OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
January 3, 2017
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Stephan Chait, Laura Sumner, Peggy Rafus, Dora Green, Emily Blake (Deerfield Valley News), and Robbin Gabriel. Merrill Mundell arrived shortly after 7:30 p.m.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Two additions were made: Laura Sumner was present to announce a tax sale, and Brad Rafus had radio system upgrade information.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 12/20/16 regular meeting minutes with one change. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Laura Sumner, Collector of Delinquent Taxes, has scheduled a tax sale for Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. at the Town Offices. In accordance with State statute she is requesting Selectboard approval to hire an attorney for the process. Laura said she does deed research and noticing for tax sales, with Town Attorney Robert Fisher reviewing and approving the work, which saves money for taxpayers. Mitch Green made a motion to approve the Tax Collector’s recommendation to hire an attorney to process the tax sale on February 28th, 2017. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Laura also asked the Board to appoint someone who would buy a property for the town should there be no other bidders. Green made a motion to have Lewis Sumner stand in at the delinquent tax sale to bid on property in the absence of other bidders. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
PFC Testing Update
Lewis Sumner announced that PFC test results had been received from KAS Engineering. The private Rafus well tested negative, while the MW-4 well at the closed landfill showed 4.8 ppt (parts per trillion), well below the State’s permissible level of 20 ppt. Does negative mean zero?, asked Stephan Chait. Yes, answered Sumner. Peggy Rafus wanted to know whether the wells would be tested again. She would like to have her well and property monitored on the same schedule as the landfill, because PFCs were found in the landfill. Peggy also has concerns for the men working at the town garage and suggested that well be tested.
Chait, who shares the position of Windham Regional Commission Representative with Everett Wilson, told the meeting he and Wilson had discussed the PFC situation with WRC Director Chris Campany and Associate Director Susan McMahon. Under WRC’s brownfield reuse initiative program, the Commission has the ability to assist financially and technically with PFC testing. While the PFC situation does not fit specifically into the brownfield category, there is a waiver process by which funds may be made available. Chait said WRC is open to getting a letter from the town expressing interest in this type of assistance. State Representative John Gannon has also spoken with WRC, and as a result of that conversation the Commission will be exploring the possibility of test cost reduction through cooperation with other towns in need of the same services. Both Susan McMahon and Everett Wilson have experience with and knowledge of testing protocols, added Chait. Wilson in particular has prior experience with water testing protocols and has offered his assistance to the town. Sumner recommended the Board send a letter of interest to WRC, and perhaps invite them to attend a meeting.
Brad Rafus expects the State will require testing on a yearly basis. We still don’t have a handle on how far the contamination has traveled beyond the test points, he said. Chait said WRC may have resources to assist in understanding the hydrology of the land around the landfill. There was some further discussion about liability; Green remarked the state should pay testing costs, as they agreed to the sludge import. Peggy Rafus advised the town had issued a permit allowing sludge to be brought in, although the action was illegal according to a town ordinance in effect at that time. Sumner made a motion to have Gabriel draft a letter and send it to WRC on behalf of the Selectboard, prior to the WRC brownfield committee meeting on Friday. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner said we might have to test twice a year—spring and fall—as has been done in the past with other monitored sites. In further discussion, Peggy Rafus said we need more information. She would like to have someone well-versed on the PFC subject come and speak to concerned citizens. I need you to offer me something that will make me feel better, she said. Gabriel will invite Kasey Kathan, of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, to the next Board meeting. There is a very complex protocol involved in the testing, said Chait; was the protocol used for the landfill tests designed by the engineer? Yes, Sumner responded, there were eight or ten pages to the protocol, and the testing was done by Northern Lakes Services in Cranston, Wisconsin.
The Selectboard has begun researching alternatives to recycling bins in town, as WSWMD is closing that portion of their operation. As a preliminary to sending out bid requests, Gabriel has spoken with several vendors who provide service in our area. Merrill Mundell said Wilmington is planning to solicit bids. Sumner said that thus far in FY17, WSWMD has done 29 hauls from Halifax; 21 tons of mixed paper and 18 tons of containers. TAM Waste Management (Bennington), pays $35-40 per ton for waste paper, and charges $20 per ton for glass, plastic, and tin. Hauling fee is $250 per haul, container charge is $350. Goodenough Rubbish Removal and Triple-T Trucking would both like an opportunity to bid. Green said the Board should continue to gather information and create a bid request. Windham Solid Waste has provided a template for the request and is willing to help modify it to fit Halifax needs. Another option, Mundell said, would be for Halifax to work with a town which has a transfer station.
Merrill Mundell is next on the agenda, said Sumner, but we will take care of other business first, as we will be going into executive session. What is the topic?, asked Chait. Mundell did the survey of the property on Branch Road (the Boyko parcel), adjacent to the Town Garage property, responded Sumner.
Radio System Upgrade
The highway department’s radio system often fails crew members needing to communicate when out on town roads. Rafus advised R&R Communications has examined the radios and repeaters, and determined that the repeater is much too small for the terrain, and the radios are low wattage. R&R provided an estimate of $11,000 to upgrade the system to a strength that would cover 85% of the town’s terrain. It’s not good to have the men out there at three or four o’clock in the morning with no means of reaching anyone, said Rafus. Green recommended soliciting several additional bids. Sumner suggested looking at the situation again after the first of July, when the town has an expectation of one more $15,000 grant from VY.
Hearing of Visitors
Executive Session—Merrill Mundell
Sumner made a motion to enter executive session to discuss a land survey, with Merrill Mundell and Gabriel invited to the session. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The Board entered executive session at 7:51. They exited the session at 8:25, 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 filed. The Vermont State Police six-month contract was signed. The Board received 2016 equalization study results from the Vermont Department of Taxes. The town’s CLA (common level of appraisal) is 108.2%, and the COD (coefficient of dispersion) is 16.91%. These numbers indicate that town-wide reappraisal will not be required this year.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:33 p.m.