OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
May 2, 2017
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, Patricia Dow, Stephan Chait, Emily Blake (Deerfield Valley News), and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 4/18/17 regular meeting minutes as written. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
VTrans Paving and Structure Grants
Brad Rafus announced the Town has been awarded both a Class 2 paving grant and a Structures grant this year. Is this a full grant?, asked Green. Rafus said yes; the amount is $175,000. I think the legislature put a little more money in, said Sumner. We didn’t expect a structures grant, but we got it. The structures grant, for $50,000, will be used to renovate Deer Park bridge (#52). That bridge deck is a piece of corrugated steel with concrete poured over it, and was last replaced in 1973. The steel is rotting, and the concrete is beginning to fall through. A new concrete deck will be installed.
Rafus said the paving grant will fund paving approximately 1.2 miles of Branch Road. The Town must match 20% of the grant monies. The project includes reclaiming, Rafus told Stephan Chait, with two inches of binder, an inch of top, and shouldering. The figures are preliminary, he added, pending response to bid requests. Bid packets will be distributed, and the Board agreed on a June 6th bid deadline. Rafus said the Town does not have enough money available to pave another section of Collins Road this year. Sumner suggested using remaining budgeted Town funds to extend the Branch Road paving project to 1.45 miles, from the Route 112 intersection to a spot just below Sumner Road. We can do that and still be well within our budget, said Rafus. Combs asked how long it would take to get a grant for Collins Road. That road is Class 3, and not eligible for grant monies, said Sumner. Green told Combs we could budget funds next year for Collins Road, while Rafus said the AOT grants were on about a six-year cycle. We’ve been fortunate on structures grants in the last few years, he continued. State reimbursement on structures grants is 90%.
Landfill Post-Closure Care Certification
Sumner advised the Board has received a draft post-closure care certification packet from the State, including instructions for conducting the legal notification process. Notices will be published in the Brattleboro Reformer and the Deerfield Valley News, and mailed to landowners whose property abuts the landfill parcel. Notices will also be posted on the Town web site (Selectboard Communication page), bulletin boards, and in the Town office. Combs asked whether the landfill wells were to be tested again. Sumner explained that the Town had expected monitoring to end this year, but the discovery of PFCs will now require additional monitoring. This next certification period extends to 2027; the actual duration will be dependent on findings during yearly monitoring.
Hearing of Visitors
Stephan Chait told the Board that The Commons had published an article on the Green River Watershed Alliance project, and Windham Regional Commission is on track to submit the grant application to High Meadows. Also, he said, Windham Regional is presenting a workshop on Act 174, renewable energy, May 3rd, in Dover. Chait, Everett Wilson, and Brad Rafus plan to attend. There’s a lot of material to digest, Chait added. By next Selectboard meeting we should be able to provide an update on renewable energy requirements.
Treasurer Patty Dow has provided the Board with a year-to-date accounting of Town expenditures. Rafus asked about repaving funds reserved from the previous year. Dow said there were some reserves; a portion—slightly over $8,000—has been used. The numbers look pretty good, commented Sumner. Sand and salt have run higher. Dow said that there was enough money in the office supply budgets to purchase two desperately needed replacement computers. The following year, we may be able to replace the other two old computers, she added. This year we’ll replace the Town Clerk’s computer, which functions as our server, and one Lister computer. We have two months left in the fiscal year, said Green, and we’ve spent about two-thirds of our budget, so we’re in pretty good shape. Are we buying any equipment?, asked Combs. Not this year, Rafus answered; just a dump body for one of the trucks. We don’t have anything on our truck schedule until 2020. Our maintenance expenditures are down, because the trucks we have now are under warranty.
A search for a letter the Selectboard had received from the Listers failed to turn up the original, but copies had already been distributed, and everyone but Green had read it. Sumner said the Listers, who are currently making $16 an hour, were requesting $20, and had concerns they may run over budget this year. The Board reviewed FY17 wages and expenses to date. $20,000 was budgeted for wages in FY17, and $3,000 for mileage and expenses. Those same amounts were also budgeted for FY18, which begins July 1, 2017. Dow had calculated there were sufficient funds remaining to allow the Listers to work two days a week for the next nine weeks, or 406 hours, in the two months remaining in this fiscal year. She told Green the Listers normally work one day a week, and two or three days a week during the busy grievance season in the spring. Rafus noted that $11,800 of the allotted $20,000 had been spent by the end of April, and about two-thirds of the expenses funds remained. The budget for FY17 and FY18 has already been fixed. We can consider a request when we set the next year’s budget, said Green. We have two Listers with one year’s experience, and one brand-new, Sumner said. I know Joe Tamburrino has been out with them (on inspections) several days, and they’ve learned a lot from him; they’re getting better at it. Sumner suggested having Gabriel write a letter to the Listers advising there was no money in the budget this year, but to re-submit their request next November or December when the Board begins creating the budget for the next fiscal year. What are other towns paying?, asked Combs. We have figures from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, replied Sumner; it’s all over the place, from $9.15 to $32 an hour. It depends on the town, and some towns have outside people who do the listing. Those figures are from 2015.
Dow told the Board the special election is coming up on May 31st, but none of the costs associated with this special election vote will be charged to the Town. We will be completely reimbursed by the school district. That election, said Sumner, will be a vote to merge with Readsboro and Stamford, and to elect new School Board directors for the district. Will the School Board circulate any information about the election?, asked Chait. There will be an informational meeting on May 23rd, 7:00 p.m. in the gym, answered Dow. Sumner said an informational meeting is always required if the vote is by Australian ballot. They should print a paper to explain the process, said Green. Sumner said he expects they will; they provided an informational flyer at Town Meeting. He told Combs the new merger plan has been approved by the State, and Halifax School will remain open if the local vote approves the merge. Each town will have their own school, but there will be one Board of Directors, with three representatives from each town, and one budget. It will probably be a good thing for the three towns, because if one town loses a few students, the others might gain. I recommend we vote to merge, said Sumner. If we don’t, we could lose our $70,000 small school grant among other things, and the State could decide where our students go to school. We won’t have any say in it. Chait asked whether John Gannon had been helpful in this process. This bill was passed before Gannon was elected, answered Sumner.
Sign Orders to the Treasurer
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed. This order included the second fiscal year State Education payment of $181,042.15.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:17 p.m.