OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
December 13, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 8:37 a.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards were present. Brad Rafus, Rick Gay, and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Edee Edwards requested that the Board plan the topics list for the December 16, 2014 agenda, and Lewis Sumner asked for a discussion of the town garage fuel situation.
New Business (Part One)
Sumner told the meeting that as there was no penalty clause in the contract between Sandri and the town, attorney Robert Fisher advised the Board to compose a letter to Sandri detailing all that had occurred pertaining to town garage fuel contamination and actions taken to resolve. Gabriel will work with Brad Rafus to prepare the letter for Board review at the December 16th meeting. Edwards asked whether pricing information had been received from Nido, and Rafus said Nido has provided a written quote, with winter fuel prices essentially the same, and summer fuel and heating oil prices adjusted to lesser amounts to reflect the recent drop in prices.
Edwards now proposed moving Hearing of Visitors forward, to allow Rick Gay to speak before other agenda items and the budgeting process began.
Hearing of Visitors
Highway Crew Wages
Rick Gay recommended a raise for the highway department crew; he said hourly rates under $20 are not enough for employees who have families to raise, are responsible for operating heavy equipment, and can be called out in the middle of the night to plow or anytime there is an accident or other occurrence. Maybe $20 an hour should be a starting point, Gay said, mentioning that he was paying laborers that much an hour twenty years ago. Edwards said data on statewide wages indicate Halifax is near the top of the current wage rate. Halifax is also one of the few towns still paying 100% of health insurance costs. Per VLCT, 2013 average pay for road crew members across the state was $16.82 an hour. The Board looks at pay rates each year, Holtz added, and has raised them in some fashion every year. Last year, they reduced the number of hours worked by 120 hours, and raised the hourly rate to compensate. Newfane’s rates, he said, are actually a little less than ours. Further discussion touched on similarities and differences between Vermont towns related to road type, mileage maintained, and job descriptions for Road Commissioners and Road Foremen. Rafus suggested taking the wage budget, dividing that number by road miles to be maintained, and then dividing that result by the number of employees. He cited several nearby towns as examples, and said he believes Halifax employees have more responsibility per employee than other towns.
New Business (Part Two)
Planning Commission Secretary and Lister Vacancies
With the passing of Phyllis Evanuk, the law requires posting of town government vacancies within ten days. As the two positions are temporarily covered, Edwards suggested posting the vacancies around town and making an appointment to the Board of Listers in a January meeting. Two lister positions will be on the ballot at March Town Meeting, said Sumner; Joe Tamburrino’s term expires this year, and Phyllis Evanuk’s term has two years remaining. Sumner has learned there will be a memorial service for Phyllis at the Community Hall on January 3rd; no time available yet. The Planning Commission will really miss her, he said. Even when she was no longer active, she continued to share her knowledge. “She could answer almost any question you had,” added Rafus.
Northern Reliability Request for Town to Install Conduit for Resiliency Cell Service
Edwards had received a call from Alan Pratt who wanted to know whether the road crew could do the trenchwork and lay out conduit provided by Northern Reliability. This needs to be done quickly, as the ground is beginning to freeze. The conduit will be delivered on Monday, December 15th, and John Sutton will be there discuss the project with Rafus. Holtz asked if the road crew would be joining the pipe sections and Rafus said he was familiar with the process and would have no problems unless the ground was too frozen. The Board was in agreement with the plan as outlined.
FY 16 Budget Preparation
The duration of the meeting was devoted to reviewing and discussing line items in the Town Highway Department portion of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Before close, the Board provided a list of items for the December 16th meeting agenda.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:01 p.m.