OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
November 19, 2013
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm. Board members in attendance were Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards. Others in attendance were Jessica Bruno, Len Derby, Ray Combs, Margo Avakian, and Tim Putnam.
Approval of Minutes
Edwards made a motion to accept the November 5, 2013 Regular meeting minutes as amended. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.
Edwards made a motion to accept the November 6, 2013 Special meeting minutes as written. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.
Edwards made a motion to accept the November 9, 2013 Special meeting minutes as amended. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.
Edwards made a motion to accept the November 12.2013 Regular meeting minutes as amended. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1 (Sumner abstained).
Town Website Update & Front Porch Forum
Bruno reported that the new town website is live. Bruno discussed issues she had between the owner of the domain and the Snelling Center web developer. The Selectboard expressed they were displeased with the amount of time the website was down during the transition which Bruno has already communicated with the Snelling Center contact. Bruno also discussed some issues relative to the transition to WordPress. She presented Bob Teree’s offer to re-design, maintain and host the site. The Selectboard agreed that their main objective was to take advantage of the grant funding for the website and transfer to the new WordPress platform. Website expenses are not in the current budget, but should they get to the point of needed to request online transactions, they may reconsider. They group also discussed admin users of the new site and .gov domains.
Edwards explained the front porch forum is a way for neighbors to communicate with neighbors. Halifax has been grouped with Whitingham and the two towns combined need 100 people to express interest before the service will be activated. Currently 24 people are signed up. http://frontporchforum.com/
Old County North Bridge
Edwards reported that Holden was set to present plans tonight but they had a family emergency. They anticipated receiving plan documents electronically, but they have not received anything yet. Holden has requested permission to send the plans to AOT, but the Selectboard agreed that they should see them first. Edwards expressed that Holden Engineering flagged parts of the site for permitting purposes without contacting the property owners. The property owners have a great deal of concerns, questions, and issues that they would like addressed. The Selectboard discussed ways to better communicate with citizens including having meetings with landowners, electronic channels, and to task someone to head communications including formulating letters explaining the process and contacts.
Town Clerk Health Benefits
Edwards explained that the Selectboard has walked through the personnel policy updates and had made a motion to offer health benefits for full-time employees. They have budgeted as though they will offer health benefits for the town clerk as voted by the taxpayers.
Edwards made a motion to offer the town clerk health benefits prorated at 3/5 of the full cost of the Blue Cross Blue Shield premium.
The Selectboard discussed the motion. Sumner noted that although the documented hours are 24 per week, she often comes in other times to complete the work. Holtz added that as a 30 hour workweek is the definition of full-time for health insurance purposes, he believes they should offer 75% (approx 24/30).
The motion was amended to offer the town clerk and her family health benefits prorated at 75% of the full cost of the Blue Cross Blue Shield platinum plan. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.
Winter Road Policy
Rafus provided a draft winter road policy for Selectboard review. The Selectboard thought it might be good to discuss it with VLCT. It was noted that more detail might be needed in the use of sand/salt. They would also need to talk to emergency personnel if no maintenance will be done between 10pm and 4am. They also had a brief discussion about the possibility of needing to close roads at times for inclement weather and adding this to the policy. They also need to look at enforcement of ordinances (in regard to plowing across roads onto state highways).
The Selectboard discussed setting the following priorities for the co-EMD’s:
-Complete the purchase and setup of computers
-Reverse 911 system- training, testing, and implementation
-VT Alert System
-Resolve Internet issues- make sure it’s ready to go
-Training for All Hazards Plan- non-radiological events
-Prepare something for town meeting day- presentation
-Hand radio training for Selectboard
Hearing of Visitors
Derby inquired whether the guardrails on Green River Rd will be repaired/replaced before Winter? The Selectboard replied that they have the materials but they are waiting to see if the State can help them with equipment for installation.
Putnam reported that cars are going really fast on Hatch School Road. The Selectboard will report this to the state police.
Combs asked whether there was any new news regarding Internet service. Holtz replied that there was no new news. A tower is planned for Marlboro (by VTel) which would service part of Halifax. Fairpoint is working on a pad on Hubbard Hill Rd and they have indicated that service will be available by the end of the year for residents living near that area. Edwards added that they received a letter from SoverNet inquiring whether they are still interested in service. Edwards will contact them to see if they may have a more reasonable offer in terms of cost.
VT Health Connect Update
Three of five employees are signed up through VT Health Connect. Two others have tickets in to get their family in line with the system. They need to notify Blue Cross Blue Shield by November 25, 2013 that they do not want an extension. They want to get onto the new system instead which will provide a lower premium cost.
Sumner reported that the new truck is here. He also reported that the compressor issue is fixed.
Holtz reported that he has received P&L’s for the last three years and has started working on the budget. He has received a request from a citizen to show what the town debt is. Edwards advised he should check with the town auditors.
Edwards reported that the Planning Commission/Zoning Board does not have a chairman yet. She has asked them for projected costs of the zoning updates.
The Selectboard received a petition to ask Fairpoint to build a “cabinet” in the village of West Halifax for better high speed Internet service in the village area. Holtz will draft a letter and forward the petition to Fairpoint.
Edwards and Sumner discussed EMD expenses drawn from RERP.
Selectmen’s Order to Town Treasurer for bill payment
The order for payment of bills was completed and signed.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:12pm