OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
August 18, 2009
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:23 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Mitchell Green, and Lewis Sumner. Others in attendance were Orrin Isles, Nathan Isles, Sigrid Arvidson and her son, Margo Avakian, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Sumner moved to accept the minutes of the August 4, 2009 meeting as written.
Mr. Green seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.
Hearing of Visitors
- Orrin Isles and his son Nathan Isles were in attendance to enter a complaint regarding not being awarded the Reed Hill Road bridge deck replacement project. Nathan Isles advised that they would like an explanation of why they were not selected when they were clearly the low bidder, because when they read the minutes of the meeting it only said theirs was felt to not be a real bid. He advised that they have experience constructing bridges and had spent hours checking the costs and developing their bid. He referred to a bridge on Route 112 as an example of their work, which was constructed in the 1980’s. He noted they had sent a letter to the town regarding this matter on the recommendation of Dan Pierson, the head of the Construction Division for the State of Vermont. He requested an explanation from the Board as to why they were not selected, and what they proposed to do about it.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that there was such a large difference between
their bid and the next lowest bid, which was the one selected, that the Board felt that their bid was not realistic in terms of being able to complete the work for that amount. Given that and the fact that the Board had no prior experience with them on a project of this type contributed to their decision to accept another bid.
Orrin Isles advised the town has been buying gravel from them so they have had experience with them. He further advised that the Board should have called them in and asked for an explanation of the difference in the amount, before they “threw us out”. “Believe me, my numbers are correct. I don’t know what other people do, I know what, according to Mr. Rafus, what Renaud Bros. did, how they came up with their numbers, they didn’t care if they had the work, they took a number from a bridge, a deck that they did in…….. the recent past and they doubled it and that’s the number. If we get it good, and if we don’t. I know we put our numbers together. We were asked to bid it. Obviously Mr. Rafus felt we were qualified, which we are. And just to say I don’t think they can do it for that, have you ever built a bridge deck?
Mr. Green advised that the way the process works is that the Board makes a decision on whether or not to accept any or all bids and they have the right to not accept the low bid. In this case they decided to not accept the low bid.
Orrin Isles advised they do have the right to not accept the low bid with an explanation. You can’t just say they are not going to accept the low bid. He then addressed Mr. LaFlamme regarding awarding of bids for the ice storm cleanup and landfill hillside reclamation and cleanup. He noted that in those instances the town went with the low bidder.
Mr. Green advised that they sometimes do so but are not required to accept low bid. They are elected to do what is in the best interest of the town, and there are other considerations besides low bid.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that it was the opinion of the Road Commissioner and the Board that this was not a realistic bid. The Board was not comfortable with the distance between the amount of their bid and the next lowest bid.
Orrin Isles advised that according to Mr. Peterson of the state the Board has to answer the question ‘based on what?’
The conversation continued with both Isles’ bringing up past bids and the results of those bids. They insisted that they should have been the winning bid and that they would pursue this complaint against the decision.
They intimated that unless a firm has “an in” with the town they are not going to get any bid. Nathan Isles advised that he has known Bradley Rafus for years and especially in the last 6 years when they have sold gravel to the town. Orrin Isles advised that what bothered him is that if the Board is saying Bradley concurred with them, but Bradley knew they were using Carrera, the Board should have tabled the bids and made some phone calls to ask about the bids.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that he was sorry that they were upset with the decision, but it might have gone differently if they had attended the meeting when the bids were opened. The Isles’ advised they should have been told to attend the meeting, and then they would have. Mr. LaFlamme advised that when paving bids are on the agenda most of the bidders have a representative at the meeting just to insure that questions are answered.
Nathan Isles advised that before they received the letter from the town he had called the town yard and spoke to ‘one of the guys’ and he said ‘oh yeah, LaFogg & Hathaway’ and told him the amount. He further advised that he and his father had gone to talk with Bradley about it.
After a further short discussion, Mr. LaFlamme advised them to speak with Brad Rafus about being notified of all bids, to insure that they are included in the process. Orrin Isles advised that when they spoke with Bradley he had said to them “I can’t believe they didn’t go with you, ‘cause you’re qualified.” I asked him, “do you think we’re qualified?” and he said “Absolutely, that’s why you got a bid letter.” “So for him to say he went against us, just doesn’t quite sit with us.”
Nathan Isles requested that they be notified of all projects the town is putting out to bid.
Orrin Isles advised that this experience has given him doubts whether the town will ask them to bid again or even if the town will continue to buy gravel from them. He advised that they have filed a formal complaint with the state, and although he expects the state will side with the town, he wanted to stand up for what he feels is correct.
- Sigrid Arvidson and her son were in attendance to request direction regarding a situation on her road. She advised that there is a lifestyle difference between her neighbors and herself. She advised that the problem is with the level of noise from next door. During the day there is a lot of activity with children, which is to be expected and is not a problem. The problem develops in the evening and nighttime when they are trying to sleep. She needs her rest as she works during the day, and her children need their rest as well. The other problem is with the neighbor’s constantly barking dogs which sometimes goes on for hours. She has tried to talk with them about it, but it continues. Relations with the neighbors broke down last year and so now she has called the Constable when it becomes unbearable. She advised that Andy Rice has been very diplomatic about it and it was his suggestion that she come to the Selectboard for direction. She advised that she doesn’t have a problem with their lifestyle, only with the noise level.
Mr. Green moved to send a letter and a copy of the ordinance to George & Margaret Squiers.
Mr. Sumner seconded the motion, which carried 3-0.
The Board gave Ms. Arvidson a copy of the Animal Control Nuisance
Ordinance and advised they will send a letter and a copy of the ordinance to the neighbor, and that there are civil penalties for not complying with the ordinance. She thanked the Board for there time but cautioned them that due to a previous situation, she is fearful that there will be an escalation of animosity toward her and her family after the letter is sent.
New Business deferred due to non-attendance by persons requesting to be heard.
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 8:47 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk