OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
August 16, 2016
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Ray Combs, Joe Tamburrino, Peggy Rafus, Patty Dow, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Brad Rafus had new information on Sumner Farm Road bridge guard rails.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 8/2/16 regular meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Land Survey—Kristine Boyko
Sumner observed no one was in attendance to speak on this subject. Sumner made a motion to have Merrill Mundell survey the Boyko property on Branch Road for an estimated amount of less than $2,000. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining, as he has recused himself from decisions in this matter.
Planning Commission/Zoning Board Vacancy
Patty Dow has volunteered to serve on the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment, to fill out the terms left open by Brian McNeice’s resignation. Green made a motion to appoint Patty Dow to the Planning Commission and Zoning Board to complete the open terms, which expires in 2018. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Town Moderator Vacancy
Paul G. Blais has submitted a letter of interest for the open Moderator position. Sumner made a motion to appoint Paul Blais as Town Moderator, until 2017 Town Meeting elections. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Purchasing Committee Recommendations
The Purchasing Committee, comprised of Joe Tamburrino, Brad Rafus, Patty Dow, and Robbin Gabriel, has submitted recommendations to the Selectboard for changes to the Town’s purchasing policy. These recommendations include raising the ceiling requiring formal bid process from $10,000 to $25,000, adding proof of worker’s compensation and contractor certifications to the list of bid criteria, and the adding a clause giving the Selectboard the right to terminate a contract for poor performance. As a money-saving tactic, Green suggested eliminating newspaper advertisements for individual bids and, instead, placing a once-a-year advertisement inviting contractors and vendors to put their names on the Town’s vendor list. Tamburrino and Rafus advocated retaining the per-project advertisement clause, as it is a FEMA requirement when determining reimbursement eligibility after a disaster. A $25,000 ceiling would decrease the number of yearly advertisements. Ray Combs asked about the previous bid maximum. It used to be $3,000, replied Sumner, then a few years ago it was raised to $10,000. Sumner made a motion to approve the purchasing policy as amended. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining.
Sumner Farm Road Bridge
Rafus has received a proposal from Renaud Bros., Inc. on the Sumner Farm Road bridge guard rail renovation. Renaud recommended restoring the existing guard rails, which will preserve the bridge’s eligibility for a historic preservation grant at some future time when the bridge needs more extensive work. That grant would cover 95% of the rebuild cost. Renaud would remove the rails to their shop, put up temporary rails, and replace the originals, including the 1915 plate, after restoration. The estimate for the right side rail, which is most damaged, is $10,000, the left side $5,000. Do we have money left in our bridge fund, asked Green. Yes, answered Sumner and Rafus, we have money left from 2015 and some from the year before. What about the abutments, asked Tamburrino. State inspection found the abutments and rails in good condition, said Sumner. Will you apply to have it designated a historic bridge, asked Tamburrino. First we would have to have a failed bridge inspection, said Rafus; the grant application process begins at that point. Green made a motion to have Renaud Bros., Inc. repair both guard rails on Sumner Farm Road bridge, for $15,000. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Collins Road paving has been pushed back another week, Rafus told the meeting. It is now scheduled to start on Monday, August 22nd. Green River Road is slated for the first week in September.
Sumner suggested sending a letter to the Planning Commission recommending a zoning regulation update to create simplified and less restrictive bylaws. I talked with a lot of people—even those who voted for repeal—who said they would like to see that happen, he said. I talked to people who didn’t understand which way to vote, added Green. There was misinformation going around. I just want to make the recommendation, said Sumner; we are not telling them what to do. Rafus suggested a joint Planning Commission/Selectboard meeting, to share ideas. Sumner thought that would be a good idea if the Planning Commission made a decision to proceed with the project. We (the Selectboard) are actually members of the Planning Commission, said Green, but we are non-voting members. Green made a motion to send a letter recommending the Planning Commission start the process of simplifying zoning bylaws. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Hearing of Visitors
How are they doing with the radios in the town trucks, asked Combs. About the same, the Board responded.
Patty Dow told the Board she is looking at new copiers, as the old one continues to fail. She is also researching a backup system for creating land record index cards. The typewriter, which is very old, is on its last legs and Dow feels the NEMRC online land record program is too expensive for our small Town. Do we have money in the office equipment fund, asked Green. I only have about $4,700 answered Dow. We would go with a color copier, which would allow the listers to print their property cards to the new machine. This would be a lot less expensive than the old printer they are using now. A new copier would be about $5,700, but the company offers a payment plan with no interest.
Dow said it would be a few more years before Halifax has another Old Home Day. I would like to plan a community block party next summer or fall, she said. Dow wants to get people together to share ideas; maybe block off the road in the village, set up a potluck, games for the kids, and perhaps a local band. I think a community-wide gathering would be a lot of fun, said Dow, and I’d love to hear from people willing to contribute ideas or help.
Internet service at the town offices has been increasingly poor. Dow has learned from Fairpoint that no upgrade is available. A new modem did not improve the situation. I had a long talk with Fairpoint, said Dow; they know we are at the end of the line, and cannot provide anything better. It is really affecting our work—it’s slower than dial-up and sometimes we can’t even open up the Fairpoint web site. Dow will be asking VTel to test our location for signal from the Halifax Center tower, and she is looking for suggestions for other options. The school has high fiber optic, but their contract prohibits sharing with the town offices. Edee Edwards checked a few years ago, said Sumner, and fiber would cost the town in the vicinity of $700 a month.
As the audience departed before executive session, Tamburrino said it had been a beautiful meeting.
Sumner made a motion to enter executive session to discuss a legal matter, with Gabriel included by invitation. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board entered executive session at 7:40 p.m. They closed the session at 8:01 p.m., with no decisions made.
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 a driveway permit on Phillips Hill Road. The amended purchasing policy was signed, as voted earlier in the meeting. WSWMD is ready to move again on their solar project, and will be holding two meetings on September 6th, at 11:00 and 7:00 p.m. A notice from Green Mountain Power advises the Town’s streetlights will be replaced with LEDs within the next two years. GMP will send another notification before they begin the work.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.