OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
April 5, 2016
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:45 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Brad Rafus, and Mitch Green were present, as were Doug Grob, Linda Lyon, Ray Combs, Paul Taylor, Janet Taylor, Stephan Chait, Rick Gay, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Kaitlin Stone, Cara Cheyette, Michael Fournier, Peggy Rafus, Wayne Courser, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
The Board met in executive session on March 29th to conduct PC/ZBA candidate interviews. They now reconvened for a final interview with Linda Lyon who was not available for the March 29th session. The Board exited executive session at 7:00 p.m., with no decisions made.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 3/22/16 regular meeting minutes with one correction. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 3/29/16 special meeting minutes as written. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Open Tandem Truck Bids
Five bids were received for a new tandem truck, as follows:
Delurey Sales and Service, Inc., North Hoosick, New York (first bid): International Model 7600 SBA 6×4 truck with Viking equipment, $171,135, less trade-in of 2005 International 7500 4×2 dump with plow and attachment, $17,500. Options offered: 4000 Series Allison automatic transmission, $10,000; 4500 Series Allison automatic transmission, $11,500; front and rear shock absorbers, $850. Approximate delivery date, October 1, 2016.
McDevitt Trucks, Inc., Manchester New Hampshire (truck only): 2017 Mack tandem dump truck, $129,855. 120-day delivery to body company. Full packet of specs included; to be reviewed.
Patriot Freightliner, Westminster, Vermont: 2017 Western Star cabin chassis, Model 4700SF, $111,673 with standard transmission; automatic transmission option, $9,500. Extended five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty option, $7,839. Total chassis price $119,512, minus $20,000 trade-in allowance on 2005 7500 International. Total sale price, $99,512. Two different equipment packages offered: HP Fairfield, $64,425; Viking $60,850.
Delurey Sales and Service, Inc., North Hoosick, New York (second bid): Same truck as detailed above, but with HP Fairfield equipment, $174,710. Trade-in as above ($17,500).
Clark’s Truck Center, Jericho, Vermont: 2017 International tandem dump truck with HP Fairfield equipment package, Everest body and plow, $187, 442. (Equipment package price, $64,425.) Trade-in on 2005 International, $28,000. Viking equipment package option, $60,850. Other options and warranty detailed in package.
Rafus and Keith Stone will review specification details on all bids; an award decision will be made at the April 19th regular Selectboard meeting. Ray Combs asked whether all trucks were the same size with the same engines and all-wheel drive. Not all-wheel, answered Rafus; trucks are all tandem with 14-foot bodies. Western Star uses a Detroit motor, International is a Cummins-style, and Mack has their own engine. The Internationals would be much like what the town has now, with the most recent emissions package, for greater efficiency. Do they provide estimated fuel usage, asked Stephan Chait. Yes, Rafus responded but usage varies a great deal with terrain.
Josh Road Bridge Discussion
Rafus told the Board a landowner on Josh Road is planning to build a house in the future. When the Josh Road bridge was rebuilt a few years ago the State rated it at 6,000 pounds without further improvements. Presently the rating isn’t high enough to accommodate a one-ton truck. The bridge needs at least an 18,000-pound rating to allow reasonable vehicular travel. Rafus recommended requesting an inspection by VTrans to learn what needs to be done to increase the legal load limit. Cara Cheyette asked how many properties were served by the bridge, and wondered why a one-ton vehicle wasn’t legal if the bridge was rated at 6,000 pounds. There is a camp out there, said Rafus, a driveway has been put in, and there will be a residence in the future. Green said “one-ton” simply refers to the weight of the load; gross vehicle weight of a one-ton vehicle is 10-11,000 pounds. It’s a Class 3 road, Rafus told Combs; we’re responsible for the bridge. Rafus will talk to VTrans to set up an inspection.
Sumner said Linda Lyon’s and Stephan Chait’s terms on the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment had expired, and asked for nominations for those positions. Green made a motion to nominate Turner Lewis for a three-year term on the Planning Commission. Brad Rafus seconded the nomination. Sumner asked for other nominations. Rafus nominated Kaitlin Stone for a three-year term on the Planning Commission. Green seconded the nomination. Sumner called for discussion. Doug Grob asked whether Lyon and Chait were being considered for nomination. Sumner said yes. Grob praised Chait, saying he (Chait) was a great asset to the town and it would be unwise to ignore a candidate who “knows so much more about this than any of us here.” I think he should be nominated, added Grob. I would say the same for Linda (Lyon), said Paul Taylor. They are both highly intelligent folks who have put a great deal of effort into it. I’m assuming you will make your choice based on qualifications; how are the qualifications of those being nominated superior to those of Ms. Lyons and Mr. Chait? We interviewed all the candidates, responded Sumner. I know there are a lot of people in town upset about the Zoning Board’s decision (on the Denison conditional use permit). Grob equated the Board’s nominations with anti-zoning. The new zoning regulations were accepted by the town, do you want to throw zoning out?, he asked. That’s not what we’re talking about tonight, said Sumner. It’s our job to make a decision, said Green. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the most qualified person. If the ZBA had made a different decision, would you be changing the composition of the Board?, asked Cheyette. That’s not at all what we are saying, responded Green. The ZBA decision has cost the town a lot of money, said Sumner, and it hasn’t even reached the courts yet. Cheyette felt the Board should explain the reasoning behind their decision, as interviews were held in executive session. My decision was based on the person I thought could do the job best, answered Green. We had a lot of candidates. Based on answers to my interview questions, my choice was Turner Lewis.
There were further questions about candidate qualifications. Are there specific qualifications required to be on the Board, asked Peggy Rafus. If not, that shouldn’t be an area of discussion. Green said the only qualification, to his knowledge, is that the majority of the Board needs to reside in the town. The Selectboard Handbook warns against cronyism and nepotism, said Cheyette, unless those people are truly the most qualified people. What would you say, with respect to Kaitlin, that this is more an example of cronyism, where qualifications aren’t the issue, but friendship is. Several people in the audience took exception to this remark, and Peggy Rafus added she was not comfortable with Cheyette recording the meeting without permission. At this point, Kaitlin Stone took the floor. I’m twenty-three, she said; I’m young, and I might not be as smart as everyone here, or have all the knowledge you have. But my boyfriend (Mike Fournier), who works for the town, and I are building a house at 925 Tucker Road. I plan on living my life here; I plan on getting involved and learning. I’m not doing this to make you upset, I’m doing this because I want to learn, and do something for my town. My grandfather was Town Treasurer for 53 years; my great-grandfather was a Justice of the Peace. I’m just trying to follow in my family’s footsteps.
Are you ready for the question, asked Sumner, and received an affirmative. The motion to nominate Kaitlin Stone and Turner Lewis for three-year terms on the Planning Commission passed, 3-0.
Green nominated Turner Lewis for a three-year term on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Rafus seconded the nomination. Sumner asked for further nominations. Rafus nominated Kaitlin Stone for a three-year term on the ZBA. Sumner seconded the nomination. The nominations passed, 3-0. Sumner thanked everyone for their participation.
Sumner nominated Robbin Gabriel as Selectboard secretary and Administrative Assistant for one year. Rafus seconded the nomination, which passed, 3-0.
Hearing of Visitors
Doug Grob compared the taxes on Russell Denison’s property to those on his (Grob’s) mother’s property in Halifax, saying that Denison was getting a tax break and made a profit from logging. Referring to Denison’s speech at Town Meeting, Grob said he didn’t understand Denison’s attitude.
Jesse Ferland said he had been in town for twenty-five years and had been to many meetings. He felt a number of people weren’t able to reason with the Board on the PC/ZBA appointment decisions because interviews were not held publicly. He said that in all the years he has been here Lyon and Chait are the two most intelligent people who have given their time and energy in serving the town. I would like to hear the Board thank them for serving, said Ferland.
Mike Fournier made the point that, when Doug Grob was interviewed and appointed as Selectman, he was not the person most qualified for the job. However, said Fournier, in my opinion he did an extraordinary job. It is too bad he didn’t serve longer.
Wayne Courser said he has been fire chief for forty-six years, and has never collected a penny. We appreciate everything you’ve done, said Ferland. I’d be the first one to thank you.
Green, in response to Ferland’s earlier comments, recommended a letter of thanks be drafted to Lyon and Chait.
Courser read a short letter which stated, in part, that he was pleased with Town Meeting election results for Selectmen. I believe all three have good judgment and common sense, he said.
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed or signed, including one driveway permit and one overweight permit.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:53 p.m.