OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
December 20, 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 Stephan Chait, Ray Combs, Peggy Rafus, Tim Putnam, Dora Green, Alice Aldrich, Emily Blake (Deerfield Valley News), and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Sumner told the Board they needed to designate an alternate for drug and alcohol testing, and review an application for liquor license renewal.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 12/6/16 regular meeting minutes as written. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 12/10/15 special meeting minutes as written. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
PFC Testing Update
We haven’t received test results yet, Sumner told the meeting. We were told it would take two to three weeks. Answering a question from Alice Aldrich, Sumner said the town first became aware of possible PFC contamination through a letter from the State in September. The letter advised that State records indicated sludge had been brought in from Bennington in 1995, when the Halifax landfill was capped. The State wanted to have the landfill tested after finding contamination in sludge in Bennington. (Note: During a discussion on this topic at the Selectboard’s September 6, 2016 meeting, Shaftsbury was mentioned as the source of the sludge used to cap the landfill. While both the Shaftsbury and Bennington municipal landfills tested positive for PFCs, records from the Bennington Waste Water Treatment Plant show the material used in Halifax was trucked from the Bennington facility.) That was 21 years ago, said Sumner. I didn’t even realize sludge was trucked from Bennington until we received the State notice. Were there any other areas?, asked Ray Combs. Sumner listed Bennington, Woodford, Shaftsbury, Putney Paper, Windham Solid Waste in Brattleboro, and Bethel, as other locations which have been or are about to be tested. Aldrich doesn’t understand why the State isn’t providing funding to assist with the cost of the tests. We talked about that with our Representative (John Gannon) last meeting, responded Sumner.
Stephan Chait wondered how large an area is affected, and Sumner told him no one knew yet; the testing would determine those parameters. This led to general conversation on the location of the landfill and characteristics of water movement. Peggy Rafus said her private well was being tested, and if PFCs were found there the test area would be expanded. PFC levels in the first landfill well tested were 28.6; Vermont state permissible levels are 20 ppt (parts per trillion), while the federal (EPA) standard is 70 ppt. It (the federal level) used to be 400 ppt; it was revised last spring, said Sumner. Green noted that Hoosick Falls is negotiating a monetary settlement, and speculated about the possibility of a class action suit. The companies involved in capping the landfill (DSM Environmental and Capitol Earthmoving) are no longer in business, but the company which created the sludge is still active. Brad Rafus said each individual well test costs approximately $3,500.
Combs asked whether there were regulations at that time (1995), against bringing in sludge. Yes, he was told; the town had an ordinance, but no one was aware the material was being brought in. I would like to see the permit the town issued, said Peggy Rafus. The ordinance states that sludge cannot be brought into the town of Halifax. If it is produced here, it is permissible. All we did was sign the contract, said Sumner. The ordinance went into effect in 1989, added Green. Sumner and Green told Chait that when the town has test results that information will be in meeting minutes and posted on the web site. We should have results by our next meeting, said Sumner. Where will the money come from?, asked Aldrich. We’ll have to find it, said Sumner. We are working on the budget right now, but it’s hard to figure. We’ll keep you informed as much as we can. To clarify, said Peggy Rafus, there was no permit issued to allow sludge to be used in capping the landfill? I was on the Board then, answered Sumner, and I didn’t even know they were bringing sludge from Bennington. We had a contract, and the state approved what the contractor was doing. I know DSM Environmental is out of business, because when they closed they recommended KAS Engineering.
Discuss Recycling Options
WSWMD will be closing their recycling operation, Sumner said. The bins will be gone on June 30th, 2017. Chait asked how the loss of the service and the costs associated with WSWMD closing their recycling operation would affect the town financially. Sumner said the WSWMD FY18 budget includes a $6,535.65 assessment for Halifax. That includes the cost of clean-up at the facility, which is estimated at a total cost of $100,000. We will still have a yearly charge after that, Sumner told Combs. The plant will be open, and they are obliged to handle hazard waste, which is expensive. This year our town cost is around $10,000, so there are some savings. But if the town contracts with another company to pick up recyclables in Halifax, it will probably cost more. Sumner recommended getting prices from other businesses for handling recycling. If we withdraw from the Windham Solid Waste District, he said, the town will have to have its own plan for waste disposal. Chait described the process for people taking waste, recycling, electronics, and compost to the WSWMD Ferry Road plant in Brattleboro, and told the meeting there is a lot of information available on line (see http://windhamsolidwaste.org/). Following some general discussion on single- and double-stream recycling, the Board agreed to have Gabriel talk to vendors to learn which companies might be available to serve the town. Chait suggested WSWMD might assist in writing a quote request, and Brad Rafus proposed talking with adjacent towns to find out how they planned to handle recycling. He also thought Halifax should consider doing their own recycling in the future, maybe in conjunction with other towns. In Gilmanton, NH, he said, they handle their own recycling, and are seeing approximately $40,000 in profit after expenses each year.
Set Date to Finalize FY18 Budget
Board members set 8:00 a.m. Saturday, January 14, 2017, for a meeting to finalize the FY18 budget. Aldrich asked whether the public could come to budget meetings. Yes, said Sumner, it is an open meeting.
Alternate for Drug & Alcohol Testing
Patty Dow is currently the DER (designated employer representative) for municipal employee drug and alcohol testing; an alternate is needed to cover times that Patty is not available. As a federal requirement, CDL drivers are subject to random drug tests. When one is scheduled, explained Rafus, the DER is notified and, in turn, notifies the employee no more than four hours in advance of the test. Sumner made a motion to appoint Robbin Gabriel as alternate DER. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
VY Funding Grant Update
Sumner announced the town had received preliminary approval on the application for a $15,000 VY/DEMHS grant. The process will be final once the Department of Public Safety Commissioner signs the document.
Sumner made a motion to approve Honora Winery’s yearly application for liquor license renewal. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Board members signed the application.
Hearing of Visitors
Where do we stand with Act 46?, asked Aldrich. What is going to happen to our school? Sumner said the three school boards of Readsboro, Stamford, and Halifax have been working together to develop contracts which would result in one school board overseeing all three schools. As the towns are about the same size, said Green, the school would have equal representation. The state rejected the first plan that was submitted, Sumner continued; a revision is near completion, or may have already been sent to the state. Aldrich was concerned that Brattleboro would have more representation than Halifax. Sumner explained Halifax is not part of that district. Brattleboro is Windham Southeast Supervisory Union; Halifax is Windham Southwest. Readsboro, Stamford, and Halifax all have school choice for high school. Halifax would keep its grammar school.
Combs wondered if snow weight was a problem on the garage roof. No, said Rafus, we’ve had four feet of snow on that roof before. And presently, it is not leaking. Combs also complimented the road crew on their work during the recent storm.
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and filed. The Board signed the yearly listers errors and omissions report, and approved a flyer advertising the appointed positions which will be open after 2017 town meeting.The list will be posted on town bulletin boards and the web site. The proposed contract for the WSWMD net metering solar project has arrived and will be forwarded to the town attorney for review.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.