By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Village residents can probably agree that many of the streets in Colfax need serious work.
The Colfax Village Board’s streets committee met September 9 to discuss a five-year capital improvement plan for street work at a total cost of around $1.3 million.
The plan lists Third Avenue from Park Drive to Dunn Street (including water, sewer and curb) as the 2014 street project at a cost of $311,261.
The street for 2015 is Fourth Avenue from Park Drive to Dunn Street (water, sewer and curb) at a cost of $299,596.
Fourth Avenue has a problem with a dip in the sewer line that is likely the cause of sewer back-ups in the area, said Rand Bates, director of public works.
Bates said he was of the opinion that Fourth Avenue should be reconstructed before Third Avenue.
Rick Johnson, village trustee and chair of the streets committee, said the Third Avenue project should wait because of the Tax Increment Financing District.
Third Avenue would be considered a “source street” for sewer and water for any development east of Dunn Street, and the TIF district was amended to include Third Avenue for that very reason, Johnson said.
Third Avenue would be eligible for TIF upgrades, so why spend $300,000 on Third Avenue first when Fourth Avenue is not in the TIF district? he asked.
Johnson noted that the streets committee had also previously agreed to do small projects for two or three years to save money to put toward bigger projects.
Bates pointed out that so much street work is needed, it would be beneficial to get going on it as soon as possible.
The list of street projects is for the next five years, but even if the first project is not completed next year, and the projects are delayed by a year or two, the village still has a list of projects and still has a plan, Bates said.
The committee had initially discussed doing patches on streets instead of entire street projects, but Bates said he was in favor of doing streets rather than patches.
Patching has been completed on the worst stretches of the village streets, he noted.
Street committee members agreed that it might be best to switch Third Avenue to 2015 and Fourth Avenue to 2014.
Other projects in the five-year plan are Roosevelt Street for 2016 from Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue (including water, sewer and curb) at a cost of $234,095.
Pine Street for 2017 from First Street to Railroad Avenue (water, sewer and curb) for $240,425
Cedar Street for 2018 from River Street to Railroad Avenue (water, sewer and curb) for $202,948.
Ponto suggested that it would be worthwhile to have Don Logslett, street supervisor, and Lisa Fleming, the village’s street engineer with Ayres’ Associates, at the next streets committee meeting.
Bates wondered what happens to surplus funds from the street budget and why the extra money in the general fund balance cannot be used for street projects.
The village board would have to authorize transferring the surplus back to streets from the general fund, Johnson said.
Beverly Schauer, village trustee and a member of the streets committee, pointed out that the village board has never transferred a surplus back to streets, although the surplus could be used for streets.
“Once it is in the general fund, we have never taken it out to do the streets. Maybe we should take it out for the streets … it seems like once it is in the general fund, we can never get it back,” she said.
The auditors have said that the village does not need as much money in the general fund as is being kept in the general fund, Bates said.
“We should not have that much money … can’t we put that money to good use?” Bates asked.
The auditors have said the village is better off not taking money out of the general fund, Johnson replied.
The village’s financial consultants have said the general fund only needs a year’s worth of tax levy in reserve, and if there is more than that, village residents will wonder why they are being taxed for that amount and why the village is holding the money and not using it, said Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
The village has other projects to pay for, such as cleaning the municipal building basement, and the streets committee needs more discussion on what to do with the streets, Johnson said.
“It’s not about spending the money, but there are (street) projects that need to be done. I hear about it all the time,” Bates said.
The streets committee also reviewed the proposed budget for 2014 of $347,175.
The proposed budget is about $25,000 more than the 2013 budget and includes $150,000 for capital outlay for streets.