Town of Halifax, Vermont

January 7, 2020

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Mitchell Green, and Bradley Rafus were present, as were Ray Combs, Stephan Chait, Tristan Roberts, David Jones, and Robbin Gabriel.

Changes and/or Additions to Agenda

Brad Rafus has some highway issues to discuss.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes

Lewis Sumner made a motion to approve the 12/17/19 regular meeting minutes with a minor change. Mitch Green seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining.

Sumner made a motion to approve the 12/31/19 special meeting minutes as written. Green seconded the motion, which passed, 2-0-1, with Rafus abstaining.

New Business

Broadband Committee Appointments
Sumner advised the Board has received five letters of interest from individuals willing to serve on the Broadband Committee; the applicants are Tristan Roberts, Stephan Chait, David Jones, Cara Cheyette, and Bob Teree. Sumner made a motion to appoint Tristan Roberts, Stephan Chait, David Jones, Bob Teree, and Cara Cheyette to the Boardband Committee. Green seconded the motion. In discussion before the vote, Rafus mentioned he had also seen an email from another person. The Selectboard did hear from Daniel Lavoie and David Harris; both were interested in supporting the Committee’s efforts but were not applying to serve on the Board. Sumner said he thought five was a good number, while Rafus said more could be added later if needed. Term length was discussed; Green offered an amendment to the motion; terms will be one year, ending March 2021. Rafus seconded the motion to amend, which passed, 3-0. The Board then voted on the original motion, which passed, 3-0. Sumner told the three new members present they should schedule a meeting to organize; agendas should be published and minutes taken. David Jones asked if the Broadband Committee could meet in the Town offices; Sumner said yes, they should communicate with the Town Clerk to chose an evening when no other meetings are scheduled.

Jones told the meeting the Deerfield Valley Broadband Working Group would be meeting on January 15th, the official name of the proposed communications union district would be confirmed at that time, and participants expect to learn which towns plan to include an article on their March town warning for a vote on whether to join a CUD. Halifax will have an article on its town warning.

Appoint Planning Commission/ZBA Member
The Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment have had a vacancy for several months. Sumner said Tom Fox has volunteered to fill those positions. Green made a motion to appoint Tom Fox to the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment, to fill the term expiring in March 2020. Rafus seconded the motion, which passed 3-0. Stephan Chait asked about Fox’s qualifications. He’s vice president of John McCloud’s business in Wilmington, replied Sumner. He has good common sense. And business experience, added Green. Fox is also a Halifax resident and property owner; Rafus said Fox has lived here more than twenty-five years.

Rafus advised the Town has spent the FY20 budgeted amount on sand this winter, but he has already gone through three-quarters of the supply and will need to purchase more. We will try to truck most of it ourselves, to keep the cost down, he said; we have to have it. Green asked if we have money left in other areas. There is a little in the gravel and the chloride budgets, said Rafus. He told Chait he estimates we’ll need another thousand yards of sand. We bought four thousand and have used almost three thousand so far this winter. How much do the trucks carry?, asked Ray Combs. The tandems carry 14 yards, said Rafus. Some of these storms we’re sanding three or four times a day. Where will the sand come from?, asked Chait. The Fletcher pit in West Brattleboro, Rafus responded. He told Combs that while the Town uses sand meeting State specifications, State approval is not required.

Rafus said the Highway Department has had problems with one truck every storm this winter, including today. It’s a 2013, no longer under warranty, each breakdown involves the emissions system, and the truck has to be sent out for repairs, as the Town does not have the necessary diagnostic equipment. It is putting us behind every storm, said Rafus, and has cost $120,000 in repairs and maintenance over the last five years. It is also costing the Town more in overtime. Dysfunctional emissions systems have been a problem with a series of newer-model trucks. Rafus suggested the Town consider purchasing a used, older model truck as a back-up unit which our crew could work on here. What would that involve?, asked Chait. Money, said Rafus. He has done some research and estimates a pre-2005 used truck could be purchased for $25-$30,000. Green wondered if an outside contractor could help with sanding when our truck is down, but Rafus said he did not know of anyone with the necessary equipment. Green also recommended Rafus investigate the availability of specific used trucks and bring that information to the next meeting for discussion. Answering a question from Chait, Rafus said adding an older, used vehicle would not have much of an impact on our insurance costs. Since the problem truck is out of warranty, is there any recourse?, asked Chait. Not really, given its age, answered Rafus, but there is a nationwide class action suit in process for that class of International trucks, and we are looking into it.

Old Business


Other Business


Hearing of Visitors

Stephan Chait said that the Conservation Commission recently sent a letter to Windham Solid Waste Management District supporting their application for a grant to assist in educating the public on proper recycling and composting methods. A copy was forwarded to the Selectboard and Chait wanted to verify that Board members had received and were aware of the letter.

David Jones advised that Windham Regional Commission has requested the Selectboard name someone as spokesperson for the Town at the WRC Broadband Kickoff Meeting on January 16th. Tristan Roberts suggested Jones as the spokesperson, and Stephan Chait as alternate. Green made a motion to appoint David Jones as spokesperson and Stephan Chait as alternate at the Windham Regional Commission Broadband Kickoff Meeting. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.

Selectboard’s Order to Treasurer for Payment

The Selectboard’s Order to the Treasurer was reviewed and signed.


Correspondence was reviewed. The State has sent this year’s equalized grand list figures. Sumner said our COD (Coefficiency of Dispersion) is high, but that was expected, and the Town is currently undergoing a full reappraisal. Board members reviewed and signed their report for the 2020 Town Report. The Board has also received the yearly mileage certificate packet from the State. The document will be filled out to include a classification change on Thurber Road, and Board members will sign the certificate at a later meeting.

Executive Session
None held.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:13 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary