OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
January 5, 2016
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Doug Grob, and Brad Rafus were present, as were Blaise McGarvey, Ray Combs, Janet Taylor, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Cara Cheyette, Peggy Rafus, Steven Barrows, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Doug Grob mentioned that tree-cutting is underway on Hatch School Road power lines. Lewis Sumner said the town has no jurisdiction over the work, and Brad Rafus explained that utility companies have easement agreements with property owners when lines cross private lands. New poles are being put up closer to the road, Sumner said. Grob also said he’d had some complaints about the condition of Deer Park Road.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Sumner made a motion to accept the 12/15/15 regular meeting minutes with two corrections. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. In discussion, Grob asked about follow-up on Andy Rice’s recommendations for changes to the Constable position. An article will be included in the town warning for a Town Meeting vote, advised Sumner.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 12/18/15 special meeting minutes with two corrections. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. During this meeting with Savoy Engineering, specifics of the town garage insulation project were discussed. Does electrical work need to be done in advance of the insulating?, asked Grob. Lighting fixtures will remain as they are, replied Sumner. Rafus is working on a Windham Regional Commission grant which—if obtained—will defray 50% of the cost of changing garage lighting fixtures to LED. The present lighting system uses mercury-filled bulbs, and replacements are hard to find. WRC is working up a cost estimate for the changeover.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 12/21/15 special meeting minutes as written. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Sumner announced this meeting had been called for the purpose of setting a date for a Selectboard hearing on the revised zoning regulations. That public hearing will be held January 13, 2016, 7:00 p.m., at the Town Offices.
Savoy Engineering RFQ
The Board reviewed proposed quote request wording provided by Savoy Engineering for installation of foam insulation for the town garage. Bid invitations will be mailed to contractors, published in the Reformer, and posted online and on local bulletin boards with a January 26th submission deadline. Sumner told Ray Combs that Savoy Engineering had written up the specifications for the bid request, and at least three bids will be solicited. Is he (Savoy) local?, asked Combs. Yes, replied Sumner, he’s in Westminster. I’ve worked with him through the years; he’s a good engineer, and well-respected. The Selectboard set a special meeting for January 26, 2016, 6:30 p.m., to open bids. Funding for the project has already been included in the proposed FY17 budget; once formal bids are received there will still be time to make any necessary adjustments prior to finalizing the budget.
Planning Commission Request for Town Plan Approval
During their December 8th, 2015, meeting the Planning Commission approved a motion asking the Selectboard to submit the Halifax Town Plan to Windham Regional Commission for approval. The current Town Plan was approved by the voters on March 4, 2014, but has never gone through the WRC approval process. Cara Cheyette said that the town would be eligible for a variety of grants once WRC plan approval is in place. Sumner made a motion to submit the March 4, 2014 Town Plan to Windham Regional Commission for approval. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
AFLAC offers supplemental insurance policies which pay over and above standard insurances on events such as accident, sickness, disability, and cancer. Coverage is made available through an agreement between the provider and the Town to full-time, part-time, and volunteer employees at no cost to the Town itself; all premiums are paid by the individual. Sumner verified for Cheyette that if the town chooses to make AFLAC available to employees premiums rates should be lower than if the insurance were purchased on an individual basis. He told Combs that enrollment is voluntary and participants can pick the type of coverage they want. Sumner made a motion to invite AFLAC representative Janet Hoffmann to explain the insurance and answer questions. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Gabriel will ask Hoffman to speak at the February 2, 2016 regular Selectboard meeting.
Selectboard Annual Report
The Board made several edits to their annual report and approved it for inclusion in the FY15 Town Report. Cheyette asked about mailing costs for the town report. We aren’t mailing them, said Sumner; we voted two years ago to have people pick them up at the Town Office, or they can call the Town Clerk to have a copy mailed. Will it be on the web site, asked Cheyette. Once the report has been completed and sent to the printer, Gabriel hopes to receive an electronic copy from the auditors which can be posted online prior to Town Meeting Day.
Executive Session (if necessary)
No executive session was held.
Grob said he had received several complaints about ruts on Deer Park Road. It’s going to happen this time of year, with the constant freeze and thaw, said Rafus. That’s Vermont, added Sumner.
Hearing of Visitors
Jesse Ferland recalled that some time ago Stephan Chait had prepared a letter for submission to Act 250 regarding the Denison application. The letter went to the town attorney, Ferland said, but I haven’t heard anything more. We met with Bob Fisher in executive session, and he felt the letter wasn’t quite appropriate, said Sumner. Grob said Edee Edwards had worked on that letter—a proposed findings of fact–but the District Commission had not requested findings from interested parties at that point. Cheyette told the Board the Environmental Commission had just issued a recess order setting various dates for receipt of outstanding applicant submissions and responses, with a final deadline of February 5 for proposed findings of fact submissions from interested parties.
Ray Combs commented that roads appeared to be holding up better in spots where gravel containing larger stone was laid down last year. The stone wasn’t larger, responded Rafus, it’s inch-and-a-half—state spec–but the gravel came from a different supplier and there was more stone in it. Rafus said some people had complained the stone made driving more difficult.
The annual road classification report to the state is due in February; Janet Taylor brought in documentation showing Josh Road is legally a town trail. That information will be included in the report so highway maps can be updated. A question was also raised about Ballou Mountain Road beyond the maintained portion which is Class 3. The Board believes the unmaintained portion reverted to landowners after 2007, after the expiration of the State’s deadline for identifying and reporting ancient roads.
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 equalized education property value report from the Vermont Department of Taxes has been received, and shows the town’s 2015 coefficient of dispersion as 18.56%. The Board also received a citizens’ petition for an article on the town warning to repeal zoning regulations.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:36 p.m.