OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
August 6, 2013
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:31 pm at the town office. Board members in attendance were Edee Edwards and Earl Holtz (Lewis Sumner was absent). Others in attendance were Jessica Bruno, Greg Marguet, Cara Cheyette, Patty Dow, and Ray Combs.
Approval of Minutes
Edwards made a motion to accept the minutes of the July 16, 2013 regular meeting with a small correction. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.
Edwards made a motion to accept the minutes of the July 22, 2013 regular meeting as amended. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.
Edwards made a motion to accept the minutes of the July 29, 2013 regular meeting with a small correction. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.
Halifax Town Tax Rate
Edwards made a motion to set the Halifax town tax rate for FY14 at a Homestead rate of $1.9810 and a Non-residential rate at $2.0462. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.
It was noted that these rates went up primarily due to the school tax rate increase. The municipal tax rate decreased slightly.
Bruno presented a Halifax Website Strategic Plan for use as a guide when developing website improvements as part of the VT Digital Economy Project grant. A copy of the plan can be found attached.
Edwards made a motion to adopt the Halifax Website Strategic Plan. Holtz seconded the moeion, which passed 2-0-0.
Bruno discussed the possibility of converting our town website to a WordPress site as part of the grant. Specially designed templates for municipalities have been developed, it is a more widely used program, and free training will be provided. The Selectboard agreed that they were fine with switching to WordPress. It was noted that WordPress itself is free, but the town will have to pay for hosting which averages about $2-5 a month (which is about the same as the cost of using Weebly).
Rescue, Inc. Update
Cheyette reported that there are a lot of changes going on at Rescue, Inc. Mark Considine resigned as Chief of Operations in April but he is willing to serve through the end of December and help with the transition. Rescue, Inc. is thinking about the structure of the organization and how they would like to be led. They are considering the hiring of an executive director who will help with changes to the healthcare delivery system. Drew Hazleton is the interim chief. They are exploring new revenue opportunities. Cara reminded everyone of the Subaru Crosstrek raffle- details can be found here: http://www.rescueinc.org/raffle.shtml.
Edwards remarked that she is hoping to receive a mid-year update from Rescue, Inc. (the town was receiving a quarterly newsletter).
Hale Road Bridge Change Order Request
Holtz reported that after a recent rainstorm, they had to put in a ditch and riprap which was above the original scope of work. SVE Associates approved the work and Holtz took pictures of the work on 7/31/13.
Edwards made a motion to approve the change order issued 8/1/13 to amend Hale Road culvert replacement by $500 for additional erosion control measures. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.
Planning & Zoning Vacancies & Board Size
The Selectboard discussed the current Planning & Zoning Board vacancies. Phyllis Evanuk notified the Selectboard that they are authorized to have 3 to 9 members on the Planning & Zoning Boards. Evanuk asked them to consider going down to a 5 person Board as they are unable to hold about 25% of their meeting due to a lack of quorum. Edwards had sent messages to the current members of those Boards regarding this discussion tonight but did not hear from any of them regarding their thoughts on stepping back to a 5 person Board. Edwards did throw out an idea of potentially merging the Broadband Committee with the Planning Board. The Selectboard did not make any decisions regarding the Board size as they are missing one member of the Selectboard tonight. The group was reminded that the town plan public hearing is August 17th at 10am at the town office. Greg Marguet offered to serve on the Planning and Zoning Board. As the Boards are currently short two members and a decision had not been made whether to pare down to 5 person Boards, the Selectboard thanked him but were not prepared to make an appointment.
Hearing of Visitors
The visitors did not have any additional items to add.
Holtz reported that they are waiting on the close out of Hale Road Bridge. They need the final site visit and to pay the final bills.
There was a discussion about river debris and the potential for a Community Block Development Grant.
Old County North Bridge
There was a discussion about bridge weight limits. Although not confirmed by the engineer, it looks as if HS-20 has a limit of 40,000 lbs except if 2 axle which adds 32,000 lbs. The snow plow and sander are about 80,000 lbs. It was noted that the one ton plows the road and not the 80,000 lb truck. The new tandem is about 66,000 lbs. HS-25 is believed to be 50,000 lbs except if 2 axle which adds 40,000 lbs. The Selectboard needs to talk to the engineer about their concerns.
Marguet noted that there is a sand and gravel deposit on the other side of the river that could be an opportunity for the town. If that property were to be developed under Act 250, a substantial bridge could support a gravel pit. There is the opportunity to build a bridge to support that and negotiate to buy gravel at a discount for future use. He believes there could be a big opportunity of the town builds the bigger bridge. The Selectboard noted that there is a lot of speculation in that plan and they have received no indication that any of the property owners are interested in going into that business.
Holtz would like AOT to help them specify what they need to meet codes and standards.
Marguet noted that he has seen logging companies put temporary reinforcement on bridges so that they can safely carry their loads.
Guardrails for Two Bridges
The Selectboard received drawings from John Alexander and Meghan Thompson from the State of Vermont for temporary fixes to make the bridges safer.
Holtz made a motion put each temporary option to improve safety for bridge #B-13 and B-15 out to bid as recommended by the state of Vermont. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-0.
Edwards will be attending a school board meeting with Everett Wilson to discuss ADA issues. Edwards will also discuss maintenance work as part of their lease agreement, and will discuss the town plan as well.
Holtz worked with Dow to create a quarterly report of overtime for the last quarter.
The Selectboard had a discussion about placement of postings for town meetings.
Edwards made a motion to sign the contract with the VT Dept of Public Safety- State Police for 7/1/13 through 6/30/14 for not to exceed $6,000. Holtz seconded the motion which passed 2-0-0.
Edwards noted that they did not spend the full amount of last year’s budgeted amount, but with the recent reports of vandalism, we should follow up with them an express that we would like to take advantage of the full amount of time available.
It was noted that a meeting needs to be scheduled with town employees and spouses regarding health insurance and level of funding.
The mail was reviewed and appropriately filed.
Selectmen’s Order to Town Treasurer for bill payment
There was a request to apply the last two payments from the State of VT for Irene reimbursement to pay down $181,752.15 to the line of credit held by People’s Bank.
It was noted that it might be useful for a template to be designed for people to submit that receive stipends so there is some consistency.
The order for payment of bills was completed and signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 pm.