OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES
December 6, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 8:30 a.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Edee Edwards and Earl Holtz were present, as were Brad Rafus, Joe Tamburrino, Janet Taylor, Stephan Chait, and Robbin Gabriel. Patty Dow joined the meeting for several short periods during the session.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Highway Department Holiday Pay Discussion
Edee Edwards described her confusion regarding the manner in which holiday pay was handled during Thanksgiving week. The order for payment showed ten hours of straight pay for the holiday, and double hourly rate for hours worked. Edwards interpreted the town policy to mean double time for hours worked, and straight time for any remaining hours not worked on the holiday. Brad Rafus explained that highway employees were paid for ten hours of holiday, because they are still on a four-day, ten hour work schedule, and then are paid double time if hours are worked on that day. Earl Holtz viewed this as paying triple time, which he said was not his intent when he approved the policy. He also said the town policy had not addressed the eventuality of overtime worked on a holiday. Rafus pointed out that according to Edwards’ and Holtz’ view, an employee working six hours on a holiday would then receive only four hours of holiday pay, although the policy grants a full day’s pay for a holiday. Edwards suggested the policy may need to be re-written, and said she would like to know what other towns do. Joe Tamburrino said that as the policy was currently in force employees should be paid for the holiday plus hours worked, but Holtz and Edwards both responded that policy wording may be unclear as it is open to several interpretations. Rafus read the actual wording of the policy, which describes the holiday pay benefit in one paragraph and the double-time pay for holiday hours worked in a separate section. Patty Dow also took a turn at explaining that holiday pay is a benefit, and separate from compensation for hours worked. Holtz said that, as the problem was in understanding the policy, there was no intention to take anything back, but he wanted to know what other towns do, and also how Halifax handled it before the new policy was implemented. Previously, said Rafus, the rate was the holiday pay plus time-and-a-half for hours worked. Tamburrino said he believes Dow and Rafus had the correct understanding of the policy. Everyone agreed there was more homework to be done on the subject. Dow will do some research to learn how other towns handle the holiday pay situation, and Edwards asked her to also supply data for several years of gross pay per employee.
Act 250/Quarry Hearing Preparation
While the Act 250 traffic criterion, which is a main focus for the Selectboard, will not be addressed until the January 23rd hearing, Edwards pointed out that Criterion 9e, scheduled to be heard on December 9th, makes mention of impact of trucks on area highways. She would like to be prepared when 9e is discussed, and also hopes for an opportunity to ask questions regarding the make, model, number of axles, loaded and empty weight of trucks to be used in hauling quarry stone. We need that information to determine impact on the roads, Edwards said, and we need to know the capacity of the roads. Lewis Sumner said the trucks would be ten-wheelers, like the town trucks, but Edwards had not seen that specific information in the quarry application, and even if that were correct, she said we still should have weight data. Stephan Chait advised we needed the loaded and empty weight, and also the point load per wheel. A road engineer, remarked Holtz, would be more likely to have this last data than would a trucker. Holtz also mentioned that road design is changing and improving on a regular basis, but our roads were probably laid out before design specifications were in place. If tractor-trailers are used, offered Tamburrino, portable scale operators have the ability to measure weight per wheel. Sumner believes these particular issues will not be fully addressed until the second hearing. Discussion moved on to speculation about the size of stone to be moved. The sample piece seen at the site on the day of the prehearing was very large, said Holtz, maybe six feet by six feet.
Edwards now proposed moving the hearing of visitors forward on the meeting schedule, so visitors could speak before the Board started budget discussion.
Hearing of Visitors
Holtz had contact information for Rafus from a Local Roads representative who had stopped by to introduce himself. Local Roads has now merged with AOT. Holtz suggested the town would like training sessions to be held in the southern part of the state. Rafus gets notice of all training classes, but most are located farther north in the state. Perhaps Local Roads could give us some guidance on gravel road capacity, Edwards speculated.
Additional Fuel Difficulties at Town Garage
Rafus told the meeting that despite the corrective measures of pumping sludge from the bottom of the fuel tank and adding biocide, the tank filter—only two weeks old–was so plugged fuel would not come through. The filters on the trucks have also continued to clog. During the Thanksgiving storm Ben Barnett’s truck shut down because of a plugged filter. These filters cost $50-60 each, and Rafus said the highway department is now changing the filters, two per truck, two or three times between normal servicing dates, a process that takes about 45 minutes. We’ve given the supplier a number of opportunities to rectify the problem, said Rafus. He recommended the town cancel the contract and change vendors. Edwards advised assuring another vendor was available, checking with the town attorney, and writing a letter to cancel the current contract. Rafus and the Board agreed the tank should be pumped and cleaned before fresh fuel from a new vendor was received. Sumner will talk to town attorney Fisher. Chait brought up the question of liability; Edwards recommended taking the necessary steps to resolve the issue and moving on, with the understanding the town would handle cleanup measures.
Listers Proposed FY16 Budget
Tamburrino told the Board the Listers would submit figures in time for the December 13th meeting.
New Truck Delay
Rafus has learned it will be several more weeks before the new truck is delivered. This is a matter of serious concern, as the Highway Department already has one truck out of service and in need of an engine rebuild. Edwards asked whether the vendor could supply a loaner until they were able to deliver the new truck.
FY16 Budget Preparation—Selectboard Budget
The balance of the meeting was devoted to examining line items for the Selectboard’s fiscal year 2016 budget. At session close, a portion of these items still needed consideration. Review of Selectboard figures will be completed at the December 13th meeting, and the Highway Department budget will be also be addressed.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 noon.