OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
April 19, 2011
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7: 30 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards. Others in attendance were Joseph F. Tamburrino, Sirean M. LaFlamme, Timothy Putnam, Margo Avakian, Earl Holtz, Charlene Martynowski, Gretchen Becker, Rick Gay, Raymond A. Combs, Linda L. Combs, Chris Estep, Nathan Isles, Orrin Isles, Rose Lea Alboum, Howard Alboum, Curtis Carroll, Maggie Bartenhagen, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Ms. Edwards noted that there were corrections to the minutes of the April 5, 2011 meeting. On page one under Bridge and Blacktop grant, the second sentence should say “Ms. Edwards gave a summary of the recommended road standard changes as a result of Act 110” as this would be clearer. She advised Act 110 is a watershed protection act. The second change was on page 4, just above item #2, she added the words ‘to review’ at the end of the sentence. Also on page 4, the first sentence in the paragraph above, the sentence should end with “he did not sell any wood”, and “He left it with adjacent landowners” should be a separate sentence.
With those corrections she moved to approve the minutes of the April 5, 2011 meeting.
Mr. Sumner seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.
Ms. Edwards moved to approve the minutes of the April 15, 2011 special Selectboard meeting with one spelling correction.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion which carried 2-0-1, with Mr. Sumner abstaining as he was not at that meeting.
- Statement regarding comments by Mary Brewster and others.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that he had a prepared statement that he would like to read into record. A copy of that statement is attached to these minutes and incorporated by reference. At the end of his statement he advised he would take comments.
Ms. Edwards advised she had a comment regarding his statement that it was obvious that she had prior knowledge of a topic (an Ethics Policy) to be brought up (by Earl Holtz) under Hearing of Visitors. She advised that she has heard peoples’ concerns about a conflict of interest policy and when she had been looking through the shared Selectboard mail folder she had seen those policies again. When the topic was brought up she remembered there was something in the mail folder, but she had no prior knowledge that the topic would be brought up at this meeting.
Mr. LaFlamme stated “I apologize if I was incorrect, but this measure is still going to benefit.” Ms. Edwards advised that she just wanted to clarify that her pre-knowledge of the topic was untrue, and she felt the comment was not fair to her.
Mr. Holtz advised he also wanted to make the same comment, and stated that he had brought up the topic two years ago, and had provided the Board with samples which they ignored. He then asked Mr. LaFlamme why he would now sit there and make the statement he did which is a bald-faced lie.
Mr. LaFlamme advised he was addressing a particular evening, and that evening it appeared that Ms. Edwards was aware that the topic was going to be brought up. That is the only issue he was pointing out.
Mr. Holtz reiterated that he had brought the ethics/conflict of interest policy topic up numerous times before and that it had been brought up at the informational meeting before Town Meeting when he and Mr. Sumner were running against each other for Selectboard. He further stated that because the election was so close he felt it was “prudent for me to bring it up a second time in here to say over half the town was concerned with this issue and wanted it acted upon”. He further stated that if town committees need a policy then the Selectboard should also be required to follow the same rules. He advised that he has brought this up again and again and stands behind his statements. He then said “and I didn’t sit here and talk to Edee about it, so that’s just a falsehood, yet another one.
Mr. LaFlamme advised “I am correcting this practice.”
Mr. Holtz replied, “The practice of making false comments. Tell me what practice you are correcting.”
Mr. LaFlamme advised the practice of keeping to the agenda. He advised that his phone number is posted in several places, so if someone wants an item to be discussed they only need to call him and request that it be put on the agenda. This gives everyone a chance to be prepared for the topic.
- Vermont fiber connect, high speed internet grant for the school
Ms. Edwards advised she asked this to be on the agenda because in an earlier special meeting the Selectboard and the School Board had met to discuss this fiber connect grant to bring high speed internet to the school. She explained the differences between the various wired and wireless services. A copy of the information sheet she provided is attached to these minutes and incorporated by reference.
Ms. Edwards noted that she had heard that the School Board might decline the offer.
Mr. LaFlamme advised he had spoken with Chum Sumner and the school board had voted to decline the offer. The reasons seem to be that they would have to pay more and there was a long term commitment they were wary of. There is a school board work session scheduled at the school on Wednesday night.
Mr. Carroll advised that it would be absurd to accept a lesser speed option (DSL) for a savings of only $120 a year.
Mr. Estep advised that this fiber optic system may never be offered here again, so to pass up this opportunity would be a mistake.
Ms. Edwards advised that if the Selectboard agrees to support the school in this project they would need to consider how they can financially support the school.
Mr. Estep advised that the real question they need to decide at this time is whether or not the proposal is going to be accepted. A short discussion followed.
Ms. Edwards moved to adopt a non-binding resolution in support of the school board bringing the Sovernet Fiber Connect connection to the Halifax school.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
- Ethics, conflict of interest policy
Mr. LaFlamme advised they have reviewed three policies which are the VLCT model conflict of interest policy, the code of ethics and standards of conduct for employees and board of supervisors of the WSWMD, and the Rules of Procedure and ethics policy for the Halifax Planning Commission and ZBA.
Ms. Edwards advised that the Planning Commission and ZBA policy is more specific to those bodies and would need major adjustments to meet their needs. She also felt the WSWMD policy would not suit. She advised her choice would be the VLCT model and then glean any applicable language from the other two if they felt it was necessary. Mr. Sumner advised he also favored the VLCT model.
Ms. Edwards noted that the language in this policy states that all municipal officers either elected or appointed are covered by this policy if adopted. She suggested that they would need to be aware of other policies in place for other positions or departments to be sure there is not a conflict by adopting one for the town.
A short discussion of the application and enforcement of policies on employees and officers of the town followed.
The Board decided to use the VLCT model as a starting point and develop a draft for review and consideration for the next meeting. It will be listed again under new business on the May 3, 2011 meeting.
Mr. Holtz advised that the code of ethics should tell you how you want people to work in the town together and with the citizenry. The conflict of interest tells you what happens if you violate the code of ethics. He went on to say that they should state how each group or position works with this policy and their policy, thus personalizing this universal document to cover all of the employees and officers and incorporating all of the existing documents for the various positions. He suggested that if a group or position is violating the universal policy, then that group or position policy needs to be changed.
- Trustee to the Whitingham Free Library
Ms. Edwards advised that there were two candidates for the appointment, Stephanie Powers and Maureen Drummey.
This appointment is for this year only, it will be an elected position beginning with the next Town Meeting.
Mr. Sumner moved to appoint Stephanie Powers to fill the position of Trustee to the Whitingham Free Library until the next Town Meeting.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
Hearing of Visitors
Ø Orrin Isles advised that he had requested some information that he did not receive. He advised it was #6 on his list of requested information. He said he thought that the state came down and took samples so there should be two test results.
Mr. LaFlamme advised he only is aware of one test. He will clarify it with Brad.
Mr. Isles advised the other item was the bids for crushing, which he requested but did not receive. Mr. Isles will contact the town clerk to request the information.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that Ms. Edwards and he had met with Mr. Rafus and representatives from the state regarding the highway “town plan” and as the town will not be getting a paving grant this year, they filed out an application for a grant to cover engineering for the 75’ span bridge on Old County Road North. Hopefully they will get this grant money.
The mail was reviewed and appropriately filed.
Selectmen’s Order to Town Treasurer for bill payment
The order for payment of bills was completed and signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:16 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk