By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has approved borrowing $1.3 million to refinance old debt and for new money for Park Drive and the village’s share of the fire station.
Refinancing the village’s long-term debt will eliminate the balloon payments that come with the existing debt, said Brian Reilly of Ehlers and Associates, the village’s financial consultant, at the Colfax Village Board’s December 10 meeting.
The village can combine new borrowing with refinancing and manage the tax impact at the same time, he said.
Colfax will raise the money to refinance existing debt and for the other projects by selling general obligation bonds.
The $160,000 intended for Park Drive is listed on the resolution as “street improvement projects,” so that if the entire amount is not needed for Park Drive, the village could use it for other street projects, Reilly said.
The resolution for selling general obligation bonds to finance the village’s share of the new fire station is for $90,000.
Colfax is catching the right part of the financing cycle and is still fairly strong on borrowing capacity, Reilly said.
“You’ve been good stewards,” he said.
After refinancing and borrowing new money, the village will have a remaining borrowing capacity of 40 percent, Reilly said.
Gary Stene, village president, noted that the village’s current borrowing capacity would be 40 percent, but then, after five years of paying on the debt, would perhaps be at 60 percent.
At that point, could the village borrow more money to move the village forward on economic development? Stene wondered.
Long range planning would be beneficial for Colfax, Reilly said.
The last five-year long-range plan was completed in 2002 or 2004, he said.
“You need cohesive planning on a three- to five-year basis,” Reilly said.
Stene said he envisioned the village purchasing land to help with economic development.
“We need to leverage ourselves to buy land to help attract business or residential. If we don’t do that, we are no different than we are now,” he said.
Villages and cities that are ready to go when the economy comes back will be that much farther ahead, Stene said.
Reilly agreed, but also noted that the village needs an approach that is not too far in the future and, instead, sets goals and objectives for three years to five years.
Reilly recommended that the village board review the old five-year plan.
Discussing the previous plan would be beneficial for the board, he said.
“More information, discussion and understanding helps the process,” Stene said.
Completing financial plans is time consuming, but it also helps determine what a community wants, Reilly noted.
In addition to the resolution for borrowing $160,000 for street improvements by issuing general obligation bonds and $90,000 for the fire station, the Colfax Village board approved a resolution for refinancing $1.085 million.
As for revenue bonds for the sewer utility, Reilly said the village needed more concrete numbers on costs for improvements to the wastewater treatment facility and more information on the revenue generated by the 2012 rate increases before deciding whether to issue revenue bonds.
The utilities for the Park Drive project also are not funded right now, but the village could do short-term borrowing to pay for the utilities and then finance the improvements later, Reilly said.
The official statement on issuing the general obligation bonds will be released the week of January 7.
The village board will award the sale of the bonds at the January 14 meeting.
The estimated closing date on the bonds is expected to be February 6.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved bartender operator licenses for Peggy D. Richards, Mark A. Johnson, and Linda E. Henthorn for Lynn’s Brewed Awakenings.
• Approved a change order for A-1 Excavating in the amount of $1,500 for the Park Drive extension because of additional manhole work and a three-foot difference in elevation.
• Approved a pay request for Ayres Associates in the amount of $132,294.63 for the Park Drive extension. No more pay applications will be received over the winter, and work on the project will begin again next spring, said Lisa Fleming, a project manager with Ayres. Paving the Park Drive extension will occur sometime after May 15, she noted.
• Learned that the village had received a letter from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office stating that during an investigation, three establishments in Colfax sold alcohol to one of the minors assisting the sheriff’s department and that the liquor license holders were cited: Colfax Cenex; Kyle’s Market; Colfax Express Mart. “This is their first violation within the last twelve months. No monetary fine or license suspension will be ordered,” the letter states.