OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
January 4, 2011
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme and Edee Edwards. Board member Lewis Sumner was absent. Others in attendance were Anne DeWitt, Dawn Roske, Margo Avakian, Rick Gay, Maggie Stoltzman, Earl Holtz, Patricia Holtz, Patrick Wilkins, Greg Marguet, Mitchell Green, Marilyn Allen, Melvin Osborne, Orrin Isles, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Ms Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the December 21, 2010 meeting as written.
Mr. LaFlamme noted one typographical error [on page two] and with that correction seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0, and the minutes were approved.
Ms. Edwards inquired if the date of the second set of minutes for approval on the agenda was correct. Mr. LaFlamme stated that it should have been listed as January 3, 2011, not December 3, 2010.
Ms. Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the January 3, 2011 budget meeting as written.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0 and the minutes were approved.
1. F/Y 2012 proposed budget
Mr. LaFlamme gave short summary of some of the changes being considered in this budget, especially the degree to which pre-funding large purchases and projects will impact the budget. He distributed copies of the draft budget figures for those who wanted them and then he and Ms. Edwards explained the various portions of the proposal.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that they are proposing to pre-fund large equipment purchases rather than having to lease them as they are currently doing. Currently they pay lease payments out of the Equipment Fund but they now there will be a separate category for leases and pre-funding will be shown as a separate line item. Ms. Edwards noted that they have in the past pre-funded bridges, and hope to do so again. These areas will raise the amounts in the budget for the next year, but will in the long run save the town interest payments on leases and will build up the bridge account so that when grants for bridge work are obtained they will already have the matching funds required.
Comments from the visitors followed. Ms. Allen advised it has always been a mystery to her how general appropriations were made but they weren’t required as a limit to the budget. She would like a general explanation of how they were made and what these figures mean in comparison to what was spent. Mr. Marguet suggested that when it comes to purchasing a new piece of equipment the decision should be made be the voters by a yes/no vote as some other towns do. He suggested that if an equipment fund is approved then the purchases are out of the control of the voters. Ms. Allen suggested that the town needs to consider doing without if the money is not available. She noted that in 2007 the state changed the rule so that Selectboards have the right to go above the approved budget by borrowing, without voter approval.
Ms. Edwards advised that this has been her first time going through the budget process and it was a hard reality to realize that things have been underfunded for a number of years. This Board hopes that by planning ahead adopting this budget and putting funds into the appropriate reserves the town will be in a better situation in the future. Mr. Rice suggested that there is no guarantee that future Boards would continue contributing to these funds. Mr. LaFlamme agreed that this could happen and Ms. Edwards advised that they can only hope that with the information available the voters would insist that the funds be included in future years.
Regarding blacktopping this year, they decided to hold off due to the small amount of road that could be done given the increased costs. Mr. LaFlamme noted that generally the town tries to set money aside as the match for road and bridge grants when they get them. He noted that a new regulation is that the state will not award road grants to towns until they have replaced the road signs with the new larger print format. They also need to replace any 15” culverts with 18” culverts before they are eligible for road grants. This means they need to fund these items.
A discussion of wages paid and how they are listed, including overtime, rates of pay, etc. followed. Mr. LaFlamme advised that the final budget figures will depend on the outcome at Town Meeting, where a larger number of voters will have the opportunity to have input.
Mr. Holtz advised that they may want to rethink the fuel oil projections upward, as from the sources he checked these may not be realistic.
Mr. Marguet would like to see a line item budget and wants to know how the town can move to that process. He suggested that the budget as it is done now is like a salad with everything tossed together and suggested that a line item budget would make it more accurate with no room for extras. He pushed for consideration of the line item budget.
Ms. Edwards advised that they have heard his concerns but does not think that the Board is ready to consider a line item budget.
Mr. Green suggested it would be a good subject for research to find if it can even be considered for the town.
Several other questions were raised pertaining to specific lines, and were explained by the Board. Mr. LaFlamme noted that this is not a final proposed budget and they will be reviewing it further in consideration of the input given from visitors.
Hearing of Visitors
1. Anne DeWitt and Dawn Roske
Ms. DeWitt advised that the road crew is widening the road (Stowe Mtn. Rd.) and her major complaint is that a drainage pipe that runs by her house. She advised that when they put in the culvert they never asked her permission and it has impacted her property. She further explained that her neighbor Kathy McLean has a sump pump in her cellar and it used to drain where the old pipe was but now comes across through the culvert onto her property. She wants it removed.
Mr. Rice advised that he had spoken with Brad Rafus and he was aware of the situation and planned to address it. Mr. LaFlamme advised that they will schedule a site visit to see the area, and determine what can be done but may not be able to do anything until spring.
Ms. DeWitt advised that prior to Ms. McLean owning the property there had been a pipe that drained the water to the left side of the property, not across to her property as it now does.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that until the Board sees the property, they can’t consider solutions. They will call ahead to advise her, or her niece Ms. Roske, before they come. Mr. LaFlamme advised he will put it on the agenda for the next meeting.
2. Patrick Wilkins & Maggie Stoltzman inquired about the driveway permit they had submitted. Mr. LaFlamme advised it will be forwarded to Mr. Rafus for review and then when approved a copy will be mailed to them.
3. Orrin Isles was in attendance to pick up some paperwork he had previously requested and asked how the town purchased fuel. He suggested that if they did not have an annual contract they might benefit from entering into one.
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 9:21 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk