OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
December 6, 2011
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:28 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme and Edee Edwards. Lewis Sumner was absent. Others in attendance were Lynda Tefft, Larry Kingman, Joe Tamburrino, Leonard Derby, Timothy Putnam, Margo Avakian, Earl Holtz, Kathleen Sullivan, Patricia Dow, Christina Moore, Orrin Isles, Mitchell Green, Leslie Green, Carol Wright, Peter and Joan LaFogg, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Ms. Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the November 15, 2011 meeting as written with the an e added to spelling of Stowe Mountain Road.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0, and the minutes were approved.
Ms. Edwards moved to approve the November 17, 2011 ten AM meeting with the addition of the last name for the VLCT representative, Tanya Chambers, and the correction from HAS to HSA.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0 and the minutes were approved.
Approval of minutes from the November 17, 2011 8:30AM meeting, the November 21, 2011 meeting, and the December 3, 2011 meeting was deferred to the next regular meeting.
- Update on road repairs and rate of spending: Mr. LaFlamme advised that with input from Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Dow he has come up with the spending to date figure for the repairs from Irene. That amount is $1,783,482.61. This represents 210% of our FY-12 budget. Our municipal and highway budget for FY-12 is $846,643.00.
Hopefully by the end of this week, once the guardrails are installed Green River Road will be open, Stowe Mountain Road is open, and some of the contractors have been sent home.
- Ambulance services: members of the Board of Whitingham Ambulance were in attendance and they requested that Mrs. Moore be their spokesperson. She advised that with the new board and new officers and she gave a quick overview of the structure of the service and financial accounting. She further advised that having reviewed the records for three years, and taking into consideration the withdrawal of Readsboro from the three town consortium, they have determined that the financial deficit for the next calendar year will be $5,000 which they can offset by means that would not entail seeking higher contributions from the town of Halifax. (a copy of the memo detailing the items she spoke of is attached and incorporated by reference.)
- Brattleboro Savings and Loan line of credit: Mrs. Dow advised that she gave this initial pre-approval offer for credit. She advised that she will still be looking for a better interest rate than the 2.375% that they are offering. She asked for their approval to proceed with the preliminary negotiating.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that they attended the School Board meeting and requested a 121-day loan of the remaining money that the town has not yet paid to the school ($581,201.) at no interest.
- Loan from Halifax School Board: Mr. LaFlamme advised they had the actual note with the conditions.
Mr. LaFlamme moved to accept the terms of the note from the Halifax School Board.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 2-0.
- Audit of town records or one time waiver requested: Mr. LaFlamme advised that in order to get a long term bond the town is required to get an independent audit unless they are granted a waiver of the requirement. Due to the time of year (a very busy one for accountants and auditors) he advised it might be very hard to find one available to perform the audit.
Mr. LaFlamme moved to apply for a waiver to the requirement.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 2-0.
- Vacant Auditors position: will remain on the agenda.
- Committee for lessons learned from after action review: It had been suggested that this committee be formed to determine what lessons have been learned from the Irene storm and aftermath and develop plans to address them in the future. Mr. LaFlamme suggested that rather than a committee, this could be a task force as it is charged with a single task. He further advised that he is interested in serving on this task force. Others who have expressed interest in serving are Christina Moore, Maggie Bartenhagen, Everett Wilson, and Earl Holtz.
Ms. Edwards suggested they should have someone from the Road Crew, and someone from the school involved.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that because they will be a task force, the Selectboard does not need to appoint anyone. The purpose of the task force is to report their recommendations to the Selectboard, and they would welcome all of the input available.
- Branch Road property offer: Mr. LaFlamme advised they have had an offer to accept the gift of a 10.5 acre parcel on Branch Road that the property owner claims as “almost unlivable (there is no room for a home or septic system)”. The current owner would like to retain the right to use the property. Mr. LaFlamme advised that he is afraid this would open up the door for other property owners to basically use their land and not pay taxes. Ms. Edwards advised that while it is a nice offer, but it brings up a host of issues and as a government, they would like people to retain their land and pay taxes.
Ms. Edwards moved to respectfully decline the offer of the gift of 10.5 acres of land on Branch Road.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion which carried 2-0.
- Hydraulic analysis for Wineburg Bridge: Ms. Edwards advised she thought that at an earlier meeting they had planned to do a study for the Wineburg Bridge and it did not go out on the bid request. She understood that they didn’t need one for a temporary bridge but the FEMA rep Mr. Summers advised they should get one. She would like to know how they can address that.
A discussion of whether or not a study was needed at this time followed. Several visitors voiced their concerns regarding the expenditure of more money to benefit only one residence, especially as there were many other residences that were impacted and still waiting for repairs.
Mr. Tamburrino advised he felt that the Wineburg Bridge gave no benefit to the town and there should be a way to discontinue the town’s liability and responsibility for it.
It was noted that there is another bridge with that status, which is the one on Branch Road that goes to the Sumner farm. Both of these would need to be considered for discontinuance at the same time and would involve the same procedure as when a town wants to discontinue any public right of way.
Regarding the status of a hydraulic study the Board tabled the discussion until after additional information is received.
- Current bridge situation: Mr. LaFlamme advised that there is great concern about the Reed Hill, Hale Road, and Deer Park bridges, and the safety of allowing any type of access.
Ms. Edwards advised that she has safety and liability concerns also. She has been in contact with Alec Portalupe from VTRANS, who advised that he thought he could get someone to come and assess the bridges to determine if they could be repaired enough to allow pedestrian (foot traffic only) access to Hale Road and Deer Park Road in advance of any permanent bridge repair or replacement. She advised that they should try to address and implement some plan for this to happen. She further advised that if the Board had to make a decision tonight, she would have to vote to close those bridges to all access, due to the safety and liability issues for the town.
Various ideas on how to address the situation on Deer Park were noted, but the general feeling was that they should investigate the situation more and see what can been done to accommodate the people who need to use that bridge. Ms. Edwards noted that the Board would be meeting with the engineers on Friday and visiting the bridges. If they can get someone to come out and determine that it can be used, then they would decide the course of action at that time. It was decided to defer any motion or decision to close roads or bridges until Friday after the site visits.
Ms. Edwards will call Mr. Portalupe and request that he arrange for someone to come to review the status.
Hearing of Visitors
- Mr. Putnam inquired about the status of Hall Road. He advised that the snowmobile trail goes up that road and a property owner on the road told him to move the trail. He would like to know if she has the right to do that.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that while class 4 roads and trails are not town maintained, they are still public right or ways and are open to public use including snowmobiles. As long as they stay in the right of way she does not have the authority to prohibit you. He advised that if she has problems with that, she should come to the Selectboard.
Ms. Edwards asked if there were situations regarding snowmobiles on roads that the Selectboard should review and approve any changes to permissions. It was noted that this year the length of roadway being utilized is less than the approved section. Mr. Putnam advised this was an adjustment to eliminate a dangerous part of the route due to sight distances causing a so-called blind spot. She felt there should be specific permission parameters and that if there are changes then a new document should be approved. She will look up the original approval and will visit the area to see if a new approval is required.
- Mr. Rafus suggested that once the Green River Road is opened the Selectboard should schedule a site visit to show people what has been done and address what can be expected in the spring when final repairs are being done.
- Change purchasing policy, $2,999.99 to $25,000.00: deferred until full Board is present
- National Flood Insurance: Public Hearing will be at December 20, 2011 meeting.
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 9:18 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk