OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
June 7, 2011
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards. Others in attendance were Brad Rafus, Peggy Webber, Jeff Slade, Linda Coombs, Raymond Coombs, Charlene Martynowski, Andrew Elms, Margo Avakian, Earl Holtz, Orrin Isles, Mitchell Green, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Mr. LaFlamme again reminded the visitors of the rules of procedure for the meeting.
Approval of Minutes
Ms. Edwards noted two corrections, 1, that Fiber Connect should be one word and 2, that the word additional should be added after the $5000 regarding the added cost to the school on page 3. With those minor corrections she moved to accept the minutes of the May 17, 2011 meeting.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.
1) Grader Bids: Three were received;
Beauregard Equipment – Case AWD model # 885B DHP 2011 – $268,657 without trade; with unrepaired, but reassembled grader as trade, deduct $20,000; for non-AWD deduct $21,000.
Milton Cat – 140M AWD 2011-2012 – $288,745 after trade of grader; for non-AWD deduct $23,000.
Nortrax – John Deere 722GP 2011 – $295,000 with repaired grader in trade deduct $70,000 for net cost of $225,000. Discount for non AWD is $32,000. A 722GP AWD demo model is $277,000 discount for repaired grader trade would make it $207,000. A 672GP 2011 AWD – $266,500 discount for repaired grader trade of $70,000 would make it $196,500.
Mr. LaFlamme advised they will need some figures on cost to reassemble the grader without repair, the cost to repair it, and what the total costs will be if they should go with a different supplier.
Mr. Rafus advised that the John Deere 672GP is under specs. He further advised that the Case (Beauregard) is not available they are waiting for them to be delivered but have no definite information.
Ms. Edwards advised she would need some additional information before she could put the proposals into the cost comparison program.
Jeff Slate from Milton Cat advised they could work up the figures for them regarding costs already incurred, and the additional costs to either just reassemble it or to repair it.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that they were bringing the information to the voters at a special town meeting and they would not be able to have a decision before that time.
Mr. Sumner advised they should have Mr. Rafus and Keith Stone go over the bids to be sure that the models offered meet the specifications that were in the request for bids.
2) Mowing Bids: one was received:
Andrew Rockwell, who had won the bid last year, submitted his bid for this year at $55 per hour noting that fuel prices have triggered the increase.
Mr. LaFlamme moved to accept the bid from Andrew Rockwell up to a maximum amount of $5,000.
Mr. Sumner seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
3) Black Top Bids – Three were received:
Warner Bros., LLC Reclaim $ 15,766.50
Black top $139,830.00 Total Bid Price $155,596.50
Springfield Paving Reclaim $ 13,938.75
Black top $147,114.50 Total Bid Price $161,053.25
Lane Construction Reclaim $ 9,189.25
$127,956.25 Total Bid Price $137,145.50
Mr. Sumner moved to accept the bid from Lane Construction for a total amount of $137,145.50.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
Andrew Elms of Lane Construction thanked the Board and took the signed acceptance with him.
4) Record Keeping report
Mr. LaFlamme advised that Mrs. Martynowski had requested that this be put on the agenda, so he invited her to begin.
Mrs. Martynowski advised she had mentioned at the last meeting that the report she had been given was not helpful as the figures were not broken down, and it appeared that all of the line items were over budget. She now advised that in going over the figures that were there, she found errors in the amounts that were budgeted, such as Listers salary. She advised they would like to be able to get new mapping done and she would like to know when they might be able to have the funds available. She is working on getting bids for the project so they will know how much is needed.
A short discussion between Mrs. Martynowski, Ms. Edwards, and Mr. LaFlamme followed. Mrs. Martynowski asked if Ms. Edwards was working with the bookkeeper. Ms. Edwards advised that she was not, but when there was new information to be included she comes in to support her and help if needed. She again stated that bookkeeping is not her strong suit but that she feels she should support her if possible.
Mrs. Martynowski advised she was bothered by the idea that this was a conflict of interest for John LaFlamme to do this report, but now you’re doing this.
Mrs. Coombs inquired why the bookkeeper couldn’t work with Mrs. Dow to get the right information.
Mrs. Dow advised that the bookkeeper is supposed to be reviewing and checking her figures for correctness. If she just used the treasurer’s figures it eliminates a step in the auditing to insure correctness of figures.
Ms. Edwards proposed scheduling a meeting with the bookkeeper to straighten out the job and suggested that Mr. LaFlamme be there to voice his concerns and help explain the position and what is expected.
Mr. LaFlamme advised he has tried to stay out of it as he feels it would be seen as retaliation because he wanted the job and was not considered for it.
More comments and discussion regarding the problems related to the reports and the general expectations of the bookkeeping position followed.
Ms. Edwards again advised she felt it wasn’t fair to expect her to handle all of the issues and problems regarding the bookkeeper and would like them to have a plan of action that involves the entire Board.
Mrs. Dow recommended that they “scrub it” for this fiscal year, which ends June 30th. She advised that when June closes she will give the Bookkeeper a detailed report of accounts to reconcile her year-end reports.
A special Selectboard meeting will be scheduled with Mrs. Dow, the bookkeeper, Ms. Edwards, and Mr. Sumner.
5) Marilyn Allen road conditions:
Ms. Edwards advised she had received a complaint from Ms. Allen regarding the road conditions near her home. Since that time she has spoken with her and at this time she is satisfied with the road, but Ms. Edwards advised it might be helpful to let people know the tentative schedule for road work, even though it all depends upon weather and other factors.
6) Cemetery Commissioner:
Mr. Sumner moved to appoint Jeffrey DeForest to fill the position of Cemetery Commissioner until the next election.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
7) Windham Regional Commissioner:
The Board received a request from Nick Bartenhagen to be considered for the vacancy on the WRC.
Mr. LaFlamme moved to approve the appointment of Nick Bartenhagen to complete the term vacated by Paul Taylor.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
8) Proposal for financial changes for the coming year:
Ms. Edwards advised she had attended the Selectboard’s Institute again this year and they had numerous breakout sessions. One that she attended was entitled “Financial Policies and Internal Controls” and one suggestion that was made by the presenter was to use a “Modified Accrual method” of accounting, to get away from the cash accounting method which she advised is how it has been done here in Halifax for a long time which he noted is a standard accounting method. She further advised that this was mentioned in the Auditors report at Town Meeting. She inquired how difficult it would be to adopt it and he advised it would be done at the end of the year and that someone who knows the process could do it in about half a day. She advised she brought it up for discussion and possible consideration for the coming year.
Mr. LaFlamme asked Mrs. Dow to weigh in on this, as she is more knowledgeable than he is.
Mrs. Dow advised that the town already uses the Modified Accrual System for accounting, because it is part of the generally accepted principles for governmental accounting. She advised that basically this system recognizes expenses when they occur and being able to show them in the correct fiscal year, but also recognizing revenues when they are received. She gave the example of Vermont Emergency Management money. We have gone through several drills and have paid the expenses for them but they will not actually get the money for them from VEM until next fiscal year. When it is received she will not back date it, but will recognize it when it is received.
Mr. LaFlamme noted that basically she is using this system that Ms. Edwards suggested.
Mrs. Dow advised that she has been using it right from the start.
Ms. Edwards acknowledged that it was her not understanding the auditors report and not recognizing that it was the same thing. Therefore there is no need to change things.
9) Chart of Accounts, separate overtime from regular time:
Mr. LaFlamme advised that Mrs. Dow had been able to separate them in quick books by giving it a separate account number but it didn’t relate back to the report so she had to undo the change. You can easily, manually add an item to a report. So this can be done.
10) Highway Order for Bill Payment, practice of signing:
Ms. Edwards advised that on page 153 of the Selectboard Handbook references 24 VSA 1623, which allows the Board to delegate one member to authorize payment. She is bringing it up because she has a new job and it is difficult for her to come to the office on Mondays to sign. She further advised she feels that she doesn’t have a good understanding of the highway expenditures and process. She therefore would like to have the Board delegate one member to sign the payroll portion, but have all other expenditures be reviewed in an open regular Selectboard meeting when they can discuss them.
Mrs. Dow advised she would be against that because she tries to take advantage of any discounts that are offered for payments “within 10 days, or even 30 days” or other offers made by vendors. By the time the bills are received, reviewed and approved by the Road Commissioner, submitted to her for payment, sometimes more than a week has already passed. She further advised that if these bills are not kept up with, the vendors are constantly calling, when they send new invoices they include past charges which may be in process, but by showing them on more than the original invoice it could create more chances for errors such as double payments. By paying the bills weekly there is much less chance for error.
Mr. Rafus advised that the town tried this about 5 or 6 years ago and it created problems with them being denied credit due to late payments of bills. Sometimes they were denied delivery of equipment and supplies. It is much better to pay the bills as soon as they can be processed rather than holding them for Board meetings.
Mr. Green advised that it seems this process would be going backwards.
Mrs. Dow suggested that they could make a copy of the order and invoices for her to review if that would help.
Ms. Edwards advised that she feels that she is not doing her job as a Selectperson and she wants to be involved but not in a way that would be an obstruction to her regular job.
Mrs. Dow advised that the Road Commissioner is authorized to make purchases so there should be no need to review his decisions.
Ms. Edwards was emphatic in her belief that the process should be changed so that any expenses other than payroll should be reviewed at a regular or special Selectboard meeting.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that authorizing one person to sign the payroll sounds like creating a town manager and he doesn’t want to go down that slippery slope.
Mrs. Martynowski and Mrs. Coombs both advised that to change the system of approval as Ms. Edwards suggests would not be beneficial to the town or the taxpayers if the delays resulted in loss of credit and/or discounts.
Ms. Edwards advised that the way they are doing it now is not proper and they should consider change.
Mr. Sumner moved to keep the approval process as it currently is, requiring a minimum of two Board members to sign all payment orders.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-1 with Ms. Edwards opposed.
Hearing of Visitors
Ø Mr. Rafus advised that last week the members of the road crew were recertified in Flagging. The safety inspector advised they are lacking in some of the proper equipment. Some of the items are expensive, but he has an application for a grant that is available and could pay 50% of the costs. Some of the items they need are correct vests (there is a $5,000 fine if they are cited for not having them); hats, traffic control signs; 2 handheld radios, class 3 barricades. Mr. Rafus advised the inspector had also touched on the items still needing corrective action at the town garage. These had been listed in a letter after that inspection and Mr. Rafus advised that the work has still not been done.
Ø Returned Check Policy: Mrs. Dow advised she received an answer from the Town Attorney but she did not bring the policy tonight. Regarding the need for an ordinance, he advised that an ordinance makes it more enforceable but that a policy is sufficient.
Ø Warrant for unlicensed dogs:
Mr. LaFlamme moved to approve signing the warrant for unlicensed dogs and to give it to the Constable for enforcement.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
The application for a driveway permit for the Michael Drummey subdivision was given to Mr. Rafus for review.
Joe Tamburrino submitted a request for two used office chairs. Due to the tight budget it was deferred to the next fiscal year for reconsideration.
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 9:40 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk