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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — If the property tax levy of $94,700 for the Colfax Community Fire District sounds familiar — well, it should.
The Colfax Community Fire Department approved a property tax levy of $94,700 at a meeting held October 8, and according to Don Logslett, fire chief, the tax levy has not increased during the time he has been fire chief.
Logslett started serving as fire chief before the fire board first started talking in 2010 about building the new fire station on County Highway M.
The Colfax fire board also approved a budget of $112,700 for 2021, the same as the revenue and expenditure budget for 2020.
The budget also has remained the same for many years, and any budget surplus at the end of the year goes into the equipment replacement fund, Logslett said.
The fire department is never over-budget, although a few line items here and there may run over in any given year and need to be adjusted, he said.
One of the reasons the budget and levy have been able to remain stable is because the fire department is going out on fewer fire runs than in the past, Logslett said.
Although Logslett did not mention chimney fires, other fire chiefs with whom the Colfax Messenger has conversed have remarked that with fewer wood-burning stoves, there are fewer chimney fires and fewer structure fires caused by chimney fires.
During a budget workshop he attended, Logslett said the advice was to increase the budget by 1 or 2 percent every year, but Logslett said it would not be in the best interests of the taxpayers in the Colfax fire district to increase the budget and the tax levy when the fire department has a surplus every year.
As for equipment that will be needed at some point in the relatively near future, the Colfax fire department’s turn-out gear is reaching the point where it will need to be replaced, Logslett said.
Turn-out gear must be replaced every 10 years for a full-time department, but in a full-time department, firefighters may put on their turn-out gear every day or a couple of times a day, while the Colfax fire department may use the turn-out gear once or twice a month, he said.
The catch is that new firefighters cannot take classes if the turn-out gear is over 10 years old, Logslett said.
The fire department can purchase a couple of new sets of gear to have for classes, at a cost of $2,500 for each set, but when it comes time to replace all of the turn-out gear, the fire department will write a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant application, he said.
The Colfax fire district includes the Village of Colfax, the Town of Colfax, the Town of Grant and the Town of Otter Creek.
The Colfax fire board unanimously approved the 2021 budget and the tax levy of $94,700.
Representing the municipalities on the fire board are Scott Gunnufson, Colfax village president; Gary Bjork, supervisor on the Colfax Town Board; Mark Dietsche, chair of the Grant Town Board; and Mark Warner, chair of the Otter Creek Town Board.
Dean Logslett is chair of the Colfax Town Board, but since he serves as assistant fire chief for the Colfax fire department, he has appointed Bjork to represent the township on the fire board.
Assistant fire chief
Dean Logslett is retiring as assistant fire chief, Don Logslett said.
Dean will still serve on the fire department, but he is “hanging it up” as assistant chief, he said.
The Colfax fire board unanimously approved appointing Gary Hill as the new assistant fire chief.
Don Logslett told the fire board that he also would like to retire as fire chief and plans to retire at the end of his current term in 2021.
Here are the property tax levies for the municipalities in the Colfax fire district for 2021 to account for the property tax levy of $94,700:
• Town of Colfax — $94 million in equalized value; 38.9 percent of the equalized value in the fire district; tax levy of $36,854.24.
• Village of Colfax — $57.7 million in equalized value; 23.9 percent of the equalized value in the fire district; tax levy of $22,601.53.
• Town of Grant — $44.9 million in equalized value; 18.6 percent of the equalized value in the fire district; tax levy of $17,608.28.
• Town of Otter Creek — $45 million in equalized value; 18.6 percent of the equalized value in the fire district; tax levy of $17,635.95.
Logslett’s report to the fire board included statistics about fire runs, mutual aid and service hours.
Here are some of the statistics:
• Grass fires — three in 2020 so far compared to seven in 2019.
• Structure fires — three in 2020 so far compared to six in 2019.
• Down power lines — two in 2020 so far compared to zero in 2019.
• Car accidents — five in 2020 so far compared to three in 2019.
• Gas leaks (carbon monoxide) — one so far in 2020 compared to four in 2019.
• Pool fills — two in 2020 compared to six in 2019.
• Vehicle fires — two in 2020 so far compared to three in 2019.
• Total runs — 19 so far in 2020, compared to 29 in 2019.
• Mutual aid — five instances of mutual aid have been received from other fire departments so far in 2020 and 11 instances of mutual aid have been provided. This compares to one mutual aid received in 2019 compared to 11 provided. This year, Colfax has received mutual aid twice from Boyceville and three times from Menomonie and has provided mutual aid twice to Menomonie, Elk Mound, Sand Creek and Bloomer and once to Glenwood City.
• Fire hours — 183 hours so far in 2020 compared to 230 hours in 2019; 148 mutual aid hours in 2020 compared to 142 in 2019; 42 EMS hours so far in 2020 compared to 43 hours in 2019.