By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board is asking for more information before reconsidering the contract with T-Mobile for mobile communications antennas on the water tower.
Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, told the Colfax Village Board at the October 22 meeting that T-Mobile is asking to reduce the rent the company pays for having the antennas on the water tower because T-Mobile is paying more in rent to Colfax than anywhere else.
According to an e-mail message Niggemann received October 3 from Sara Corey, a leasing specialist with Pyramid Network Services LLC out Georgia, the current rent payment Colfax receives is $1,174.30 per month from T-Mobile for having the antennas on the water tower.
Niggemann said she had asked for a map of the T-Mobile towers in this area to obtain a better idea of whether the company actually needed the Colfax water tower or whether there were other towers that would still provide service.
The map she received, Niggemann said, was for New York, so it was not especially helpful.
Through further research, Niggemann said she had determined there were no other T-Mobile towers close enough to Colfax to find on a map.
The new contract with T-Mobile would include an initial five-year term starting on April 1, 2019, and would continue for five successive terms of six years, with a final lease end date of March 31, 2049, and an increase of eight percent per term, according to the e-mail message.
The site on the Colfax water tower is under review, according to the e-mail, because Sprint and T-Mobile are planning a merger.
If an agreement is not reached for the Colfax water tower, T-Mobile will assess the existing agreement and compare it to the cost of locating to a different site, according to the e-mail.
Colfax seems like it would be a tower that T-Mobile would want, Niggemann said.
“What’s the cost of moving their equipment?” asked Rand Bates, director of public works.
Bates said he believed the cost of moving the equipment would be much more than the cost of an annual lease.
“There’s going to be a cost to move the equipment, and it’s going to be more than $12,000,” Bates said.
Gary Stene, village president, said he, too, would like to know the cost of moving the T-Mobile equipment.
T-Mobile will lose customers without towers to provide service, Niggemann noted.
Niggemann said she supposed T-Mobile could move the equipment to another tower, perhaps to the Verizon tower.
The agreement between the Village of Colfax and T-Mobile dates back to the fall of 2009.
A representative for T-Mobile had approached the village board in June of 2009 about a contract to put antennas on the water tower, but the village board had already granted approval the year before to Verizon for antennas on the water tower, although Verizon had never signed the contract.
In the meantime, Verizon had purchased All-Tel and had decided to build its own cell towers.
The agreement with Verizon did not include a “null and void” clause, so village board members decided in June of 2009 to check with the village’s attorney.
The actual signing of the lease agreement with T-Mobile was contingent upon following the suggestions from the engineer’s report and the village attorney’s final review of the contract.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved granting a lease to T-Mobile in August of 2009.
As per the agreement, the village started out receiving $900 per month with scheduled increases of 3 percent per year throughout the term of the agreement.
Since the beginning of the agreement, T-Mobile has paid more than $100,000 to the village of Colfax.
In July of 2012, the village of Colfax accepted the low bid of $93,000 for repairing and painting the water tower.
At the October 22 meeting, village board members agreed they wanted to know how much it would cost T-Mobile to relocate the antennas and where T-Mobile might plan to move the antennas.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved a training request for Niggemann to attend the Security and Fraud Awareness Seminar in Eau Claire November 1.
• Approved a facility rental for the beer garden/dance area at the Colfax Fairgrounds for Margaret Burcham on July 27, 2019, for a wedding reception.
• Discussed a variety of health insurance quotes that would provide savings to the village on health insurance premiums but would increase the cost of deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses for employees. The “awesome savings” would come at the expense of the employees, noted Gary Stene, village president. Village board members agreed to continue the discussion next spring when the current health insurance policy comes up for review.
• Approved an agreement with the Dunn County treasurer for Dunn County to collect the property taxes for the village of Colfax. As per the agreement, Colfax will pay $2.30 for each tax bill prepared for real and personal property. The agreement represents an increase of about $30 over the previous agreement, Niggemann said.
• Agreed to delay making a decision on a contract with the Dunn County Humane Society until a representative for the Humane Society can attend a village board meeting to answer questions. The proposed contract rate for 2019 is $1.88 per capita, for a total of $2107.48; and for 2020, a per capita rate of $1.99 for a total of $2,230.79. Several village board members indicated they did not necessarily see a benefit to contracting with the Dunn County Humane Society.
• Approved an ordinance amendment for the library board stating that the library board shall consist of seven members: one village trustee and one village of Colfax resident appointed by the village president and subject to confirmation by the village board; up to two members who are residents of another municipality adjacent to the village; one school district administrator or the administrator’s designee; and two county appointed board members. The initial terms on the library board will be staggered so that eventually, board members will serve three year terms that do not all come up for appointment at the same time. The ordinance will go into effect upon publication in the Colfax Messenger. The library board members and their terms include Mark Halpin, village trustee, with a term expiring May 1, 2019; Lori Halpin, school district, with a term expiring May 1, 2019; Nancy Baumgartner, village resident, with a term expiring May 1, 2020; Krista Ottinger, library board president, town resident, with a term expiring May 1, 2020; Gary Stene, county board, with a term expiring May 1, 2020; Eve Suckow, town resident, with a term expiring May 1, 2021; Olivia Landon, village resident, with a term expiring May 1, 2021.
• Discussed whether the village board wanted to consider renting out the 150 white chairs owned by the village to members of the public for either $1 per chair or $100 or $150 for all of the chairs. In addition to village events, the chairs have been used for the Dunn County Fair meat animal auction. According to former village president Jean Olson, the chairs were purchased prior to the Colfax Tornado Commemoration in 2008. The village board agreed Niggemann should draft a rental agreement for the chairs, and then the board would review the proposed agreement.
• Set the public hearing date for the 2019 budget on December 3.
• Agreed to reschedule the first meeting date in November from November 12, when Veterans Day will be observed, to November 14, and agreed to cancel the second meeting in December which would fall on December 24.