By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board’s parks committee is expected to ask for about $10,000 more in the 2013 budget to cover the cost of wages, utilities and fuel.
The parks committee met October 1 to discuss the budget for the village’s parks and for Evergreen Cemetery and discovered that wages for full-time employees had not been included in the 2012 budget.
Village Trustee Chris Olson, chair of the parks committee, noted that Rand Bates, Colfax public works director, devotes a certain percentage of his time to the cemetery and to the village parks, and the budgets need to reflect that part of the public works director’s salary.
Wages for part-time employees were included in the budget, Olson said.
According to the summary, the budget for Evergreen Cemetery was a little over $19,000 for this year, and the request for next year is expected to be around $23,000.
The portion of Bates’ salary that would come under the cemetery portion of the budget would be around $4,300.
As of October 1, a little over $2,000 of the public works director’s salary had been paid under the cemetery budget, although the amount budgeted was zero.
Budgets for 2012 were developed last year during the transition period between interim clerk-treasurer Kathy Morse and former administrator-clerk-treasurer Tom Cogswell.
The 2013 cemetery budget will include $4,000 for outside services, but the cemetery budget will have to do short-term borrowing from the village for paying for surveying the cemetery, Olson said.
The village board accepted a bid from Cedar Corporation at the June 25 meeting for $8,000 for surveying the cemetery.
The cemetery will have to be surveyed before more lots can be sold, noted Village Trustee Richard Johnson, also a member of the parks committee.
The cemetery cannot be surveyed, however, until the Colfax School District finishes the necessary paperwork for transferring land from the school district to the cemetery, Olson said.
Jackie Ponto, administrator clerk-treasurer, said she had just sold several lots at the cemetery.
A few “safe” lots are still available, but the cemetery needs to be surveyed before other lots can be sold, Johnson said.
The parks committee met in June to discuss the additional acreage that the village had planned to use as a cemetery and discovered that Peoples State Bank had deeded 28 acres to the Colfax School District in 1943 to be used for a school forest.
According to the warranty deed, the land was to be used by the school district for “reforestation purposes,” and when the school district was no longer using the land for trees, the land could only be used for the cemetery.
Members of the Colfax Village Board had assumed that the transfer of ownership would be automatic after the school district had removed the trees but that turned out not to be the case.
Evergreen Cemetery is located in the Town of Colfax and not within the village limits.
The budget for the village’s parks reflects a similar circumstance for wages, Olson said..
According to the summary for the 2012 budget, no wages were included for the public works director, and wages for a part-time employee were more than $1,100 shy of what was actually paid as of October 1.
The public works director’s salary was a little over $3,000 as of October 1, but nothing was included in the budget for that line item.
The 2012 parks budget also was short on utilities, electricity and gas and oil, Olson said.
So far this year, $419 has been spent on sewer and water in the parks budget, but only $200 was budgeted, he said, adding that he planned to ask for $500 in the budget for 2013.
The majority of the sewer and water cost for this year was for the fairgrounds, and more specifically, for the Colfax Free Fair in June, Olson said.
The utilities are the village’s contribution toward the fair, he said.
Bates pointed out that some of the water used at the fair is for washing cattle and hogs and for drinking water for livestock and other animals.
The parks electricity budget was short about $1,500 this year, with electricity costs at nearly $3,100 on October 1 with a budget of $2,000 for the year.
Much of the parks’ electricity budget is for the ball field lights at Tom Prince Memorial Park, although some of it is for the fairgrounds, Olson said.
Gas and oil was budgeted at $300 for this year, and as of October 1, $292 had been spent. Olson said he planned to ask for $1,000 next year to cover increased fuel costs and an increase in the number of times that grass is mowed.
This year, especially later in the summer, little mowing was necessary because of the dry weather conditions, he noted.
A total of $21,815 was budgeted for parks for 2012. The 2013 total could be closer to $30,000.
Olson reminded committee members that the village board sets the budget, and that the actual amount budgeted for 2013 could be less than the amount requested by the committee.
In addition to Olson and Johnson, Village Trustee Beverly Schauer serves on the parks committee.
In other business, the Colfax Parks Committee approved an amount of $1,326.25 as the Colfax Softball Association’s share of utilities and maintenance for Tom Prince Memorial Park for 2012.
The agreement that the softball association pays half of the maintenance and utilities goes back many years, Olson said.
This year’s expenses for the ball field included nearly $1,000 to Greener Grass Services for blowing out the water lines and maintaining the sprinkler system.
Bates said that he and the other village employees have the knowledge and expertise to change the sprinkler heads and blow out the lines so they do not freeze over winter.
Olson noted that the contract with Greener Grass would have to be terminated.
The last item of business for the parks committee was to review a list of 72 tasks assigned to the public works department.
The list includes 23 different areas for mowing and the frequency with which they should be mowed, such as every ten days at the lift station on state Highway 170, North Dam Park and Stewart Park; every 14 days along Railroad Avenue and by the water tower; every 30 days for the fairgrounds and the walkway along Eighteen Mile Creek.
Other tasks in April or May include pressure washing the stage and pavilions at the fairgrounds and pressure washing the concession stands and bathrooms at the ball field.
Additional tasks in April and May included turning on the power and the water lines at the fairgrounds and the ball field.
“As needed” tasks include cleaning and inspecting the play equipment at all the parks; pulling weeds and raking sand boxes in the parks; trimming trees in the parks.