Town of Halifax, Vermont
December 12, 2015


Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 a.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Doug Grob, and Brad Rafus were present, as were Cara Cheyette, Rick Gay, Edee Edwards, Nicholas Bartenhagen, Stephan Chait, and Robbin Gabriel.

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda


New Business

Review Savoy Engineering HVAC Packet
Board members reviewed the results of Savoy Engineering’s town garage ventilation and condensation defects assessment. Savoy is of the opinion that the garage roof itself is sound and does not need to be replaced; the engineering study provides three options for corrective measures related to upgrading insulation and eliminating condensation. Gabriel will schedule a meeting between the Board and Savoy at the town garage to discuss specifics of the possible choices.

FY17 Budget Preparation (Highway Budget)
During this second session of working on the proposed town budget figures for FY17, the Board examined line items in the highway budget. Brad Rafus recused himself during the discussion of highway employee wages and benefits. Edee Edwards asked whether the proposed figure included monies for raises in FY17. Rafus said no, the number was based on current pay rates and included road commissioner’s pay plus a worst-case-scenario overtime figure of 180 hours. The original proposed total wage figure was $240,975. Rafus said if that number were raised to match the FY16 budgeted amount of $246,811 it would allow for a possible 2% raise in FY17. Lewis Sumner told Stephan Chait that a 2% proposed raise was adequate, as wages had been raised in FY16 to a level more closely matching those of adjacent towns. The Board agreed to maintain the FY17 proposed gross wages at the FY16 level. Cara Cheyette asked whether there was equivalency with other area towns relating to number of employees, road mileage, and work performed. Whitingham has six highway employees but fewer miles of road, said Sumner. Rafus said Guilford has four full-time employees, one part-time employee, and is considering adding a fifth full-time employee. Cheyette suggested employees should not have the option of getting paid for unused comp time. Comp time must be used within the calendar year, explained Rafus, and is a way of reducing overtime costs as it pays straight time. Comp time is new to us, he said, and is administered according to the method recommended by VLCT.

Proposed health insurance costs were calculated to reflect an anticipated change to family plan for one employee. As insurance premium changes occur at the beginning of a calendar year, and the town operates on a fiscal year, premium costs between January 1st and June 30th of 2017 cannot be exactly predicted. An estimated amount for town garage ventilation repairs was included under building repairs and maintenance. Sand, salt, chloride, and resurfacing proposed costs are the same as FY16, with gravel and stone reduced by $58,500, and diesel fuel down about $10,000. Rafus said he has about 7,000 yards of material currently stockpiled to be crushed for gravel; with a rented crusher he estimates the town could crush 15-20,000 yards of gravel in a month, at a cost of $2.00 plus labor per yard—considerably less than the $18-20 a yard we are currently paying to purchase gravel and truck it from other locations. Cheyette questioned the substantially higher cost of resurfacing compared to purchasing gravel. Some of our paved roads need to be totally reclaimed, explained Rafus, because there was a four or five year period in the past when no paving was done. However, a properly reclaimed paved road will last as long as ten years, whereas gravel roads must be improved every year.

The Board examined the equipment schedule, which shows the loader and excavator paid in full, FY17 lease payments on the grader and Ford F550 totalling $51,000, lease payment on the combined purchase (this year) of the International TerraStar and GMC, $25,000, and an anticipated $40,000 lease payment on a replacement truck for the International dump truck in FY17. Rafus noted that purchasing two smaller trucks this year combined in a single lease agreement lowered estimated lease payments from $141,000 to $117,500. Once we replace truck #1 (the International dump), our next purchase will not be until 2021.

As with the Selectboard budget, the highway budget is awaiting a few final figures before completion. Currently, the projected highway budget is about $36,000 less than in FY16.

Executive Session (if necessary)
No executive session was held.

Hearing of Visitors

Rick Gay asked and received Board permission to have Gabriel write a few letters for him related to town zoning business.

Stephan Chait asked for an update on the Denison declaratory complaint; Sumner said that item was on the Tuesday, December 15th meeting agenda.

Edee Edwards had three topics to discuss. She asked whether Joe Tamburrino’s resignation as lister, which is effective end of January, 2016, allows time for the empty position to be filled by election. Sumner said yes, as the Board has formally accepted the resignation. Secondly, Edwards spoke about the decision to put the full zoning regulation revision, including the separate bylaw amendment on two definitions, before the voters at town meeting in March. The two definitions went through the Planning Commission and Selectboard hearing process earlier this year, with the intent of holding a special election to vote on them. Ultimately, the Selectboard made a decision to present them in March along with the entire revision package, as the date of the proposed special election would have fallen not long before Town Meeting. Edwards has concerns that this change of plan might create a legal loophole that could cause difficulty later. Gabriel said she had been advised that the two items should be combined in a single vote if presented in the Town Meeting articles; she will double-check the information with the Secretary of State’s office.

Edwards told the meeting that VTel had been in contact with a Broadband Committee member (who has now resigned) with a request to hold a meeting in Halifax to sign up subscribers. Edwards asked for Selectboard recommendations on the topic. The suggestion was made that VTel could rent the Community Hall for this purpose.

Old Business


Other Business



The meeting was adjourned at 9:57 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary