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Colfax approves new library referendum questions

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  — As they say — the third time’s a charm.

The Colfax Village Board approved yet another set of advisory referendum questions at the February 9 meeting about the Colfax Public Library, the clerk’s office and the Colfax Police Department for the April 7 ballot.

Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, reported that when Dunn County Clerk Julie Wathke had turned in the referendum questions approved by the village board at a joint meeting of the library board and village board January 19 to the state Government Accountability Board, GAB officials had asked why the referendum included four questions that each asked for a yes or no answer.

The advisory referendum question could instead ask village voters to choose one of four options, Niggemann explained.

The latest set of questions represents the third version of the advisory referendum questions about library services and village services that will be posed to the residents of Colfax in the April election.

The first time around, at the January 12 meeting, the Colfax Village Board approved an introductory paragraph and four questions asking village residents whether they supported a stand-alone library, a multi-functional building (library; clerk; police department), renovating the municipal building basement, or moving the library, clerk and police department out of the municipal building.

The first part of the January 12 referendum question said: “The village officials want to measure village resident support for the following options below. The public library and village administration are operating in minimal space that is not conducive to efficient operations. The total cost for any of the following options shall be achieved through grants, donations, fund-raising efforts and other sponsorship programs to result in no tax increases to village residents. This is not a binding referendum, and the outcome of the votes does not guarantee that a project will be approved. Which one of the four options below do you support?”

At the January 19 joint meeting, village board and library board members learned that the paragraph that had been approved to appear above the referendum questions could not be included on the ballot.

Members of the village board and library board approved the following questions January 19 that asked voters for a yes or no answer with no introductory paragraph:

• Do you support the construction of a new stand-alone library?

• Do you support the construction of a new multi-functional building (library, administration, and police department)?

• Do you support renovating the municipal building for expansion?

• Do you support keeping the current library, administration, and police functions in the municipal building?

At the February 9 meeting, Niggemann informed the village board of the new development about the referendum questions.

The Colfax Village Board subsequently approved a resolution establishing the following referendum question:

The Village officials want to measure Village Resident support for the following options below. This is not a Binding Referendum and the outcome of the votes does not guarantee the project will be approved. Which ONE of the four options below do you support?

• Construction of a stand-alone library?

• Construction of a multi-functional building (library, admin., & police dept.)

• Keeping the library, administration and police functions in the current municipal building?

Why others?

Susan Olson, village trustee, asked at the February 19 meeting why a town hall meeting had been scheduled to get opinions from people living outside of Colfax about the Colfax Public Library.

The majority of the Colfax Public Library’s funding comes from Dunn County for residents who live outside of Colfax, explained Scott Gunnufson, village president.

The population of Colfax is a little over 1,100, and the service population for the Colfax Public Library is about 3,000.

The Colfax Public Library’s budget for 2015 is $125,220. Dunn County provides funding of $74,100 for those people living outside of Colfax who use the library, with the remaining $51,120 coming from the village.

People living outside of Colfax will not have their own poll about library services, and the best way to find out their opinions is to hold a town hall meeting, Gunnufson said.

The very last message that Colfax would want to send to library users living outside of Colfax is that “the village does not care what you say about the library,” he said.

Town hall

Ayres Associates has been selected as the architectural firm for Phase I of a library project.

Representatives for Ayres Associates will be presenting a preliminary design and cost estimates and will answer questions and gather information at the town hall meeting.

The town hall meeting about the Colfax Public Library for all people living in the library’s service area is scheduled for February 25 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Colfax High School.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Village Board:

• Approved a training request from Tim Swenson, Colfax Rescue Squad, for FHWA National Traffic Incident Manager Responder Training near Tomah February 24 and February 25. According to the application, the Colfax Rescue Squad has a significant number of calls to major interstate and state highway incidents. Many times Colfax is the first on scene and is responsible for the placement of incoming units. The training also will qualify Swenson to conduct training for other associated agencies.

• Approved a training request from Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson to attend the new police chief and new sheriff training offered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice February 23 to February 27 at Madison. The training is at no cost to Colfax. The state of Wisconsin pays for the training for new police chiefs and new sheriffs and also pays for lodging and meals.

• Approved a training request from the department of public works for Rand Bates and Don Logslett to attend the Wisconsin Rural Water Association annual conference in Green Bay  March 24 through March 27. The conference provides continuing education for all of the licenses at one time, Bates said.

• Approved a facility rental request for the Colfax Municipal Building auditorium from the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group for a wedding style show on May 2 and waived the rental fee.

• Approved contracting with Don’s Sweeper Service for street sweeping in Colfax for 2015 in the amount of $6,500.