OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
November 1, 2016
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner and Mitchell Green were present; Bradley Rafus was unable to attend. Ray Combs, John LaFlamme, Emily Blake (Deerfield Valley News), and Robbin Gabriel were also present.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Lewis Sumner will give an update on the PFC testing of the closed landfill on the town garage property.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Sumner made a motion to approve the 10/18/16 regular meeting minutes as written. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
VY/DEMHS Grant Funds—John LaFlamme
John LaFlamme, after a recent meeting with Emergency Management and Homeland Security officials, had information for the Selectboard on availability of VY/DEMHS grant funds. He provided various documents to the Board, and explained that a two-year grant has been offered; $15,000 for each EPZ town in the current fiscal year (FY17), and $15,000 in FY18. There is also the possibility of further grant funding if fuel rods remain in the pool beyond that two-year period. Entergy is also funding a Regional and Emergency Management Coordinator for southern Vermont. Richard Cogliano, who is currently the Southern Exercise Planner for the Homeland Security Section of DEMHS, will be filling that position. LaFlamme outlined the various documentation and other requirements for town grant eligibility. Funding can be requested for planning, organization, equipment, training, or exercise costs. Deadline for grant applications is November 18th, 2016, and any grant monies approved for FY17 must be spent between the date of approval and June 30, 2017. LaFlamme explained to Ray Combs that although Vermont Yankee has shut down, there is still a minimal risk because spent fuel rods remain at the plant. These grant monies are intended to help EPZ towns transition from radiological response to all hazards preparedness.
Board members and LaFlamme discussed what to request in the grant application, while keeping this year’s short deadline in mind. Sumner made a motion to have John LaFlamme work with Brad Rafus to obtain quotes on repeater and generator upgrades, with the grant request to be written as follows: $1,500 for one local emergency drill, $10,000 to either upgrade the town garage repeater or generator, and $3,500 for Emergency Management Director stipend. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0. Combs asked how taxes were handled when participants in emergency drills were paid. Green said the earnings were subject to standard withholding; there is no cost to the town.
Drug and Alcohol Policy
The Board reviewed and approved an updated Drug and Alcohol policy at their October 18th, 2016, meeting. Tonight they signed the final document.
Review WSWMD 2018 Budget Proposals
Windham Solid Waste Management District has written several budget proposals for the coming year. One would continue existing operations, the other would discontinue recycling at the facility and eliminate the recycling bins in member towns. The projected budget increase for Halifax, if the existing operation continues, is 2.3%. Green and Sumner were of the opinion that Halifax should recommend maintaining the status quo, as we cannot determine what it would cost the town to take over responsibility for recycling. In 2019, said Sumner, each town will be responsible for their own recycling and composting. When the solar project goes online, said Green, it should help offset some of the waste disposal costs. Sumner said WSWMD members would be voting on the budget at their November 10th meeting. Green made a motion to recommend WSWMD continue their existing operations, as outlined in their budget proposal, with a 2.3% budget increase. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
Review 2017 Health Insurance Plans
Sumner suggested postponing this discussion until the full Board is present. We have one more meeting before the deadline, he said. Combs asked whether premiums were increasing. Roughly 3-4%, considerably less than the national average, Sumner told him.
Town Garage Well PFC Testing
Sumner received a phone call from KAS Engineering immediately before tonight’s meeting advising that the PFC test results on the old landfill at the Town Garage had exceeded permissible limits. We will have to do further testing with in a prescribed radius, but we won’t have the specifics until the State has examined the findings. Sumner told Combs the PFC testing was required after it was learned that the Halifax landfill was capped with sludge from the Bennington area 21 years ago. Until this year, we were not aware of the possible presence of PFCs in that material.
Hearing of Visitors
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed, including several of the special funding requests approved at March 2016 Town Meeting. Green believes at least some of these organizations should be funded by private donation rather than tax dollars, and suggested the Town return to a policy of requiring non-profits soliciting funds to submit a petition each year. At present, a non-profit whose funding request was approved in the previous year is included on the next warning without a new petition.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and signed, including one driveway permit, and letters to two residents regarding debris in the public highway.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.