a residential fire in town. The council took time to thank the first responders for their prompt response. Spring Valley, Fountain, Stewartville, and Chatfield fire departments assisted in responding and putting out the blaze. Thanks also goes out to the sheriff’s office and citizens who offered food and water to the first responders.
Wykoff held an online poll to gauge citizens’ interest in allowing chickens. The poll showed 29 in favor of allowing chickens and 15 against. Council member’s concerns included the foul smell, potential vermin, and who will enforce ordinance violations. Councilor Jeff Hare stated that violations could be found during the yearly reapplication process. A motion was made to vote to allow a chicken ordinance. The motion was seconded, and the council approved. Hare will prepare an ordinance to be presented at next month’s meeting.
Next on the agenda was incentives for new home buyers. Council member Jeff Hare has had informal meetings to get incentive ideas. Some potential ones are a tax abatement program, or waiving fees for sewer and/or water hookups. The mayor thanked Hare for getting the ball rolling on this. Mayor Breckenridge suggested the council could attend Chatfield’s next EDA meeting to brainstorm incentives.
The council went over a potential ad with Mower County Independent newspaper. The large ad would cost approximately $420 and would show the town’s summer recreation guide. The council discussed if it’d be more worthwhile to continue advertising with Visit Bluff Country. Council member Barb Fate proposed that taking both ads could be beneficial. Treasurer Rebecca Schmidt responded, saying that taking both ads would go over the town’s advertising budget. The council decided to alternate between the publications each year.
Recently a car was left on the street and obstructed the town’s snow removal. It was found that the sheriff’s office was unable to ticket the car’s owner because some ordinances hadn’t been filed with the state. The council worked with the town’s lawyer to send in their traffic codes to the state. The board voted and approved of the State of Minnesota Joint Powers Agreement. This will allow the local police department access to state databases. There was also discussion to put up one or more “Vehicle Noise Ordinance Enforced” signs on the roads going into town. More research will be done on costs and placement. Rebecca Schmidt added that if a citizen wants to report a vehicle noise violation they should call the sheriff’s department, not the city.
The council took time to discuss ash tree problems. An estimated 30-40 ash trees around town are dead or dying. Cutting down all of the trees right now would go over the year’s tree budget. More research will be done into if there’s any DNR funding available.
Finally, the League of Minnesota Cities annual conference is coming up in June. Council members Jeff Hare and Barb Fate offered to attend. Rebecca Schmidt said she’d been to the conference in 2017 and it was more geared towards large cities, and it may not be a worthwhile expense. Council member Kaleb Himli shared that much of the information that may be provided is available for free online.
Wykoff’s next city council meeting is scheduled for April 10 at 7 p.m.