OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
November 3, 2009
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM. Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Mitchell Green, and Lewis Sumner. Others in attendance were Margo Avakian, Tina and Paul Blais, Bill Moore, Andy Rice, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Sumner advised that on page 3 of the minutes where it states that the decking is proposed to be poured on Friday should be changed to read the decking is proposed to be black-topped on Friday. With that correction he moved to accept the minutes of the October 20, 2009 meeting with the correction.
Mr. Green seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.
Ø Christina Moore; Halifax E.M.S.
Tina Blais was in attendance as Mrs. Moore had a prior commitment. Mrs. Blais advised that she was aware of the issue she has been asked to address, but she was not sure why it is an issue.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that to make a long story short, there was a bill in the Selectboard mail for supplies for EMS. He had called Mrs. Moore to ask why and she told him it was to be paid by the Selectboard from the funds that had been appropriated by the Town for EMS. He advised he was confused.
Mrs. Blais advised that when these funds were first approved, she had discussed the procedure to use with Town Treasurer Patty Dow. Mrs. Dow had advised there were two different options for the funds. With either choice they would need to wait for several months until tax money was coming in to the town.
The choices were either to take the whole amount, or to make it easier for auditing they could submit bills to her through the Selectboard and she could just create another account and pay them.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that Mrs. Dow had explained to him that there was confusion as to whether or not the auditors were going to audit the EMS books.
Mrs. Blais advised it was not really a confusion, they just reasoned that if the town money was kept with the town treasurer, then the EMS books would not need to be audited.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that either way, the auditors are only going to confirm that the allotted funds went to the EMS.
Mrs. Blais advised that was not what she had been told. That was the reason they decided to proceed this way. She further advised that in speaking with Mrs. Dow today, she was informed that the treasurer had no issues with handling it either way. Mrs. Blais advised that seeing as they have expended a portion of the money through submitting bills to the town, she felt it would be best if they complete this fiscal year in that manner. They can revisit the issue of payment procedures for the next fiscal year, if EMS is approved for town funds.
Mr. Green advised that because it was a voted article, in his opinion the amount should have been given in a lump sum just as they do with other voted articles for charities. He noted that many of the approved payments are deferred for several months until tax money comes in, so they should have done the same with EMS. He further advised that he feels that the auditors would have more of a problem with the bills coming to the town than with a lump sum payment to EMS.
Paul Blais advised that the precedent has already been set that the town pays individual bills for the Fire Department. The direction that EMS had been given from the town treasurer was to submit bills. The issue of how the auditors are acting on their own behalf is one that EMS does not want to get involved with. They were told to submit their bills. They were told to wait until after September 1st to submit them and that is what they did. He further advised that any confusion must be on the part of the Selectboard as there was no confusion between EMS and the treasurer. Mrs. Dow was fine with how she was going to handle it and there was no confusion on her part as far as keeping the dollars straight.
Mr. LaFlamme acknowledged that Mrs. Dow has no problem with this. His confusion comes from submitting a bill for payment when the Board does not always know how much money is available in the account they are charging it to.
Mr. Blais advised that the information should be available from the treasurer who tracks the expenditures and this should not be an issue.
Mr. LaFlamme agreed that the figures are available through Mrs. Dow, but advised that it makes their accounting easier if they pay voted amounts out in one lump sum.
Mr. Green advised that is the reason that he thinks that all voted article amounts such as this one should be paid in a lump sum as they are not a part of the Selectboard’s operating budget.
A discussion of the perceived or actual year end accounting problems followed. It was noted that the grant was supposed to be made out to the town and because it was made out to EMS, this seems to have created the problems. If it had been made out to the town as the grantor, they would have had an account for it and this confusion would have been averted.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that the bill that was submitted is for over $1,000 and he had no way of knowing if there was enough money in that account to cover the request. He called Mrs. Dow to get that information. His concern is in not knowing when the limit has been reached.
Mrs. Blais advised that she, as treasurer for EMS, and Mrs. Dow work together on this. They each keep a running total of the funds so that they know at any given time how much money is available. She then asked Mr. LaFlamme if he thought she would submit a bill when there was not enough money to cover it.
Mr. Sumner advised that they regularly pay the bills for the Fire Department for the amount that the town has designated for them. He feels that they should do the same thing for EMS.
Mr. Rice suggested that the Board develop a standard procedure for all voted article funds payments.
After more discussion, it was agreed that for the remainder of this fiscal year they would continue as they are, and revisit the procedure for the next fiscal year.
Hearing of Visitors
Ø Mr. Rice advised that the radios are all installed in his truck.
Ø Mr. Rice gave an update of his activities. He advised that both he and Mr. Richardson were in the Village on Halloween night, and they would like to know if in the future, for special situations, they could use the Town frequency for communications between them. There would not be many occasions when they would need to use it, but it would be nice to know that it was available when necessary. He advised that there would be no costs involved, they have the radios and Mrs. Moore can program them.
The Board will consider it and advise him at a later date.
Ø Mr. Rice advised that the Guilford Selectmen have inquired about reciprocal constable service. He advised he has no problem with it but the Selectboard are the ones to make that decision.
Ø Update Employee Handbook
A short discussion of the content followed. Mr. Rice asked if these rules applied to all town employees. Mr. Sumner advised that it only covers those employees hired by the Selectboard who work 20+ hours per week on a regular basis, which at this time is basically the Road Crew.
Mr. Green moved to approve the Town of Halifax Personnel Policies and Rules Handbook as written.
Mr. Sumner seconded the motion which carried 3-0.
Mr. LaFlamme advised that the Reed Hill Bridge is finished and he stated that they did a good job.
Ms. Avakian asked if there was a reason for the bridge being wider than the existing road.
Mr. Sumner advised that he thinks it is because the state no longer allows bridges to be built as narrow as the one that was there. As a result they had to make it wider to comply with state regulations.
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 8:30 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk