OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
February 15, 2011
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:29 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards. Others in attendance were Margo Avakian, Jesse Ferland, Andy Rice, Earl B. Holtz, Mitchell Green, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. LaFlamme moved to accept the minutes of the February 1, 2011, meeting with the correction to the Health Savings Account shown as HAS and should be HSA.
Ms. Edwards noted that under the visitors section Mr. Rice’s comments were not included, the sentence stopped after Mr. Rice. She also noted a typographical error and also that Mr. Noble has 2 g’s at the end of his name. With those added corrections she moved to accept the minutes.
Mr. Sumner seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved with the noted corrections.
Hearing of Visitors
- Mr. Holtz advised that he had seen a posting of a damaged garage with pictures on the public forum section of the town website. He advised he expected to see it on the agenda but apparently it was not reported.
Ms. Edwards noted that with the Vermont Supreme Court decision regarding liability of the town, if it happened during the course of normal road clearing operations, the town is not liable.
Mr. LaFlamme noted that they have the liability of clearing the roads but not for inadvertent damages.
- Mr. Ferland advised that having glanced through the annual town report he did not see a per person breakdown of FEMA funds allocations. He noted that at more than one meeting Mr. LaFlamme had advised the information would be in the town report. He still would like that information.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that as far as what he was allocated he will get the exact numbers from his own records. He thought that the information would be in the town report.
Mr. Sumner advised that the payments fell under two different fiscal years.
Mr. Ferland advised that because these are federal funds he is interested in how they were used.
Mr. Sumner advised that they have the paperwork and he retrieved the folder relating to the FEMA ice storm expenditures and payments and gave it to Mr. Ferland to review which he proceeded to do. Mr. Sumner further advised that the town has to pay for the expenses and then submit the paid invoices for reimbursement of that portion that FEMA approved. FEMA only pays 75%, the state paid 15% and the town was responsible for the remaining 10%.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that at the time the town was under a tight time frame for completion of the application for FEMA funds and because of that he offered to do the initial paperwork and to tag the trees that were to be included in the application.
Mr. Holtz advised that that job was the responsibility of the Tree Warden and suggested that he didn’t want to do it. He advised that the Tree Warden’s responsibility is to look at the trees, determine if they’re diseased, or if they should be taken down.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that in this instance FEMA had very specific criteria for inclusion in the application. More than 50% of the crown was damaged, if the heartwood was exposed, or if the tree was leaning more than a 15% angle. These were the three criteria that determined whether or not a tree was included.
Mr. Ferland asked if Mr. LaFlamme had sought assistance from a qualified tree person and whether he considered that by him doing this it was a conflict of interest.
Mr. LaFlamme advised he did not ask for assistance and he did not consider it a conflict as members of the Selectboard have done work for the town in the past.
- Mr. Rice advised that there is a difference between the pound keeper versus the Animal Control Officer. He noted that the ACO is a part of the Constable’s position however as they do not have a pound, the pound keeper position seems to be superfluous. Also there is no budget for ACO.
- Mr. Holtz advised he had a conversation with Rise Albert regarding the snowmobile traffic on Collins Road. He had suggested there might be a way to redirect them to the back of his property, but in speaking with neighboring property owners he found that they did not want to allow access to their land. Therefore the route along the road appears at this time to be the only solution.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that the current agreement was a result of the landowners denying access.
Mr. Holtz advised that Ms. Albert would like to see speed and noise controls.
Mr. Rice advised that it has been a little better since the signs were posted by the snowmobile club.
Mr. Holtz asked about a gravel testing report. Mr. LaFlamme advised they have not received the report yet, but Mr. Rafus did send a sample for testing.
Mr. Holtz advised he could not find a definition of a work session and therefore he believes that any there is a quorum of the members it is an open meeting. This is according to VLCT.
Mr. Green advised that the chair sets the rules and does not have to allow visitors to speak.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that the meeting in question was for the Board to work up the figures for the budget. It was then brought to a regular meeting and the public was allowed to comment and offer suggestions at that time.
Mr. Holtz advised that the way he reads the law there is no such thing as a work session. He advised it should be investigated as we don’t want to get into trouble. He further advised that at that budget session in places where he would have interjected thoughts he was reticent to do so because of the rules that had been stated.
Ms. Avakian stated that the Secretary of State’s handbook clearly states that the visitors must be heard subject to the rules set by the chair.
Mr. Holtz advised that the reason he is bringing it up here is that he envisions having more of that type of meeting throughout the year and we need to be able to allow discussion and to have procedures in place.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that he is hesitant to start debating every item while they are trying to develop the budget.
Mr. Holtz advised he hears what he is telling him but he should read the law, which is very clear. It doesn’t need to be just the budget, but any topic when there is a quorum and the Board is discussing a topic. When the budget came before the open meeting it was already set so there was no opportunity for discussion.
Culvert issue at the Ann DeWitt property – deferred to a future meeting as nothing can be done at this time.
1. Informational meeting scheduled for February 22, 2011 at 7:00 PM to be held jointly with the School Board for the purpose of discussing the Articles for Town Meeting and to meet the candidates.
Ms. Edwards advised that she had put together a power point presentation on the budget and asked if there was a possibility of having a projector available to present it if the questions arise. She showed the Board and advised if they wanted to use it they could, but if not that was okay too.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that he wanted to address questions rather than have a complicated presentation of the budget. If there are questions he would answer them as asked.
Mr. Sumner advised he felt the power point presentation would be fine and it could be set up and left for people to view as they wanted.
Ms. Edwards advised she would leave it and Mr. LaFlamme could use it or not as he chose.
2. Ms. Edwards advised she had clarified the information regarding ambulance coverage in the VLCT Insurance, and advised that this is just a classification and the town is not being charged for one. This topic will be put on the March 15, 2011 Selectboard meeting for further discussion and edification.
Mr. Sumner advised that WSWMD would like to have a recycling information table at Town Meeting. Brochures regarding the new recycling programs for electronics etc. should also be there.
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 8:45 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk