Town of Halifax, Vermont

February 24, 2020

The yearly pre-Town Meeting Selectboard/School Board Informational Meeting and Meet the Candidates Night opened shortly after 7:00 p.m. in the Halifax School multipurpose room, with approximately 35-40 people in attendance. Moderator Paul Blais advised that the Town portion of the meeting would be held first. Candidates for town office introduced themselves, beginning with Blais, who is on the ballot for a one-year term as Moderator. Lewis Sumner, who is running for re-election as Selectman (three-year term), was asked how long he had served. I was on for 36 years, then three years off, and I just finished 15 more, he responded. Patricia Dow is running for re-election as Town Clerk and Treasurer (both three-year terms). Tina Blais (Lister, three years), briefly described the Listers’ work and training, and the reappraisal process currently underway in Halifax. She also responded to a question about the need for three Listers, explaining that Patty Dow has been functioning as a silent third lister, who is trained and available if needed, but is not taking a regular wage. Many small towns function with only one or two Listers, said Blais. Laura Sumner (Collector of Delinquent Taxes, one year), said she has held the position for 18 years. The Town’s current delinquent tax balance is $19,574.37. Tina Blais is also running for Town Agent (one year), and Paul Blais is running for Trustee of Public Funds (three years) as Howard Smith has announced his retirement. Clifton Inman will be on the ballot for a three-year position as Cemetery Commissioner, while a second seat on that Commission remains open. Paul Blais is on the ballot to fill a three-year position, and Jessica Cooney a one-year position, as School Directors. There are no contested positions on the Town ballot this year.

The Moderator next addressed the list of articles on the Town Warning. Broadband Committee member David Jones passed out flyers and gave a presentation on Article 3, which asks voters if the Town should form a Deerfield Valley Communications Union District. (For details, see the link to informational flyer below this text.) Cara Cheyette, a Broadband Committee member, encouraged residents to respond to the Windham Regional Commission’s survey, which is now available online and in paper form. Mitch Green told the meeting that this year special funds requests were listed as individual articles instead of being grouped together in one article, to possibly make it easier for voters to vote in opposition to specific requests they would prefer not to support.

The School Board portion of the meeting began with introductions: Jessica Cooney, Paul Blais, Homer (Chum) Sumner, Cindy Florence, Helyn Strom-Hendrickson, and Jim Irace (School Directors); Karen Atwood (Business Manager); and Barbara Komons-Montroll (Superintendent). Chum Sumner responded to questions about the proposed school budget, saying increases were due primarily to a higher number of high school students and transportation costs, with smaller increases attributed to several other areas. School officials also answered a handful of questions regarding the proposed withdrawal from the Unified School District, and Karen Atwood discussed the State’s weighted–or equalized–student formulas, which are currently under review.

The meeting concluded at 8:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Robbin Gabriel
Selectboard Secretary