OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
March 9, 2010
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7: 30PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards. Others in attendance were Margo Avakian, Greg Marguet, Marilyn Allen, Jesse Ferland, Mary Brewster, Merle Eggert, Maggie Bartenhagen, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Mr. LaFlamme welcomed Edee Edwards to the Board and offered his congratulations on her election.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that the purpose of this meeting was to organize the Board and elect officers. Regular business would be deferred to the next regular meeting which is scheduled for Tuesday, March 16, 2010.
Mr. Sumner moved to appoint John LaFlamme as Chair of the Selectboard.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion, which carried 2-0-1, with Mr. LaFlamme abstaining.
Mr. LaFlamme moved to appoint Lewis Sumner as Vice Chair of the Selectboard.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion, which carried 2-0-1, with Mr. Sumner abstaining.
Mr. Sumner moved to appoint Phyllis Evanuk as secretary to the Selectboard.
Mr. LaFlamme seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
Mr. LaFlamme moved to continue holding the Selectboard Meetings on the first and third Tuesdays of the month.
Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
Hearing of Visitors
Mary Brewster turned in the key that had been issued to her as an auditor. That key was then issued to Ms. Edwards.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that although this was basically an organizational meeting, because there were a number of visitors the Board would be happy to hear any comments they would like to put forth. He advised that no decisions would be made but as always the Board appreciated input from citizens.
Mrs. Bartenhagen advised that she would like to make a few comments for the Board to consider. These are things that were brought out at Town Meeting and she felt they should be discussed and considered before too much time elapsed.
She urged the Board to consider finding a highly qualified bookkeeper to take care of the Selectboard’s books and budget. She felt that this would also help in clarifying the information in the Town Report so that the general public would be able to understand it better.
Ms. Edwards suggested that better descriptions of the different categories would be helpful. A short discussion among the Board members followed.
Ms. Allen suggested that the Board should consider returning to the calendar year as opposed to the fiscal year. She suggested that prior to the change people understood the information in the Town Report, but with the change the information is not “current” and it is not as readily understood.
A discussion of the whole budget and report processes followed.
Ms. Brewster suggested that if there were quarterly public meetings of the Selectboard, the Treasurer, and the Auditors to address any problems and to make reports available for each quarter. The result would be that information would be more up to date.
Mr. Eggert advised that the town went to the fiscal year to alleviate some problems with borrowing but instead it has created more problems and more financing. He also insisted that there was no reason why the Board should not have the books in order within 30 days after the close of a quarter.
Mrs. Bartenhagen advised that what they were mainly in attendance for was to suggest to the Board that implementation of the suggestions that came out of Town Meeting should be actively considered and worked on this year to make the next Town Report more easily understood by the voters. This would help the townspeople to have a better understanding of where their taxes are being spent and to appreciate the services their money is providing.
Mr. Marguet suggested that for the future the Town should prepare for the next disaster, which he said will inevitably happen, by setting up a separate bookkeeping system so that the monies spent and the reimbursements received would be separately shown not included with the regular budget. He advised that he feels that the basic running of the town should be simple, and to keep any FEMA and other monies for disasters separate, they might employ a person just to track those expenses and reimbursements.
Ms. Allen and Mrs. Bartenhagen both advised that the Selectboard has a difficult job and they felt that if the bookkeeping methods were streamlined and handled by a highly qualified person it would make their job easier and would be clearer to the public.
General discussion followed on the cost of new highway equipment, cost of the Town Report, and the improvements in the delinquent tax list. It was noted that times are difficult and the town should try to work with those taxpayers who are in difficult circumstances, rather than penalize them for being unable to pay.
Mr. LaFlamme thanked the visitors for their input and suggestions.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk