OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
April 17, 2018
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. Ray Combs, Stephan Chait, Peggy Rafus, Tim Putnam, and Robbin Gabriel were also present.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Brad Rafus requested a short discussion about the repeater tower; Lewis Sumner added Vermont State Police contract changes.
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Sumner made a motion to approve the 4/3/18 regular meeting minutes with one correction. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Open Tractor Bids
The Selectboard received one bid for a roadside mowing tractor, as follows:
HP Fairfield, Morrisville, Vermont: Used 2014 New Holland TS6 110, equipped with 21′ Diamond boom mower with 50″ flail head. 110 HP tier 3 diesel engine, $60,549. Add-on accessory: Tiger 50″ rotary disc head with brush knives and hydraulic door, $13,600. Total package, $74,149.
Ray Combs and Stephan Chait asked what tractor was being purchased. Rafus said it is a used tractor for roadside mowing; the present unit is getting very tired. The New Holland has an over-the-rail arm mower. It’s used for blowing the leaves, too, said Sumner. The Board discussed the rotary disc head offered in the bid. It puts us about $3,000 over budget, said Rafus, but over time it will save us. He explained that using the unit to blow leaves will cut time and labor costs considerably. Rafus and Keith Stone have inspected the tractor on-site and approved its condition. Was this in the budget?, asked Chait. Yes, replied Rafus; in the lease portion we budgeted $14,000 a year over five years. The Board located the expanded FY19 budget spreadsheets for Chait’s review. Mitch Green made a motion to approve the HP Fairfield bid for a used 2014 New Holland tractor for $60,549, plus a 50″ rotary disc head for $13,600. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Discuss EMD Compensation
Rafus recused himself for this item. Sumner made a motion to split the $3,000 available for Emergency Management Director compensation between Ross Barnett, who served about six months of this fiscal year, and Peggy Rafus, who is now holding the EMD position. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining. In discussion prior to the vote, Chait asked Sumner to explain the context. Is this (funding) from Vermont Yankee, and what happens now they are being bought by North Star? Sumner advised that grant funds were available for two years post-closure; $15,000 each year. That time period ends with this fiscal year, on June 30, and the Town will need to make a decision about funding thereafter. Last year, he told Combs, we upgraded the generator, and this year $12,000 of the $15,000 will cover the cost of upgrading the repeater. So how much goes to pay the EMD?, asked Chait. $3,000 responded Sumner; $1,500 for Barnett and $1,500 for Peggy Rafus. Is there a job description of what the EMD does, and how that job changes in the event of an emergency?, asked Chait. While some tasks are gone since VY closure, responded Sumner, the State says we have to oversee any emergency in the Town. The EMD is in charge of that. Chait also wanted to know about chain of command in an emergency situation. Peggy Rafus explained there were several positions to be filled during an emergency, and the EMD is responsible for making those assignments. Peggy has already completed training for two of the four ICS (Incident Command System) training levels. In an emergency, the fire house is the command center (EOC, or Emergency Operations Center), and the EMD communicates with the State. The fire department, constable, state police, and others are all involved. Chait asked if John LaFlamme had returned equipment when he retired as EMD. Yes, answered Sumner, the pagers were returned to the State once VY closed, while radios and computers came back to the Town.
Adopt 2018 Local Emergency Operation Plan
The LEOP must be updated, approved, and adopted each year, and filed with Windham Regional Commission prior to May 1st. The Selectboard reviewed and discussed this year’s changes. Green made a motion to approve the 2018 LEOP as modified. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The document was signed and will be submitted to WRC.
Rafus, who had another meeting recently with Harry Farrington to discuss the highway department’s repeater, reported that Farrington would be satisfied if the Town would exempt the storage building in which Town repeater equipment is housed from taxation. Farrington will continue to pay electricity costs, as research revealed that installing a separate meter, with the necessary new lines and connection to Farrington’s generator, would be prohibitively expensive. A contract detailing the agreement will be drawn up by the Town attorney. Sumner advised that the fire department, which also has its repeater on the property, had given Farrington a $2,000 check for past electric usage. Both the Town and the fire department will have access to the repeaters and equipment for maintenance purposes. Sumner will speak with the listers, and the Board will communicate with the Town Attorney about specifics of the contract, which will be in place before the highway department’s repeater is upgraded.
Sumner reported that VLCT would be sending a PACIF (Property and Casualty Intermunicipal Fund) representative to Halifax next Monday to perform inspections at the Firehouse and Town Garage.
Vermont State Police
Sumner said the Town has received an email from Anthony French of the Vermont State Police advising that VSP will not be renewing their contract with the Town after its June 30th expiration date. Green recommended letting it ride for now, and perhaps exploring other options. Chait asked why the contract would not be renewed. Sumner read a portion of the VSP email, which stated, “we have had several personnel changes over the past couple of years which have created a lack of interest in fulfilling town contract obligations. With that said, I’m in the process of reducing the number of towns we have.” The email, which was received just prior to Town Meeting, explained that VSP will continue to provide services as usual on regular shifts. Rafus said the contracted services were fulfilled during officers’ overtime hours, and he believes they are having a hard time finding officers who want overtime. Moving the barracks to Westminster may have played a part in the situation. Chait mentioned a bill introduced in the Senate by Jeanette White which would have prohibited the State Police from contracting with towns. I don’t think it went anywhere, he added. It sounds like this is a staffing problem. Green told Chait the Town used to have options with the sheriff’s department, but he doesn’t know whether that is still available. Towns can also have their own fully-trained constable, said Rafus. The constable’s powers are determined by their level of certification. Does the Town have to pay for schooling?, asked Combs. Board members told him those funds were already included in the Town budget.
Executive Session (if necessary)
Hearing of Visitors
Tim Putnam asked whether there were plans to do gravel work on the stretch of Hatch School Road between the Putnam residences this summer. It’s on the list, said Rafus, along with some tree removal. Putnam also wondered if the intersection at Shearer Hill Road, where the telephone pole used to be, would change. We’ll probably just leave it the way it is for now, answered Rafus.
Selectboard’s Order to Treasurer for Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
New correspondence was reviewed, and one overweight permit was signed. An invitation to the E-Z Riders Landowners’ Appreciation Dinner, to be held this coming Saturday, was received. Green and Rafus will both be out of town, but the Sumners plan to attend.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:03 p.m.