OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
JOINT SELECTBOARD/SCHOOL BOARD MEETING MINUTES
December 16, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards and School Board members Homer Sumner and Kimberly Tefft were present. Joe Tamburrino, Greg Marguet, Ray Combs, Maria Stewart (Halifax School), Ashley Moorhouse (Halifax School), Ann Manwaring (D-VT Windham-6), and Robbin Gabriel were also in attendance.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Edee Edwards asked that the Auditor’s Request for Selectboard Report be removed from this agenda, as she is still in the preparation stage.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Earl Holtz made a motion to approve the 12/2/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Edwards seconded the motion with two corrections. The motion passed, 2-0-1, with Lewis Sumner abstaining.
Edwards made a motion to approve the 12/6/14 special meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Holtz made a motion to approve the 12/13/14 special meeting minutes as written. Edwards seconded the motion with one correction. The motion passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to sign and send a contract cancellation letter to Sandri LLC. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. In discussion, Edwards asked the letter be addressed specifically to Peter Murphy, Sandri’s engineer, and Joe Tamburrino recommended the locks on the town garage fuel tanks be changed. Ray Combs asked whether the town had a new supplier; the town has a letter with price quotes from Nido. Edwards made a motion to approve Nido as the town’s fuel supplier. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
WSWMD Budget Proposal
The Board examined WSWMD’s proposed FY16 budget figures, which show a 5.6% increase. Greg Marguet had attended the Windham Solid Waste budget meeting; he and the Board discussed the changes the new law would bring to the handling of refuse and hazardous wastes. WSWMD will hold a hearing on December 30th, and will vote on the budget the second Thursday in January. Edwards said there was some disagreement amongst towns about the value of waste district membership; she suggested Halifax Selectboard members should attend the 12/30 budget hearing.
Fairfield—Penalty for Late Delivery
Delivery on the new one-ton truck has been delayed by two months. The most recent expected delivery date is Friday, December 19th. Sumner said town attorney Robert Fisher had advised withholding a percentage of the unpaid balance by way of a penalty for late delivery. Tamburrino noted that nothing in the current contract addressed late delivery penalties. Various options were put forth for the creation of a penalty clause to be included in the town’s purchasing policy. Edwards mentioned the current policy did not address the possibility of prepayment, either. Marguet said any late delivery penalty should be based on damage, or lack of damage, occasioned by the delay. The Board agreed to reconvene the original purchasing policy committee—Patty Dow, Joe Tamburrino, Earl Holtz, and Brad Rafus—to develop a set of recommendations for purchasing policy revision to cover these omissions. The committee will hold open meetings, which will be warned per open meeting law.
At this time, Edwards proposed reordering the agenda to allow Ann Manwaring to speak next.
Ann Manwaring, Education Funding
The three main topics to be considered in the Legislature this year, began Manwaring, are healthcare financing, the ten million dollar shortfall between revenues and expenditures, and property tax-funded education spending. Manwaring believes the petition presently in circulation recommending a two-year cap on education property tax rates is not the best course of action to pursue; instead, she supports the idea of a moratorium on any immediate legislation. She spoke about a possible shift from Homestead to income tax, the need for better lateral communication on the education funding issue, the large increase in the number of Vermont “giving” towns in recent years, fundamental shifts in learning methods, and the Governor’s desire to shut down small schools. In discussion, Homer “Chum” Sumner addressed residents’ frustration with higher tax bills, even though the School Board had put hard work into reducing their budget. He suggested disposing of Act 60 and funding the Miller formula at 100%. Manwaring recommended the vtdigger.org web site to anyone interested in keeping track of education funding happenings in Vermont.
Manwaring praised Halifax Town’s efforts to bring Internet service, broadband, and cell phone service to the area, and was interested to learn, from Ashley Moorhouse, of Halifax School teachers’ frustration over the requirement to pay National Education Association dues even though the NEA has deemed the teachers’ group too small to merit direct assistance in salary and scheduling negotiations. Finally, Manwaring invited anyone with an interest to come visit the Legislature during open session.
Procedure to Petition for Reclassifying Roads
A number of Halifax residents recently signed a petition to request an article be added to the annual town meeting warning concerning the reclassification of a town road. Edwards explained the reclassification process, which falls to the Selectboard and cannot be legally addressed by citizen vote at town meeting. Joe Tamburrino will rewrite the petition and let residents know they will need to sign it again.
Hearing of Visitors
Marguet wished to speak about the old town garage. As this item will be on a special meeting agenda in the near future, it was agreed he would wait and speak at that meeting.
Lister Vacancy and Planning Commission Secretary Vacancy
Edwards expressed sorrow at Phyllis Evanuk’s passing, and advised the Board of Listers now has a temporary position open (until town meeting) and an elected position to be filled at March Town Meeting. Also, the Planning Commission is in need of a permanent secretary; this is a hired position. Tamburrino requested Gabriel be appointed to the temporary Lister position until town meeting. Edwards advised waiting until the next regular meeting, to give anyone interested a chance to come forward. Tamburrino also requested that he and fellow lister Charlene Martynowski be permitted to participate in review of potential candidates for the temporary appointment. This item will be on the January 6, 2015 agenda.
Sovernet Optics Quote
Gabriel reported that investigation into current Sovernet fiber optics costs in adjacent towns had not revealed any noteworthy price reductions; the fiber optics system is well-liked for its speed, but the service remains costly.
Overweight Truck Permits
Vermont law allows municipalities to formulate written agreements with overweight permit applicants for compensation payments to offset damage large vehicles cause to town roads. This is in addition to the standard state-mandated $5 or $10 administrative fee charged for issuing an overweight permit. Marguet recalled Yankee paying large compensatory amounts to Rowe, MA, when moving heavy, oversized equipment years ago, but otherwise no other information is available to confirm other Vermont towns charge truckers additional damage fees. Edwards said that should Halifax take this course, the town would be on the cutting edge. She is still interested in further investigation and suggested talking with VLCT for advice.
Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer for Payment
The Selectboard’s and Road Commissioner’s orders to the Treasurer were reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed or processed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:38 p.m.