Call for audit divides Wykoff

By John Weiss

WYKOFF -- Fifty-four Wykoff residents have signed a petition asking for a state audit of the city's books for the past six years because of questions about the sale of some city lots and other transactions.

The petition was collected in the Fillmore County town of about 500 in the past month.

A spokeswoman for the State Auditor's Office on Friday could not confirm whether the petition was received or what was happening with it.


The petition gives no hint at specifics. It only says that the people want the audit for the past six years.

Three people who signed it and who were contacted at random didn't say why they signed. One said it was personal and that he hasn't quite caught up with the facts yet. Another said, "I don't know; I really don't know." And a third said she wasn't supposed to discuss it.

But Randy Mensink, a former member of the Wykoff City Council who ran for mayor two years ago and narrowly lost, said he signed, and thinks others signed, because of a street project the city did and because of questions about some financial dealings.

In the past, the city didn't assess adjacent property owners for some of the cost of curb and gutter but, this time, it did, he said.

Another woman said she was assessed for her entire frontage, though only half was done this time. "I could certainly see her beef with it," Mensink said.

The other concern was the business ethics of the city, he said. The city allegedly has sold some lots below market value, Mensink said, including one to the brother of Mayor Leroy Eickhoff.

No one is saying that anyone is fudging the books or anything like that, he said. But some people wonder about what is going on and want to let a state audit clear the air.

Eickhoff responded that he and the council have done nothing wrong. "It's a sad deal," he said. "I think there are some misinformed people."


Some people signed because they heard rumors, but Eickhoff said they later called him to apologize, saying they wish they hadn't signed. Those rumors "are about 180 degrees off," he said.

One lot was sold to his brother and another to a brother-in-law, Eickhoff said "but everything was done at council meetings." People didn't come to meetings to find out the truth, he said.

As for the curb and gutter, in past years, Wykoff was able to get grants and use some city money to pay for them, but this time, outside grants dried up so the city had to assess some of the costs to adjacent landowners, he said.

Property he owns had some of the highest assessments, he said.

He isn't sure how much the audit will cost, but Wykoff's annual audit costs about $6,400, he said.

He said it wouldn't help to hold a public meeting and let people learn what he and other city officials had to say.

"They aren't going to believe that, no matter what we say," he said. So it's better to have the audit, if the state accepts the petition.

"If that is what the people want, …; I hope they are satisfied," said Eickhoff, who has been mayor 18 years but decided about a year ago not to run again.


The issue has caused a rift in Wykoff, he said. "It is dividing the community; it has divided some people," he said. "But I don't think it's going to be a long-term deal."

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