By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Fire Board has good news to report.
The budget and the tax levy for the Colfax Community Fire Department will be slightly less for 2013.
The Colfax Fire Board held their annual budget meeting October 15 and approved a tax levy of $94,700, which is $200 less than the levy for 2012.
The total budget for 2013 is about $2,000 less than the 2012 budget.
“Anytime you can go to the taxpayers and say the levy is staying the same, that’s a good thing,” said Gary Bjork, representing the Town of Colfax.
The Colfax fire district includes the Town of Colfax, the Town of Grant, the Town of Otter Creek and the Village of Colfax.
The tax levy is based on a budget of $110,700 for 2013, which compares to a budget of $112,060 for 2012.
Equalized value in the fire district for 2012 is about $4 million less than for 2011 and stands at $180.4 million for 2012, compared to an equalized value of $184 million for 2011.
According to budget figures provided to the fire board, out of the four municipalities, only the Town of Colfax experienced an increase in equalized value, going from $68.7 million in 2011 to $69.1 million in 2012, an increase of about $436,000.
Equalized value in the Village of Colfax for 2012 is $42.4 million, compared to $43.8 million in 2011, representing a decrease of about $1.4 million.
Equalized value in the Town of Grant for 2012 is $33.2 million, compared to $34 million in 2011, representing a decrease of about $870,000.
Equalized value in the Town of Otter Creek for 2012 is $35.7 million, compared to $37.5 million for 2011, representing a decrease of about $1.75 million.
The Town of Colfax will pay a fire district levy of $36,000. The Village of Colfax will pay $22,254. The Town of Grant will pay $17,424, and the Town of Otter Creek will pay $18,750.
The levy of $94,700 for 2013 compares to a levy of $94,900 for 2012, a levy of $92,000 for 2011, and a levy of $90,400 for 2010.
Compared to the equalized value in 2010, in the last two years, the Town of Colfax has lost $5 million in value, the Village of Colfax has lost $7 million, the Town of Grant has lost $2.5 million and the Town of Otter Creek has lost $6 million.
New fire station
According to a spreadsheet devoted to construction costs for the new fire station on county Highway M, the total construction cost was $768,998.42.
The original estimate from Ratsch Engineering was $747,039.
Payments for each of the municipalities were based on the percentage of equalized value in 2010.
The Town of Colfax paid $223,146 for the new fire station, which was offset by a payment of about $90,000 as the township’s share for the sale price of the old fire station and rescue squad property.
The Town of Colfax’s total cost for the fire station was actually about $134,000, which was $65,000 less than the original estimate.
Cedar Country Cooperative purchased the old fire station and rescue squad property for $240,000 at auction in April.
The Village of Colfax paid $145,607, which was offset by a payment of about $44,000 as the village’s share for the old fire station and rescue squad.
The Village of Colfax’s total cost for the new fire station was about $86,600, which was $44,000 less than the initial estimate.
The Town of Otter Creek paid $118,380 for the new fire station, which was offset by a payment of about $49,000 for the old fire station.
The Town of Otter Creek’s total cost was around $69,000, which was $35,000 less than the original estimate.
The Town of Grant paid $104,768 for the new fire station, which was offset by a payment of about $42,000 for the old fire station.
The Town of Grant’s total cost was around $63,000, which was $30,000 less that the original estimate.
In other business at the fire district’s annual meeting, the Colfax Fire Board authorized sending two people to Pennsylvania to inspect a used pumper tanker truck, and if deemed suitable, to purchase the truck for a cost of up to $98,000.
The Colfax Fire Department currently has $109,000 in the vehicle replacement account.
The truck is a 1994 model with a 2000 gallon tank and has 239 hours on the engine and 77 hours on the pump, reported Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief.
“The only bad thing is it’s out in Pennsylvania,” he said, noting that the old tanker truck is in poor condition.
“Every time you take it out, you’ve got to fix something on it,” Logslett said.
Several fire board members wondered about other equipment needs in the near future.
Logslett said the department could be looking at purchasing a new fire engine in seven or eight years.
By that time, the vehicle replacement fund will have additional money, he said.
The 2013 budget includes $20,000 to put be in savings for vehicle purchases.
Fire chief’s report
In his report, Logslett noted that the Colfax Fire Department went on 28 runs as of October: grass fires (4) (two in Otter Creek and two in the Town of Colfax); structure fires (2) (one in Otter Creek and one in the Village of Colfax); false alarms (5) (three at Colfax Health and Rehab; two at the Chris Menard property); down power line (4) (one in the Town of Otter Creek; two in the Village of Colfax); car accidents (7) (six in the Town of Colfax; one in the Town of Otter Creek); missing person (2); pool fills (4) (one in the Village of Colfax; three in the Town of Colfax).
The Colfax Fire Department provided mutual aid to the Boyceville department twice and received mutual aid three times.
In addition, the Colfax Fire Department provided mutual aid to Menomonie eight times and received aid once; provided aid to Elk Mound two times and received mutual aid two times; provided no mutual assistance to Ridgeland but received mutual aid once; provided mutual aid to the Chippewa fire district once and received mutual aid once; and received mutual aid from Sand Creek twice.
Mandatory testing and certification cost $18,782, including $1,200 for air pack testing; $840 for hose testing; $1,500 for ladder testing; $1,250 for face piece testing; $560 for engine testing; $150 for CO2 testing; $500 for air bottles; $5,280 for training nights; $5,280 for meeting nights; $1,200 for fire inspections; $1,000 for fire prevention.
In 2012, the Colfax Fire Department had 524 fire hours; 78 EMS hours (for car accidents); 219 mutual aid hours; 305 training hours; 212 meeting hours; 133 special duty hours (moving into the new building).
The Colfax Fire Board also learned at the October 15 meeting that the Colfax Fire Department plans to hold an open house at the new fire station on Saturday, October 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.