The Wykoff City Council met in regular session on March 11. Members in attendance included Lyle Morey, Mary Tjepkes, Mayor Al Williams, City Clerk Becky Schmidt, and Richard Gleason. Also attending was Assistant Clerk Luann Hare. Mary Sackett was absent.
One of the most significant issues discussed was the possible upgrading of the city’s water meter reading equipment and software. Becky Schmidt explained that when Mayor Williams recently went around to read meters, he discovered the device is having a lot of problems, and a job that could have taken one hour ended up taking three hours.
“The screen is bad in the reader,” Schmidt explained, “I have to send it in, it’s going to take four to six weeks to repair the screen, with a hefty repair bill. Or we can buy a new handheld, which is $15,000, which in two years will be outdated. Or we can go with $55,000 worth of new equipment to read meters. Basically, we have to do something.”
She explained that the city could buy new “sending units” to be installed on top of the current meters, at a cost of around $43,000. The city would also need a collector, on top of the water tower. She said the collector would be continually reading meters, which would save labor every month by not sending staff around town to read meters. The software and training brings the total cost to roughly $55,000. Wade Baker said, “I know Chatfield has the same system that we’re talking about, and they also said they can catch leaks.” The council discussed that this would be a great benefit to any citizen or business, by preventing ongoing leaks from creating huge water bills. Schmidt said the city has $65,000 in the Reserve Fund, which could be used for this system. She said this would save having to put the cost on to taxpayers. After discussion, the council voted to do this.
Andrew Forliti, representing the accounting firm of Smith Schafer & Associates, gave the council a summary of the recent financial audit of the city. His report included that Smith Schafer issued an unmodified “clean” opinion, and that they found no Minnesota legal compliance issues. He went through a packet of graphs and data, showing the findings. Property tax revenues were 38% of Wykoff’s total governmental revenues in 2018, and Local Government Aid was 27%. The city has a balance of just under $182,000 in the Capital Improvement Fund.
Forliti also stated that the city’s water fund rates are sufficient to cover operating expenses, but the sewer fund continues to run a deficit due to costs exceeding revenues. Financial consultant Mike Bubany had suggested raising the rate by at least 4%. Schmidt said the city is also looking at ways to cut expenses for the sewer fund. After several suggested rate increases, the council voted to increase the base rate by $5 per month, effective July 1.
Two names were added to the Zoning Board (Lyman Hare and Randy Mensink), and Eugene Sexton was approved to fill the city’s vacancy in maintenance. The council passed the resolution to accept the donation of property from the Kingsland School District.
Missy Musel addressed the council regarding snow removal on the street where she lives. She stated that the street needs to be plowed wider to allow two lanes of traffic safely. Mayor Williams said he would go check it out and see what can be done.
Fire Chief Wade Baker updated the council on equipment recently received by the fire department, including the thermal imaging camera (which he said was used in a recent fire) and the turnout gear that had been ordered. The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m. The council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, April 8 at 7 p.m.