By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The property tax levy for the Colfax Community Fire Department will remain the same for 2019 at $94,700.
The Colfax fire board set the levy and approved the budget for 2019 of $112,700 at a meeting held October 25 at the Colfax fire station.
The tax levy has essentially remained unchanged since the 2012 levy, said Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief.
The tax levy has been set at $94,700 for 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. The tax levy in 2012 was $200 more at $94,900.
Some of the budgeted amounts for 2019, which were the same as the 2018 budget, include $1,500 for clothing; $1,000 for fire hall maintenance; $11,700 for insurance (life, property and liability and workmen’s compensation); $5,460 for office expenses (administration, notices, supplies, cleaning, office equipment and charges and fees); $22,010 for firemen’s wages; $6,500 for officers’ wages; $1,200 for radios, pagers and communication; $5,850 for small equipment (maintenance, testing and calibration and recertification); $3,400 for staff development (training, conventions, memberships, dues); $32,100 for truck expenses (gas, oil, maintenance and repair, and to savings for a new vehicle); and $9,380 for utilities (electricity, heating, phone and Internet, water and sewer and garbage).
The tax levies for the municipalities in the Colfax fire district will be as follows:
• Town of Colfax — $36,919.67 (equalized value in the fire district of $85.4 million or 39 percent of the total equalized value).
• Village of Colfax — $22,446.55 (equalized value in the fire district of $51.9 million or 23.7 percent of the total equalized value).
• Town of Grant — $17,659.77 (equalized value in the fire district of $40.8 million or 18.6 percent of the total equalized value).
• Town of Otter Creek — $17,674 (equalized value in the fire district of $40.9 million or 18.7 percent of the total equalized value).
During his review of the 2018 budget, Logslett reported that fire hall maintenance of a little more than $4,700 so far this year had exceeded the budget for the year of $1,000.
The locks on the two service doors on the south side “fell apart,” and the replacement cost was $1,200, Logslett said.
The fire hall also needed to have the floors redone in the meeting room and office areas, he said, at a cost of about $1,000.
A company called Badger Cleaning stripped the floors and then put down seven layers of wax, Logslett said.
The fire hall is now on a maintenance plan for the floor, so subsequent work will not cost as much, he said.
Another $1,500 was spent on hardware, such as pipes and reel hose, for a hot water high pressure washer, Logslett said.
The firefighters bought the high pressure washer, and the fire district paid for the hardware necessary to make it work, he said.
The high pressure hot water washer runs on natural gas, and the firefighters have discussed buying one for many years, Logslett said.
Fire hall maintenance also included lawn mowing at a cost of $250 per time for five times, he noted.
Logslett said he was fairly certain, unless something completely unexpected happened, that the fire department budget would end 2018 with a surplus.
If a surplus remains at the end of the year, it can be put into the vehicle replacement account, he said.
Last year, a surplus of $14,000 was added to the vehicle replacement fund along with the annual contribution from the budget of $20,000.
The vehicle replacement account currently has a balance of $119,065, which does not include the $20,000 contribution for 2018 or any surplus that may remain at the end of the year.
The vehicle replacement account balance reflects the withdrawal of $90,000 to purchase a used tanker truck to replace the very oldest of the fire department’s tanker trucks.
According to the financial statement that included the year-to-date numbers through September 30, in addition to the vehicle replacement account, the fire department had a general fund balance of $38,654, and the money market business account had a balance of $42,264.
Logslett said he anticipated starting the process to buy a new fire engine in 2020.
The existing fire engine was purchased in 1994 at a cost of $140,000.
A new fire engine would have a foam system for fighting fires, and Logslett said he would also want an inside control panel.
The cost of a new fire engine might be somewhere between $350,000 and $400,000, he said.
After a new fire engine is purchased, the Colfax fire department should be in good shape for equipment, although perhaps a new brush truck might be needed at some point, Logslett said.
So far in 2018, the Colfax fire department has gone out on 22 runs, which included one grass fire, two structure fires, two false alarms, one downed power line, five car accidents, six gas leaks/carbon monoxide leaks and five swimming pool fills.
The Colfax fire department has a roster of 32 firefighters.
So far in 2018, the Colfax fire department has provided mutual aid to Boyceville one time, to Menomonie three times, and twice to Sand Creek for a total of six mutual aid runs.
So far in 2018, the Colfax fire department has received mutual aid twice from Menomonie, twice from Elk Mound and twice from Sand Creek.
Through October 31, the fire department has logged 260 fire hours; 38 EMS hours; 67 mutual aid hours; 103 training hours; and 186 meeting hours.
In other business, the Colfax Community Fire District Board:
• Approved appointing Mark Dietsche, representative for the Town of Grant, as president of the fire board.
• Approved appointing Dean Logslett as the assistant fire chief. The firefighters elected Dean Logslett as the assistant fire chief, and it was the board’s job to appoint him.
• Agreed to sell the old tender/tanker truck by bids on an online auction. The money for the truck will go into the equipment replacement fund, Logslett said, noting that he has already received inquiries from farmers about using it as a water truck for their farming operations.