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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has agreed the village should find out more information about Xcel Energy’s plan to sell a piece of property between the Red Cedar River and the lift station.
Xcel Energy is selling a narrow strip of property to an adjoining landowner west of the lift station and contacted the village about the sale because the land is within the village limits and there were “title issues” because Dunn County’s Geographical Information System (GIS) maps contained the wrong names for property owners, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s November 14 meeting.
The village board met Wednesday evening instead of on the regular meeting night of November 12 because Veterans Day was observed on November 12 this year.
In addition to the narrow strip of land west of the lift station, Xcel is interested in selling a triangle-shaped piece of property east of the lift station that extends to the Red Cedar River, Niggemann said.
The lift station is south of state Highway 170 and across the road from Tom Prince Memorial Park.
The village has sewer lines running through the triangle-shaped piece of property to the lift station, and groups from Colfax High School also have cut walking trails through the property, Niggemann said.
“It’s something to look into,” said Carey Davis, village trustee.
Niggemann said she had no idea how much money Xcel Energy planned to ask for the property.
The village should do some research, said Mark Halpin, village trustee.
Halpin chaired the meeting in the absence of Gary Stene, village president.
Niggemann said she would find out more information and bring it back to the village board.
In other business at the November 14 meeting, the Colfax Village Board approved a maintenance assessment contract with Barbara Zempel, Zempel Appraisal Service out of Eau Claire, in the amount of $850 per month.
Under the current contract, Zempel is paid $800 per month, and the current monthly fee has been the same since 2014, Zempel said.
Colfax will be receiving a notice from the state next year that the valuation is not in compliance with the state requirement of being within 10 percent, over or under, of full market value, she said.
The last year Colfax was in full compliance with the state requirement was in 2015, Zempel noted.
The state sends out notices about being out of compliance in the fourth year of non-compliance.
After the village receives a notice from the state, the village will have two years to do a re-valuation, Zempel said.
If the re-valuation is not completed by the sixth year that the village is out of compliance on property values, the process is much more difficult because the state becomes involved, she said.
The last field review of property in Colfax was completed 20 years ago, so another field review should be done, Zempel said.
Colfax has 432 properties, and while it is easy to do a field review of the commercial properties, the residential properties are much more challenging to find a time when the homeowner is at home, she said.
“Residential is a logistical nightmare,” Zempel said.
Zempel said she sends out a letter prior to doing an on-site evaluation of the property and that she would be lucky to be able to get into a quarter of the houses without an appointment.
Niggemann said when the village replaced water meters in all of the residences, the process went quite smoothly because notices were put on doors that homeowners needed to make an appointment to have the water meter changed.
Zempel said she would be willing to put notices on doors for scheduling appointments.
The village will most likely go through the re-valuation process in 2020.
Coming into compliance with the state’s requirement is easier now with computers than it was when the process was done with pencil and paper, Zempel noted.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved a contract with Fred Weber to serve as the building inspector for Colfax. Weber Inspections will collect all permit fees from the owner and/or contractor to cover all of the cost for the building inspections.
• Approved contracting with Advance Claim for ambulance billing software at a cost of $1,000 for a one-time implementation fee and a cost of $499 per month, with the first two months free. The software will result in less “double entry” of information between Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, and Sheila Riemer, deputy clerk-treasurer, Niggemann said. The software also will generate better reports for the auditors, she said.
• Accepted an offer from Colfax resident Sally Johnson to donate a flag pole for Tom Prince Memorial Park in memory of her husband, Glen (Pete) Johnson. A flag would be a wonderful addition to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Halpin noted. The village would plan to fly a United States flag and a Prisoner of War flag, Niggemann said. The village accepted the offer under the condition that Johnson is still willing to donate the flag pole since Niggemann was unable to reach Johnson prior to the village board meeting to confirm the donation. Freedom Flag & Pole out of Eau Claire sent a quoted price to Niggemann of $465.
• Approved a budget transfer of $100 to purchase a used voting machine from the Town of Colfax.