Town of Halifax, Vermont
October 21, 2014


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:31 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Earl Holtz, and Edee Edwards were present, as were Brad Rafus, Ray Combs, Margo Avakian, Stephan Chait, Blaise McGarvey, and Robbin Gabriel.

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda

No alterations were made to the agenda.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

Earl Holtz made a motion to accept the 10/7/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Lewis Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Edee Edwards made a motion to accept the 10/8/14 special meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Sumner made a motion to accept the 10/14/14 regular meeting minutes as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.

New Business

Town Employee Health Insurance
Sumner told the meeting the monthly cost of employee health insurance, as quoted by Blue Cross/Blue Shield in their yearly application packet, is $6,585.11, with no changes in coverage. For clarification, Edwards said that there are no changes in benefits, but there have been cost increases. The new monthly cost falls just under the amount budgeted by the town for the upcoming fiscal year; changes in family makeup among covered employees have created a slight cost decrease which partially offsets the higher rates. Because the insurance coverage is renewable on a calendar year basis there is always the possibility the town may see rate changes before the next town budget is in place; in the future it may be necessary to consider asking employees to share premium costs. Edwards made a motion that the town provide 100% coverage for town employees under the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Platinum plan at $6,585.11 per month for the upcoming calendar year, with employees having complete choice of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield package they prefer. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. The application will go to the Town Clerk for processing.

Tropical Storm Irene Payment from Vermont State
The town has received final reimbursement payment from the state, said Sumner– $247,000 and change. Edwards had figures from Christina Moore on overall Irene repair costs: Actual expenses were $4,423,532.46; actual revenue back, $4,358,68.26 (a reimbursement rate of 98.52%); town’s portion of expense, $65,434.20. The town’s portion, Edwards explained, is somewhat higher than projected because audit and interest costs were not included in the original estimate. It’s been a long, hard process, she said. Sumner added that Halifax is ahead of some towns—we are among the first to complete rebuilding. The Board agreed to send letters of thanks to Christina Moore, Joe Tamburrino, and Patty Dow for their large contribution to the restoration effort. Edwards said she would also like to give a small cash bonus to highway department crew members, who put cleanup efforts ahead of their personal lives for months in the hurricane’s aftermath. Sumner made a motion to give the five highway crew members a $250.00 bonus for doing such a good job after Hurricane Irene. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Green River Covered Bridge in Guilford Update
The bridge has been open to traffic again for about a week and a half, Sumner said, with the four-ton weight limit still in effect. Per the their web site, Guilford will be holding a special Selectboard meeting on Wednesday, October 29th, at 8:30 a.m. at the Guilford Town Hall, to discuss Green River bridge alternatives. Edwards suggested some Halifax residents, particularly those who use the bridge on a regular basis, might want to attend. Sumner said Guilford had hired a professional consultant to examine options; the consultant will be reporting results during this meeting. Holtz volunteered to communicate with several residents living near the Guilford/Halifax town line. Stephan Chait asked whether Guilford is currently addressing ways to handle the four-ton weight limit; Holtz responded yes. Sumner also mentioned that Guilford’s Hale Road bridge is completed and is a nice-looking bridge. Rafus said the new bridge is now pitched with the road and is much easier to negotiate.

Old County Road North #37 Bridge Project—Slide Presentation
Holtz started with 250 photos of the Old County North bridge construction; selecting a reasonable number to include in a slide show wasn’t easy. His final choices, displayed by the projection unit and accompanied by his commentary, told a clear story of the project from start to finish, and elicited numerous questions from an interested audience. Chait had so many questions and comments that Edwards suggested he might be named Clerk of the Works on the next town project. An especially entertaining highlight was the photo of a Hudson automobile medallion. The car was apparently buried in the south bank during the original bridge construction but the only recognizable artifact is the emblem. Everyone agreed the new bridge was attractive and well-constructed. Holtz gave Latulippe Construction high marks for their work.

Old Business

Sign Revised Purchasing Policy
Board members signed the revised purchasing policy, previously approved at their October 7th meeting. The document can be viewed online or in the Town Office binder.

Hearing of Visitors

Chait requested information about the Green River Corridor Assessment, which will be discussed at a special Planning Commission/Selectboard meeting on October 23rd, at 7:00 p.m. in the Town Office. He was given copies of Windham Regional Commission’s flyer and letter to landowners, and Edwards said attendees of the October 23rd meeting would have an opportunity to hear the assessment report and recommendations for strengthening potential weak spots in advance of another flood.

Ray Combs asked for updates on the Halifax Center cell tower and the Denison quarry project. The cell tower has been approved, with no date set for construction startup. Regarding the quarry application, the town is waiting to hear from the Environmental Commission about hearing dates and final decisions on who has party status.

Rafus said the salt shed addition is well under way. The contractor has added bracing to the end wall and advises closing it in to strengthen the building. He has given Rafus a written $2,600.00 quote to stud the wall, put up plywood, and add metal siding. After reviewing budget figures and determining this additional amount would not exceed the monies originally allocated, the Board agreed this was a wise idea. Sumner made a motion to have the end wall sheathed for $2,600.00. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Rafus has found a supplier in Brattleboro for the highway crew’s uniform needs. Northeast Mountain Footwear, in the mall at Exit 1, carries a full line of Carhart products, a wide variety of footwear, and is willing to set up an account for the town, track employee expenditures, and thus minimize billing.

Earlier in the year the Selectboard discussed having quarterly meetings with the highway department. Edwards reminded fellow Board members of this and suggested scheduling such a meeting after Sumner has returned from his upcoming trip.

After attempting to converse with Sandri’s supervisor for a week regarding diesel fuel contamination, Rafus finally made contact recently. The Sandri representative is expected to come up next week to view samples and discuss the situation. Holtz asked how the highway department was using the fuel in its present condition. Rafus told him all the trucks and the grader have water separators and sensors; this is how they originally discovered the problem. Also, when Rafus called the supplier to have the boiler cleaned, he was told that could only happen when the town’s account with the company was at zero balance, else the transaction would need to be on a cash basis. As this is never the case—the highway department receives weekly deliveries, and only pays when invoiced—he found it necessary to speak to another Sandri supervisor to get this resolved. Combs expressed surprise that the supplier had not immediately sent someone to review the contaminated fuel, and Edwards thought that given the circumstances a Selectboard member should be present when Rafus met with the Sandri supervisor. It doesn’t sound like you’re getting treated right, said Holtz.

Other Business


Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer for Bill Payment

The Selectboard Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.


Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:38 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary