OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
September 20, 2016
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:02 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Stephan Chait, Ray Combs, Patty Dow, and Homer (Chum) Sumner.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Lewis Sumner added discussion of retirement benefits and landfill custodial care to the new business agenda.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Sumner made a motion to accept the 9/6/16 regular meeting minutes as written. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Mitch Green, who arrived at the end of the 9/6 meeting, abstaining.
This item was tabled as no Windham Solid Waste representatives were present. It will be on a future agenda after rescheduling is arranged.
Town Garage Roof
Rafus reported a leak in the garage roof after a recent short, hard rain with wind. The water is coming through the newly-applied foam insulation in only one spot, but we don’t know where it is coming from, he said. Sumner suggested locating someone to seal the leak as a temporary fix, as we are getting close to winter. Rafus recommended asking Savoy Engineering for a vendor list. In further discussion, Rafus told Ray Combs the roof has been inspected several times in the past, with opinions differing about whether the problem was caused by condensation or leakage. Stephan Chait proposed also asking advice about a plan for a permanent fix. Sumner made a motion to have Gabriel ask Phil Savoy for roofer recommendations. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Town Employee Retirement Plan
Earlier this summer, the Board approved retirement plan options for employees. Patty Dow has requested the wording of that approval include the group designation and the start date. Sumner made a motion to offer Group B from the Vermont Municipal Retirement Plan to the eligible highway employees and the Town Clerk effective July 1, 2017. Green seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Rafus recusing himself. Sumner and Green also signed a letter to the State outlining the steps the Town had taken in the approval process. Combs asked for a description of the plan. It’s not like a 401k, explained Dow. Benefits are related to both the amount paid in and years of service. Employees who opt for Plan B when it is available have to stay in for three years to be fully vested.
Landfill Custodial Care Plan
Sumner has received a letter from the State Waste Management Division summarizing the 2016 annual inspection report for the closed Halifax landfill, and explaining the requirement for a post-closure custodial management plan. Sumner and Rafus told Chait that the custodial care includes yearly mowing, and controlling sumac growth. Yearly inspections will no longer be necessary.
Hearing of Visitors
Chait had questions about the recently revised purchasing policy. Specifically, he referenced item #12 in the policy, Professional Services, which reads as follows: “The bid process shall not apply to the selection of providers for services that are characterized by a high degree of professional judgment and discretion including legal, financial, auditing, engineering, risk management, and insurance services.” Why not use the bid process for these services, to get competitive pricing? asked Chait. Board members had several responses. Some of these services—insurance, risk management—are administered through VLCT, so are already competitive. As to legal, the Town retains the services of an appointed attorney. Why not solicit bids for legal services? asked Chait. Green commented that he would like to put this discussion on a future meeting agenda, as he wanted time to consider the issue. Chum Sumner told the Board that under state law, the School must put any purchase over $15,000 out to bid. This law does not apply to the Town. Rafus explained that a few years ago the Town’s policy required bids for expenditures over $3,000, then that cap was raised to $10,000. Those restrictions resulted in high advertising costs and minimal response, so the ceiling was raised to $25,000, with commodities excluded. Rafus also spoke about past experiences with low bidders who did not provide the Town with the expected quality of service or product. Those choices proved costly for the Town. I have a hard time with policies, he concluded, because policies override common sense.
Was the (paving) problem on Green River Road due to poor paving or the quality of the mix? asked Combs. It was the mix, said Sumner. There were four towns which had the same problem.
There was some general discussion about solar; Green had spoken to a solar panel designer who said solar projects weren’t economically feasible, and Chum Sumner would like to know what provisions will be made for panel disposal once they are no longer functional.
Chait asked about the Branch Road property survey; it has been scheduled, but probably won’t happen for a while.
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:07 p.m.