Colfax transfers $120,000 in leftover money to street fund

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  The Colfax Village Board now has a designated fund for street improvements.

“You have been talking about it since this summer but a formal designated fund has never been created,” said Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s December 9 meeting.

A designated fund is a savings account created for a specific purpose, she noted.

 “This year we had quite a bit of money left over in some of the funds because we didn’t use (the money). It is better to put the funds in a designated account for a designated purpose than to leave (the money) out there as undesignated, which looks bad to the public,” Ponto said.

Mark Halpin, village trustee, wondered if, in the past, any leftover money just “rolled over” into the undesignated fund balance.

“Yes,” Ponto said.

The Village of Colfax has about $700,000 in undesignated funds and has another $450,000 in designated funds that the village board has collected tax money for over the years but that has never been spent on the items for which it was intended.

The amount of money left over from the 2013 budget was $119,825.97.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion to create a designated fund for street improvements and to transfer a total of $119,825.97 into the street improvements fund.

The transfer of money was broken down as follows:

• $5,000 from parks (technical supplies).

• $4,631 from parks (repairs; maintenance; buildings; grounds).

• $4,788 from urban development (outside services).

• $7,800 street maintenance wages for part-time employees who do not receive retirement benefits.

• $15,214 from street maintenance (repairs).

• $13,750 from street maintenance (outside services).

• $5,099 from street maintenance (outside services pertaining to storm sewers).

• $3,000 from street maintenance (outside services for sidewalks).

• $2,500 from street maintenance (outside services for curb and gutter).

• $58,043.97 for capital outlay (local streets).

The $58,043.97 was included in the previous total of $453,227 for designated funds.

Fourth Street

The Colfax Village Board also approved moving forward with the design phase of the Fourth Street project at the December 9 meeting.

Lisa Fleming, an engineer with Ayres Associates, talked about the design phase.

Ayres has a contract with the village and has already completed the survey work for Fourth Street and other streets in the area that are on the five-year street improvement plan, Fleming said.

The next phase of the project is to do the design for Fourth Street from Park Drive to Dunn Street for $24,000, she said.

If the village board decides not to do the actual construction on Fourth Street next year, the design will at least be completed, Fleming said.

The initial cost estimate for Fourth Street is $300,000, but once the design phase is at least fifty percent complete, Fleming said she would be able to give a more accurate cost estimate for the project.

The advantage to doing the design even if the project is delayed another year, “is you stay a year ahead on your design. If you design Third Street while you are constructing Fourth Street, if some kind of program comes along, you guys are in the catbird seat,” she said, noting that during the Great Recession, those communities that had projects ready to go received money that was available.

“You just never know what will show up,” she said.

The only risk would be if halfway through the design of Fourth Street, Third Street fell apart, then suddenly the village would have to switch gears, Fleming said.

If the village is not going to do the construction on Fourth Street this spring, Fleming said she will start the design in February or March and will finalize the design in the fall.

The project could be advertised for bids in November or December, and the village would still get good bids because contractors would be thinking about work for the next year, Fleming said.

Scott Gunnufson, village president, wondered what would happen if the village board decides to do the project next year.

The design could be pushed along, but as long as Colfax is not sure about doing the project next year, “I was not going to put it as number one on the list,” Fleming said.

Several village board members said they thought the board had decided to do the Fourth Street project next year.

“It’s a long-term plan, but we have to look at what we have to borrow to finish the project … we have to look at the water and sewer. We have to have enough revenue there to fund the project, or we will have to borrow it and pay ourselves back,” said Rick Johnson, village trustee and chair of the streets committee.

“We have to look at the final numbers to see where the money is coming from … I don’t think we’re at the point where we will say we will borrow no matter what. We have to look at the interest rates … we have to see what the water and sewer looks like,” Gunnufson said.

The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved moving forward with the design phase for the Fourth Street project.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Approved a bartender operator’s license for Samantha Larson from December 9, 2013, to June 30, 2014.

• Approved a list of election inspectors that included the following people: Joyce Bates; Ethel Frogner; David Frogner; Diane Hodgson; Meredith Ingram; Loretta Logslett; Kathy Mitchell; Hazel Obermueller; George Richards.