OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
October 20, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner and Douglas Grob were present, as were Tim Putnam, Ray Combs, Stephan Chait, Cara Cheyette, Brad Rafus, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Edee Edwards, Margaret Bartenhagen, Nicholas Bartenhagen, Greg Marguet, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 9/22/15 public hearing minutes as written. Doug Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 10/6/15 regular meeting minutes as written. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
Sumner made a motion to approve the 10/13/15 special meeting minutes as written. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
Open Town Garage Roof Bids
No bids were received in response to the Town’s request for quotes on plans to resolve the roof, ventilation, and insulation defects at the town garage. The bid deadline was October 20th, and the Board had expected to receive a proposal from Savoy Engineering, as company representatives had inspected the building and discussed the situation during the October 13th pre-bid meeting. The Board agreed they could take no action tonight, but would wait a few days in case a submission was still in the mail.
Sumner told the meeting the deadline for letters of interest from candidates is November 3rd. The Board would like to hold interviews and make an appointment on that date.
Special Election Discussion
The Selectboard agreed at its last meeting to schedule a special election on the proposed separate bylaw amendments as soon as possible. By law, that election would have also included voting to elect members to fill Selectboard seats currently held by appointment. Thereafter, Gabriel learned from the Secretary of State’s office that candidate’s petitions must be signed and submitted to the Town Clerk by 5 p.m. on the sixth Monday preceding an election date. That requirement means a special election could not be held before the latter part of December. Sumner said many residents would have plans for the holiday season, and a January date would fall less than two months before March 1st Town Meeting. Sumner advised waiting for Town Meeting, and Grob agreed. Grob made a motion to postpone putting the separate bylaw amendments before the voters until March 1st. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0. The town warning will contain a single article for a vote on the full text of the revised zoning regulations. In discussion, Edee Edwards said she still had a concern that clarifying the zoning regulations should happen as soon as possible. We’re going into a busy season, but having someone on the Board with a stake in the budget should also happen as soon as possible, she added. If we appoint a member, replied Sumner, that person will be part of the budget process. We start working on the budget in December; we hope to appoint a new Board member on November 3rd. Cara Cheyette asked Grob about his suggestion at the last meeting that the Selectboard adopt the proposed bylaw amendments in the form of interim zoning, rather than putting the issue before the voters. I thought perhaps the Selectboard had the authority to simply adopt the definition changes, answered Grob, but that is not the case. I just wanted to get this done as soon as possible.
Discuss Wood Heat Initiative Recommendations
Brad Rafus and Board members reviewed the Windham Regional Commission’s recommendations regarding the possible installation of a wood pellet boiler at the town garage. Sumner noted that while the document states 50% of the project cost would be covered by grant monies with the other 50% being the town’s responsibility, no estimate of the full cost was provided. Is that pellets or wood chips, asked Ray Combs. Pellets, said Sumner. Also, the current boiler, which burns oil, is the most efficient one on the market today. To apply for a grant, the Town must have an audit done; the town would be responsible for $725.00, or 25%, of the audit cost. Grob told Combs a silo would be needed for pellet storage. Cheyette asked whether the present boiler could be sold. Probably, said Sumner, but we might not get much for it. Rafus said the furnace is twelve years old. I’m not saying no to it, said Sumner, but before we pay for an audit ERC should be able to give us a rough estimate, based on other installations, of the project cost. Gabriel will query WRC for an estimate.
Update on Bridges
Grob asked whether any further action had been taken on the Branch Road bridge. Sumner said we should get bid requests out soon, so work can be done in the spring. We have to re-apply for a grant, said Rafus, and applications don’t open until April. But we do need to have bids before a grant is awarded. We fund the project in our budget; if the grant is approved part of the cost is covered. If it is denied, we decide whether to proceed or not. Rafus already has an estimate on guard rail work. Rafus and Gabriel will prepare bid requests for the project.
Hearing of Visitors
Grob asked Rafus about his schedule for cutting the trees in Green River. A spot by Tom O’Brien’s old place is particularly in need of attention, he said. I have to find the time, replied Rafus; if we have a couple of warm days next week I can probably send a couple of guys down there. We have state permission to cut the trees into lengths, as long as we don’t put any equipment in the river.
Greg Marguet mentioned that some towns have a gravel compactor they use when repaving roads. Should the town have one of those? I’d love to have one, answered Rafus. It all comes down to money. Some of our equipment is leased, said Marguet. Can we send one of those back and get a roller? What are you going to do when we need to plow the roads?, asked Sumner. Rafus and Sumner explained that the town’s lease agreements are not like rental contracts; we get excellent interest rates, but there is a penalty for paying the lease off early. How many miles of road does the town have, asked Cheyette. Sixty-four miles of Class 2 and 3 roads, Sumner told her, thirteen paved and the rest gravel.
Turning to the subject of trash disposal, Marguet asked how many Halifax properties house full-time residents, and how many are seasonal. About 50%, Sumner estimated, adding that under the new law area towns are operating on a pay-as-you-throw system. Cheyette wondered whether Halifax had investigated an arrangement for trash disposal with Whitingham, which has its own transfer station. It’s a possiblity, said Sumner, but the majority of towns with a transfer station don’t want to accept refuse from other towns; there’s the potential for abuse, and the receiving towns have to handle disposal of what they collect. Edwards commented that 2010 census figures could be found in the Halifax Town Plan; those numbers might include data on resident/non-resident percentages.
Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer for Bill Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Various pieces of correspondence were reviewed and appropriately filed. The Town is expecting to receive a health insurance renewal instruction packet soon; Gabriel will ask VLCT whether a respresentative might be available to attend the November 17th Selectboard meeting and provide information about insurance plans and the new Cadillac tax. The Board received a very complimentary letter from the Kupchunos family, expressing satisfaction with the manner in which Brad Rafus addressed and resolved their concerns about road work on Jacksonville Stage Road (Town Hill). Sumner said a State representative visited the old landfill recently and has approved discontinuation of yearly sampling after one final inspection this fall. KAS Engineering will handle the necessary paperwork. This should save the town approximately $3,000 a year.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.