OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
November 18, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards were in attendance. Ray Combs, Margo Avakian, Stephan Chait, Blaise McGarvey, John LaFlamme, Greg Marguet, and Robbin Gabriel were also present.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Earl Holtz requested a short discussion concerning a letter to be written to Holden Engineers and Latulippe.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Edee Edwards made a motion to accept the 10/10/14 emergency meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to accept the 10/21/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Edwards made a motion to accept the 10/23/14 joint Planning Commission/Selectboard minutes with two corrections. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Holtz made a motion to accept the 11/1/14 Selectboard/Broadband Committee emergency meeting minutes as written. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 11/3/14 emergency meeting minutes with two corrections. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Edwards abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 11/4/14 regular meeting minutes with one addition. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Edwards abstaining.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 11/5/14 emergency meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Edwards abstaining.
Holtz made a motion to accept the 11/6/14 special meeting minutes as written. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Edwards abstaining.
The November 6th meeting was a Windham Solid Waste presentation in Townshend disseminating information about the new Pay-As-You-Throw law. Edwards asked whether the Town of Halifax had to do anything, as the town does not operate its own waste collection service. Sumner said the Selectboard would be asked to adopt the WSWMD ordinance once it is finalized and has been voted on by district representatives. The document is currently in draft form. Greg Marguet, who also attended the WMWMD meeting, contributed several explanatory comments to the discussion.
Edwards made a motion to accept the 11/13/14 emergency meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Sumner abstaining.
Wi-Fi Transmitter Re-cabling
Holtz told the meeting an electrician is currently doing work at the town garage salt shed addition, and Holtz would like the electrician to estimate the cost of adding a duplex—a double electrical socket—near the garage door frame. This would provide a place to plug in the WiFi transmitter. The plan is to reposition the router and run a shorter length of cable, which will eliminate the present difficulty of a longer cable which recently became crimped or pinched and interrupted WiFi signal. Edwards suggested the electrician could also do the necessary ladder work. The Board agreed this was a good idea, and Holtz will follow up. Edwards said WiFi is working now. There was discussion of signal strength, and the possibility of adding a repeater, which Blaise McGarvey said is officially called an extender. Marguet asked how much power the WiFi spot had. After determining that he was referring to transmission speed, Edwards said the current setting is about 1.5mb per second.
Quarry Hearing Preparation
Edwards briefly described the compiled summary of traffic and road data, which is in draft stage. Saying it is helpful to have a document in hand for reference, she asked that Board members review the material and schedule a meeting to discuss it in preparation for the Act 250 hearings. Stephan Chait acknowledged the quantity of data gathered, but said he was unclear on whether the Board had adopted a particular approach, or position. Holtz and Edwards both responded that their process had not gone beyond the research and data collection stage. The Board agreed to schedule meeting dates for both this topic and FY16 budget planning later in this evening’s business.
VLCT—SIU Survey Response
This Special Investigations Unit Survey, forwarded to the Board by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, is querying the Town’s willingness to assist with financial support of existing SIUs. The Board requested Gabriel to find additional information on the subject before choosing a course of action.
Rescue, Inc., Chief Drew Hazelton at Future Meeting
As Rescue, Inc., is anticipating some changes this year, and has posted a one percent increase in costs, Chief Drew Hazelton has offered to meet with the Board to explain details and answer questions. Edwards advised the Town is satisfied with Rescue’s services; the increase is only $10.00, and there is no need for Chief Hazelton to spend time making a personal appearance before the Board. Edwards’ one wish is that someone from the Thomas Hill area would step forward to fill the Rescue representative position. Cara Cheyette is continuing in that role while awaiting another volunteer.
Education Funding (Ann Manwaring, Future Meeting)
In conversation with Sumner recently, Ann Manwaring offered to meet with the Board to talk about Acts 60 and 68, which involve education funding. Holtz asked why Manwaring would want to talk to the Selectboard, rather than the School Board. Edwards advised that a number of Vermont towns were petitioning for a different approach to school funding. Towns like Halifax get their tax dollars solely from property taxes, and those dollars earmarked for school funding are distributed equally across the state. While taxes continue to climb, Halifax and similar towns don’t see an equal return, and are more likely to be refused funds for other projects, such as paving. Sumner explained that the monies the town pays to the state for education are not part of our school’s budget—the school has no control over those dollars. The school tax went up this year, Sumner said, but the school budget went down. Edwards suggested that should Manwaring come to speak, School Board members should also be invited to that meeting. The Board agreed to invite Manwaring to speak at their December 16th meeting, with the offering of December 2nd as an alternative date.
Discuss Crisis Communication
Edwards spoke of receiving a courtesy call notifying her of the recent fire in town with a fatality; she appreciated the notification but, given the new open meeting laws, was concerned about the appropriateness of passing that information along to a fellow Board member. She considered calling an emergency meeting, but Sumner advised that pertinent information had already been shared with the press. The general discussion that followed touched on means of communication during events within the town. Edwards said there have been times when she was unaware of a happening, as she works from home and does not always hear local news immediately. Sumner and John LaFlamme each contributed detailed description of the procedures and communication protocol in use by the area’s fire departments and emergency services during a fire. Holtz wanted to know how the Selectboard would get involved should additional resources be needed. Sumner said that in the event of a fire, Halifax Fire Department notifies Keene, and they handle any requests, including calling in the Red Cross if suitable. During the recent incident, there was no need for the Selectboard to take action; in a different scenario, said John LaFlamme, the Fire Department would have called on him with additional needs, and LaFlamme would then have called Board members.
Holtz has received the as-built drawings for the completed #37 bridge. Holden Engineering has asked for a letter of recommendation from Halifax, based on the bridge construction project. Sumner stated he was 100% for it. Edwards agreed that Holden and Latulippe had both done a good job, but reminded the Board there were budget overruns during preconstruction, and that toward the project finish there was a scheduling delay. Holtz said he would write the letter and let fellow Board members review it.
Schedule Budget Meetings
The Board set December 6th, 13th, and 20th as budget-planning meeting dates. This December 6th meeting agenda will also include the aforementioned quarry discussion. Selectboard budget will be addressed on the 6th, Highway Department on the 13th, and the 20th will be used to finalize details.
Hearing of Visitors
Vermont Alert System
John LaFlamme provided the Board with an electronic PowerPoint presentation for their review. The topic will be on the December 2nd meeting for discussion. LaFlamme said changes to the system would allow the town to have local, private message groups, and there are additional features of interest.
Blaise McGarvey asked about the State’s Ancient Roads regulations; he had recently read a newspaper article on the topic. The Board told him Halifax town road classifications are up-to-date, but Edwards encouraged McGarvey to review the map on the town office wall and let the Board know should he find something he thought might not be current.
Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer for Bill Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.