OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
July 3, 2018
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner and Bradley Rafus were present; Mitchell Green was working late and unable to attend. Peggy Rafus, Stephan Chait, Cara Cheyette, Tim Putnam, and Robbin Gabriel were also present.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
Lewis Sumner made a motion to accept the 6/19/18 regular meeting minutes as written; Brad Rafus noted one change. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0.
Sumner said the Board met with employees in executive session for annual reviews on 6/26/18, with no action taken.
Road Reclassification Discussion (continued)
Sumner and Rafus agreed to hold off on this discussion until Mitch Green was available to participate.
Set Applicants’ Interview Date
Rafus advised the Town has five applicants for the road crew position. He told Stephan Chait four applicants were from Halifax, and one from an adjoining town. While employees are not required to be Halifax residents, they do need to be able to reach the workplace fairly quickly when needed. In Brattleboro, said Sumner, highway department employees can live in the town or in any adjacent town. The Board will meet in executive session at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 5, 2018, to conduct interviews.
Peggy Rafus, Emergency Management Director, advised that all the Town’s paperwork related to October 2017 storm damage compensation has been successfully submitted as of last Tuesday. We are now waiting for the FEMA representative to finalize some documentation, then we should be receiving reimbursement. Also, a check from the final (FY18) Vermont Yankee grant has been received from the State; that money represents reimbursement for the cost of upgrading the Highway Department repeater and radios.
Sumner recommended postponing the executive session for wage review until Thursday’s meeting, so Green could be present.
The repeater tower contract has been finalized and signed, said Sumner. One change was made in the wording; the agreement states that the amount of compensation can be reviewed yearly.
Sumner advised that Health Officer Sue Kelly had received a complaint from a renter in Halifax. In response, Kelly inspected the property and prepared a notice to the owner itemizing violations in need of correction. She asked Sumner to review the notice, which was then sent by registered mail to the property owner. Sumner confirmed for Chait that the owner now must meet the repair schedule outlined in the Health Officer’s notice, or daily fines will be imposed. Cara Cheyette asked how many rental properties exist in Halifax. Quite a few, answered Sumner. How do people (renters) know who to call?, asked Cheyette. In this instance, said Sumner, I think the tenant called the State, and the State called Kelly, our local Health Officer.
Last year, Windham Solid Waste Management District’s estimate of the cost to close the recycling facility was $92,213, said Sumner. The actual cost was $70,660, so the Town will not be billed for the fourth quarter this year. Sumner told Rafus the WSWMD Green-Up Day invoice had been paid in May. Rafus explained to Chait that the Waste District used to take Green-Up collections at no charge, but in recent years they charge by weight for trash, plus charges for tires and metal. The fees became necessary because WSWMD has to pay to dispose of tires, and many tires are collected and turned in.
Hearing of Visitors
Stephan Chait, a Windham Regional Commission’s Halifax representative, shared news of current WRC activities. Chait said WRC has received certification of compliance for their regional energy plan from the Commissioner of Public Service. The certification allows WRC to approve town energy plans within their jurisdiction.
On the evening of June 27th, WRC facilitated an open meeting law training session. Chait and Alice Aldrich (Halifax Planning Commission) attended the event. Chait said the presentation featured Jim Barlow, an attorney and a former employee at the VLCT municipal assistance center. The session was very informative, said Chait, and Aldrich brought back handouts which she will give to the Selectboard and the Planning Commission.
WRC is preparing to update their regional plan; Chait said the Executive Director is looking for input from local officials and citizens. The plan, when completed and approved, will be good until 2040, so Chait said WRC is looking for ideas from younger people in the area, in order to incorporate their vision of future life in Windham County. Rail transportation is one topic under discussion; in Massachusetts, a three-year pilot program to establish rail service between Greenfield and Springfield was recently announced, and WRC plans to consider the question of possible rail service from Greenfield into Vermont. Flood resiliency is another subject of interest. The WRC Executive Director would like to examine how the region, and towns, should be dealing with larger and more frequent flooding possibilities. Chait said that, as a member of the WRC project review committee, he will be involved in this process.
Chait said the Green River Watershed Alliance meeting, held May 30th in Guilford, was helpful and useful; he suggested some form of follow-up, to help citizens understand the impact of Act 64 on local roads.
Chait also advised that WRC is providing technical assistance in the on-going process of updating the Halifax Town Plan. That update will address new State regulations related to flood resiliency, forest block connectivity (Act 171), and energy (Act 174).
Sumner thanked Chait for keeping the Board informed. Rafus suggested that should the Watershed Alliance schedule additional meetings, they might consider holding one in Halifax, and perhaps Marlboro, to further engage the public. Chait said he would ask about organizing another meeting–maybe at the Community Hall—with a stream-flow table demonstration. Rafus recommended Jim Ryan, who is overseeing Act 64 implementation for the State, as a guest speaker who could provide information and answer questions.
Cara Cheyette recalled conversation, during the joint Selectboard/School Board meeting held to award Cael scholarships, regarding the question of holding training on open meeting law. She said John Gannon (State Representative) had recommended Attorney Jim Barlow to conduct open meeting law training and she (Cheyette) had provided Gabriel with that information. Sumner said the School Board has been busy with numerous meetings as the transition (July 1st) from separate Halifax and Readsboro Boards to the new unified Board takes place.
Chait asked whether the Selectboard would address road reclassification at their next meeting. Yes, answered Sumner; Mitch Green must have gotten tied up in traffic. On an issue that important, we need the whole Board here, said Rafus, to be fair to him and fair to everyone involved.
Sumner added to the earlier information from WSWMD. Notification has been received from the State that no recycling grant monies would need to be repaid, as it has been about 25 years since the grants were awarded. Is there a date when WSWMD will begin producing solar power?, asked Chait. Sumner said they were supposed to have a test run about two weeks ago, and the project was 99% done when that announcement was made. The Town should start seeing benefits in July. Sumner told Chait the school had not signed an agreement for the solar project, as Act 46 unification was still in process when solar contracts were being negotiated. The Town signed a contract for the Town Garage. Sumner wasn’t sure if the street lights were included, but said the District will receive $100,000 in yearly rent for 20 years, which will reduce Town membership costs. That will depend on how many towns bail out, said Cheyette. Sumner doesn’t expect to see many more towns withdraw from the District; if they do, they will have to hold four hazardous waste collections each year, and provide education. These requirements are expensive.
Selectboard’s Order to Treasurer for Payment
The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.
Correspondence was reviewed, including a letter from a resident thanking the Selectboard for the way they handled themselves last meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:47 p.m.