OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
December 15, 2015
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Doug Grob, and Brad Rafus were present, as were Stephan Chait, Maggie Bartenhgen, Nicholas Bartenhagen, Janet Taylor, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Raymond Combs, Dan Carlson, John LaFlamme, Sue Kelly, Linda Lyon, Cara Cheyette, Andy Rice, Joan LaFogg, Pete LaFogg, and Robbin Gabriel.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to accept the 12/1/15 regular meeting minutes as written. Doug Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 12/5/15 special meeting minutes with one correction. Brad Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 12/7/15 special meeting minutes as written. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Sumner made a motion to accept the 12/12/15 special meeting minutes as written. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Award Bid on Bridge #15 Repairs
The Selectboard opened three bids on the Branch Road bridge repairs at their December 1st meeting. Rafus has since reviewed the bids in detail and spoken with all three bidders to confirm they were bidding to identical specifications. Rafus made a motion to accept the bid from Renaud Brothers, Inc. for $88,500 for repairs on bridge #15. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. In discussion, Sumner told the meeting that Daniels Construction had bid $100,000 and LaFogg and Hathaway Construction had bid $99,150 on the project. Grob mentioned LaFogg’s quote had spelled out in greater detail the amount of damaged concrete to be removed. They’re all going to take it back to the same point?, he asked. Yes, said Rafus, that is actually specified in the quote request. The two lowest bidders—Renaud and LaFogg, are actually the two top contractors on our preferred vendor list. They have both done a lot of good quality work for the town. As Road Commissioner, you will oversee the project?, asked Grob. I will, Rafus replied, unless the Board appoints someone. Ray Combs asked whether the intersection would be straightened. No, answered Sumner. Cara Cheyette asked whether there was any difference between the quotes, other than cost. Just cost, replied Rafus. It is a pretty straightforward project; they all bid on the same thing. Renaud may have been cheaper because they do everything inhouse; they don’t subcontract.
Discuss Current Fiscal Year Emergency Funds Spending—John LaFlamme
John LaFlamme gave the Board a printed summary of last week’s meeting with Entergy. After April 15, 2016, LaFlamme said, the number of federal radiological response plan requirements for Entergy and the towns will drop from over one hundred to four. On that date the fuel rods at the now inoperative plant will have become more stable. While they are not yet ready for dry casks, they are able to withstand ten hours out of water without reacting. At present, the state does not know what the emergency management budget will be in the coming year, but the expectation is that it will drop to zero. Sumner said the Greenfield newspaper had reported an Entergy agreement with New Hampshire that will provide four years of funding; he suggested they might do that in Vermont. They are negotiating, said LaFlamme, but haven’t been able to reach a decision yet. After April, the town should learn what equipment the state wants returned; those decisions have not been made yet. LaFlamme is researching the best ways to utilize remaining supply and training funds for this year, and said the town will need to decide how to fund maintenance on equipment it retains. Will we lose you as emergency management director once funding goes away, asked Cheyette. LaFlamme said the position is a statutory requirement; every town has an EMD. While VY was active they provided funding to make it a paid position. Future stipends, if any, would need to come from the town. Sumner said that line item in the proposed FY17 town budget has been left open for the moment. Various suggestions were offered for ways to use this year’s remaining funding.
Direct Town Attorney to Accept Service of C.A. Denison Declaratory Judgment Complaint and File Motion to Dismiss
Sumner made a motion to hire Town Attorney Robert Fisher to accept service of the C.A. Denison declaratory judgment complaint and file a motion to dismiss. Grob seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0. Does this trigger the twenty-day response time to the court?, asked Stephan Chait. Yes, said Sumner. Cheyette asked for clarification—are you filing a motion to dismiss or a response to the court? Board members explained there were two separate actions, the judgment complaint and the appeal. The motion to dismiss applies to the declaratory judgment complaint. Fisher will also be filing a response to the appeal. The town procurement policy states professional services do not need to be competitively bid, said Chait; do we need a bid request for legal services? Fisher is our town attorney, answered Sumner. We could have chosen another lawyer, but we are using Fisher & Fisher. If the declaratory judgment complaint is dismissed, and the suit is found to be frivolous, can the town ask for reimbursement of legal expenses, asked Maggie Bartenhagen. That will be up to the court, responded Sumner. Cheyette advised the court can order such reimbursement, but it is more common for the defendant’s attorney to file a motion to that effect. Cheyette went on to detail points the court might examine in making the determination.
Executive Session (if necessary)
No executive session was held.
Andy Rice, who had addressed the subject of the Town Constable position at the December 1st meeting, had some further suggestions to offer. If the town were to appoint a constable, Rice said, they might consider not designating a specific term. That way the town is not locked in to a time frame. As to funding, if the position were no longer elected, the constable’s pay would become a line item in the Selectboard budget. Traditionally Halifax has had two constables. An alternative would be one constable, or two positions with one constable and one animal control officer. Rice noted that only one individual can be assigned as truant officer to the school. We can put an article in the town warning, Sumner said. We haven’t discussed it as a Board yet. Sumner told Cheyette the deadline for submitting petitions for an article on the March 2016 town warning is January 14th. Does our constable have police power, asked Ray Combs. Rice explained he had lost all his certifications during the years he did not serve as constable, and has since learned he would have to start over again to regain them. I can do civil process, VIN verifications, and enforce certain town ordinances, Rice said.
Are we going to set up more budget meetings, asked Rafus. After the first of the year, replied Sumner, when we have received the rest of the figures we need.
Hearing of Visitors
Linda Lyon thanked the Board for the work that they do.
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 meeting was adjourned at 8:14 p.m.