OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
June 29, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner and Edee Edwards were present, as were Brad Rafus, Joe Tamburrino, Patty Dow, Douglas Parkhurst, Marilou Parkhurst, Maggie Bartenhagen, Nick Bartenhagen, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Marilyn Allen, Rebecca Stone, Doug Grob, Rick Gay, Norman Fajans, Sue Kelly, Everett Wilson, Linda Lyon, Wayne Courser, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
As the Board has not yet received materials from the town attorney’s office, Edwards requested the road reclassification item be removed from the agenda. Sumner moved signing of the truck lease documents to the head of the list.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Edee Edwards made a motion to approve the 6/16/15 regular meeting minutes with one addition. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
Approve and Sign Truck Lease Documents
Patty Dow told the Board that interest on the bank loan for the two trucks is 2¼%. This is a five-year lease, with the first payment due in June 2016. The town is making an initial payment of $35,500. Balance owed thereafter is $110,000. Sumner made a motion to approve the non-collateralized capital equipment lease agreement. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0. The Board signed the documents and returned them to Dow for processing.
Appoint Fire Warden
Edwards made a motion to appoint Malcolm Sumner as fire warden for the next five years, ending June 30, 2020. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0. The signed document will be returned to the Agency of Natural Resources.
Award Fuel Bid
Sumner noted they had skipped over this item previously. Edwards has been researching an option available through the state for fuel purchases. Until recently the Board was not aware of this process, and, because state contracts are based on rack price plus mark-up, a question remains as to whether this would be a good choice for the town. In the past the town has approved bids offering a set price per gallon. Craig Stone said that as a fuel user he was in favor of exploring other prices, but recommended talking with other towns who use the state service to learn about their level of satisfaction with quality and the manner in which the town’s specific needs have been met. Stone recalled the Halifax highway department’s difficulties with fuel quality in the preceding year and made the point that the lowest price is not always the best option. Edwards noted that at a WRC shared services meeting earlier this year no mention was made of local towns contracting with the state, although several nearby towns are listed on the state’s website. An advantage of a state contract might be that the town would have greater weight and leverage if it encountered a problem such as last year’s contaminated fuel event, she added. Joe Tamburrino advised looking not just at price, but also at service and product when considering a bid. Edwards said that last year the town had no information indicating they might have a problem with the chosen vendor’s product. Had we known, we might have avoided the situation. We are trying to save some money and steamline the process, she continued, and if we don’t have to advertise and put this stuff out to bid, that’s a savings right there. Last year’s contract runs out tomorrow, said Sumner. We don’t know when the state is going to start taking requests, and we have a flat fee bid from Nido. Nido’s quote is eighty cents a gallon less than last year, said Brad Rafus. Sumner made a motion to accept Guy Nido’s fuel bid for #2 heating oil at $2.44/gallon, summer diesel fuel at $2.46/gallon and winter mix diesel fuel at $2.69/gallon. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
Appoint Selectboard Member
We have had three candidates express interest in a Selectboard appointment, advised Edwards. The individual appointed will serve until an election is held. Two of the three candidates are present tonight. Sumner suggested setting a date to interview all the candidates. Edwards said she had thought the Board would conduct interviews at this meeting; she had prepared questions, but not all the candidates are here. Joe Tamburrino remarked that one of the candidates had been on several different town boards and had resigned from all of them. You should consider that, he said. Edwards replied that the candidate in question had done a good job of presenting the NFPI regulations clearly and effectively, and has stated that it would be more appropriate to have a Rescue, Inc., representative from the portion of town actually served by that organization. This is a temporary appointment, she continued, and my personal hope is that we get this in front of the voters as soon as possible. Wayne Courser agreed with Tamburrino, and said the Board should be careful in making their choice. We will thoroughly vet all the candidates, said Edwards.
Edwards thanked Doug Grob, Rebecca Stone, and Cara Cheyette for being willing to serve the town. Rebecca Stone said she was willing to answer questions tonight. If we had known ahead of time maybe the other candidate would have been here. Edwards had thought interviews would be done this night, while Sumner suggested setting an interview date as the night’s agenda was already lengthy. Sumner and Edwards settled on Wednesday, July 1st, as a date to hold interviews, and Edwards called Cheyette to confirm her availability. Linda Lyon mentioned that when she was appointed to the Planning Commission someone could have made a similar statement about her not following through on things, as she had resigned as training officer for Halifax EMS. I trust you will look at the full sweep of each candidates’ accomplishments and shortcomings, she added. July 1st interviews were scheduled as follows: Cara Cheyette, 6:30 p.m.; Doug Grob, 7:15 p.m.; Rebecca Stone, 8:00 p.m. This meeting will be warned and open to the public.
Discuss Engineering Grant for Branch Road Bridge
We have won a VTrans grant to do the engineering study on the Branch Road bridge at Hubbard Hill, said Sumner. We have to put it out to bid. The deck, guardrails, and abutments should be assessed by an engineer, said Rafus. I don’t want to run into the design changes we dealt with on Old County North bridge. That was expensive. Tamburrino recommended two bids, one to assess needs and one to design the project. Those I-beams probably have lead paint on them, said Rafus, so that will have to be removed. We know the guardrails need to be replaced, said Edwards, we need to find out what else needs to be done. Can we ask VTrans District #2 to help us with grant wording? The grant amount is $15,000; Sumner said the town was required to make a contribution. Our portion is $1,500, said Rafus. The grant is for engineering costs, it does not specify design. Rafus will discuss the grant process with Marc Pickering at VTrans.
Sign Vermont State Police Contract
Sumner made a motion to approve the Vermont State Police contract for $6,000 for fiscal year 2016. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0. Does VSP provide a report on their work in the town, asked Craig Stone. Do they spread it out over the fiscal year? Stone has noticed a greater VSP presence in town shortly after the yearly contract is signed. Are they patrolling the whole town? I’m not saying they’re doing a bad job, he continued; I’m curious. Sumner and several others said they had seen troopers patrolling other roads in town. Edwards said the state police have been responsive to specific requests from the town. They report on the number of stops made and citations issued; $6,000 isn’t much. I think we are getting more than our $6,000 worth, Sumner remarked. They frequently stop in at the town office to learn whether there are any particular concerns. Last year VSP reported spending 2,014.82 hours in Halifax. That’s more than our $6,000 budget, because the average is about $50 an hour.
Sign School Lease
The new lease is a straight cost to the town which does not include maintenance, said Edwards. We will make a payment at the first Selectboard meeting in July. Edwards made a motion to sign the Halifax School lease for $10,000 per year, from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0. The Board added the 2017 end date as it had been left open on the document. The Town will continue to sand the school parking lot. The agreement includes utilities and trash removal, but not office cleaning.
Hearing of Visitors
Doug Parkhurst inquired about when the Center VTel tower would start transmitting. Still no firm date, responded Edwards, though their grant ends in June. Sumner had talked with Howard Smith who said VTel was hoping for June 30 but it might be a few days thereafter. Contact VTel, advised Edwards, they have a waiting list and should notify people. She told Norman Fajans the Broadband Committee would make announcements as soon as they have information; residents should also watch for flyers and read the newspapers. The initial equipment cost will be $85 to $500, depending on the type of equipment needed, and then there will be a monthly service fee. The Broadband Committee will be publishing a comparison chart of costs and services from a number of providers.
Tamburrino said one of the most important tasks in front of the Selectboard was replacement of the town garage roof before winter sets in. There are millions of dollars of equipment in that building. I don’t think you need an engineer to look at the problem, you just need to replace the roof. We have dealt with this for years, said Edwards. Stephan Chait has been working with Rafus to get an engineer’s assessment. Rafus said the last time he talked with Chait there had been no response from the engineer. The exchange continued—Edwards said no one had been able to determine just what the problem is with the roof, while Tamburrino advocated soliciting appraisals from roofers and reviewing their evaluations. Edwards replied that no one was willing to make an assessment without a commitment to purchase; she had earlier suggested putting a new roof over the old one but that was not approved by the Board. Rebecca Stone asked whether the Town had asked their insurance carrier for a free appraisal, and also what the Town has available for capital improvement projects. We have no capital budget responded Edwards. Stone pointed out that not only is the equipment at risk, the employees who work in the building are, also. Rafus said in his opinion the roof needs to come off and be completely replaced. It has never been right since the building was new; the previous Board let it go. If the town had followed up with the contractor at the time the vendor would have been liable. Edwards said she would contact Chait again. Is it a screw-down metal roof, asked Doug Grob. He has some experience in that realm and volunteered to examine the roof. Rafus confirmed. Edwards said she would like to have the Board put the topic on a future agenda and decide how to approach it. On future projects, said Craig Stone, you should assure whoever serves as clerk of the works is qualified for the job. Sumner suggested Grob get together with Rafus to inspect the roof, and the proposal met with agreement.
Rafus has researched Windham Wood Heat Initiative’s chip boiler proposal, which was discussed at the last meeting. There is an entry form to submit, and then a site visit and assessment is scheduled. Rafus will get the paperwork to the Board in time for their next meeting.
The Board has received an email from an interested party concerning stone wall material that was moved and used by the road crew in their work. Edwards requested further information. Rafus said the highway department had replaced a three-foot culvert at the intersection of Bellows and Reed Hill roads, and used the stone to construct headers. The stones in question were not off a stonewall, he said; the highway crew had placed them on the roadside bank after Irene in anticipation of the culvert replacement project. Rafus said he had responded to the email and had not heard anything in return.
Edwards also announced that the close-out report was due on the Municipal Planning Grant which funded the work the Planning Commission has been doing on the zoning regulations revision. As the municipal authorizing official, Edwards has been communicating with Sirean LaFlamme, John Bennett, and Patty Dow to assemble the information needed to complete the paperwork.
Selectboard’s Final FY15 Order to the Treasurer for Bill Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed. Sumner said the town had bid on one piece of property at the June 23rd tax sale and explained the detail of the bookkeeping process involved.
The Board reviewed correspondence, passed a driveway permit to Rafus for review, signed an overweight permit, and signed a thank you letter to Earl Holtz. They had also received a thank you from a Cael scholarship recipient. They read copy of a letter written to the Cemetery Commissioner regarding concerns with a cemetery plot but agreed no action was required, as the Board does not have jurisdiction over the cemetery commission. Last, the Board discussed possible questions to present to applicants for the open Selectboard position.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m.