TOWN OF HALIFAX, VERMONT
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES—APPROVED
APRIL 4, 2023
CALL TO ORDER:
Silverberg called the meeting to order at 06:00 PM. Selectboard members present were Peter Silverberg, Patrick McAllister, Karen Christofferson, Tristan Roberts and Edee Edwards. Other’s present in person or remotely were Roza Podlaski, Bonnie Batchelder, Ian Colandro, Ezra Parzybok, Laurel Copeland, Sue Kelly, Raleigh Brown and David Meyer, Chris Parkins and Janice Bliss, Betty Roberts, Brad and Peggy Rafus, and Robin Gabriel.
CHANGES OR ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:
There was an item to discuss creation of a financial committee under new business and old business, strikethrough the one under old business.
There is no executive session, it was left from the last meeting.
APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES:
Will revisit at the next meeting.
Bonnie Batchelder came to discuss the audit report findings. Edwards asked about pensions, which was not included in the audit last year. This is a requirement from the state to see what the value of the liability of the town is. It shows that Halifax has made their contributions.
McAllister asked about the material weakness on the balance account sheets of the auditor’s report. Is this something that is frequently found in towns? What recommendations does she have for solving this issue? Batchelder stated that it is a common thing found in towns. Batchelder suggests that we should move from using Quickbooks to a fund-based software which helps towns deal with the ability to deal with municipal accounting (different from for-profit accounting). She suggests that the town should study the adjustments that the auditors do at the end of the year (reconciling property taxes, basic balance sheet accounts) that should be adjusted and reconciled before it goes out to audit. Batchelder stated that regardless if we chose to hire an auditor annually or every 3 years, they will still have to go back and reconcile every year. The cost will still be generally the same for the town. It is easier to go back on the current year than to have to go back 3 years separately.
McAllister made a motion to create a Selectboard Finance Committee. He proposed that the committee have at least 2 members nominated by the board, and 1 member should be on the Selectboard, with extensions in 1 year terms. They will be responsible to review towns quarterly financial statements and engage with the treasurer on accounting and reporting matters. The motion was seconded by Silverberg. Structure is important to keep things on track and not fall through the cracks. The motion passed 5-0.
Roberts moved to nominate Patrick McAllister to the Finance Committee, motion seconded by Silverberg. Silverberg moved to nominate Karen Christofferson to the Finance Committee, seconded by Edwards, passed 5-0.
Silverberg spoke to Rick Gay who agreed to fill in interim for the Zoning Administrator. Bill Moore gave a contact for someone to reach out to. Silverberg will reach out to them to see if they will fill that spot. Silverberg is waiting to hear back from David Jones for the DV Fiber Representative role.
The 3 year auditor position had enough write-in’s for April Dupree and Sarah Barnett received enough votes for the 2 year term. Edwards spoke to Barnett and is waiting to hear back from Dupree if she will take the oath. There were not enough votes for the 1 year auditor position, Jenny Deschand. This will need to be an appointed position if she would like to fill it. Dow reached out to see if she was interested. If we do not hear back on that by the next board meeting, we will need to reach out to VLCT to see what the next step is for vacant positions.
Edwards would like to make an addendum to the Rules of Procedure (online under admin policy) that was last adopted in July of 2022. It currently states to reach out to the board or assistant to add an agenda item. The assistant may not always know what is a Selectboard matter and what is not. The board should decide and approve what is on the agenda. If a resident or someone would like an item on the agenda they should reach out to a board member and not the assistant. Edwards will rewrite the document with changes above and present it back to the board.
The priorities for the board in this upcoming year will be tabled to the next meeting.
Any board member who has a key should fill out a form as part of the key policy. Edwards has a key and Silverberg has a key that the assistant previously had. He will sign the form so we are up to date on who has them.
Dow stated that she may go over on the Assistant Town Clerk Budget and asked what she should do. Fr accounting purposes,McAllister suggested that she spends as needed and then the town will use a line of credit to fill that need at the end of the fiscal year. She should give an estimate for how much she projects she will go over on it to the board.
Paul Blais is working with Windham Regional Commission and the Planning Commission on the State Hazard Mitigation plan, more to come on this when Blais can join.
Highway and Bridge Weight Restrictions were posted this year. Podlaski confirmed that they are available to view on the DMV website.
Some lighting fixtures have failed and need to be fixed. There is potentially some funding for building restoration, which can also be used for the roof. Roberts put in an application for phase 1 on March 14th for MERP Municipal Emergency Resilience Plan. We will wait 4 more weeks to see if we qualify for MERP funding. Those lights were replaced from Vermont Efficiency under a grant about 6 years ago. Silverberg will reach out to them and see if we can get it fixed under warranty or see if they can help fix the lighting.
WSWMD Budget Assessment – This year we have kept the assessment to a 10% increase. They offer in addition to recycling hazardous waste pick-up days (required by law). The assessment for FY23 was $4,800 and now is $5,318.81 for FY24. Account 6710 has $5,319 allocated to it this year. It was accounted for in this year’s budget.
Ian and Dan Colandro are pursuing a licensed mixed-use cultivation facility at their property at 796 Philip Hill Rd. This will be a small, family-run operation. There is a consultant named Ezra Parzybok who is working with them. This is not an action item for the board, only a courtesy to the town to notify residents of their plan. The board neither encourages or discourages people to notify the town of these types of plans. The board has no say or authority in these types of matters. It is a zoning matter. Going forward, this can be an item under “hearing of the visitors” if residents plan to notify the town of any new building projects.
Basecamp has a bar area in the back and is seeking a liquor license renewal. It is the same facility under a new owner. Previously this was signed by the board, now it is all done online. Dow is asking for approval to go ahead with this. The board will give Dow approval to complete online.
PFOAs Town Dump – Silverberg states that the town is at risk and has a liability to test PFOAs in our town water, and the Rafus well water, as the closest well to the dump, and the water at the town garage. Silverberg suggests putting a water cooler at the town garage for precaution. Edwards mentioned that recent reports have not been updated and posted to the town website in recent years. There has been a detection last spring in the town garage water, which was under the limit of the state at that time, but still a detection. PFOA is at 140 ppt and PFOs is 54 ppt. The total regulated PFAs is 246 ppb. KAS will be testing again in May. The VT Dept of Environmental Conservation, Kasey Kathan and James Buzz Surrillo were the representatives who came in 2017 to talk about this. Silverberg will reach out to these folks and see if they have an update. So much has changed since 2017 on this, we should have an update on what the state has to say on the standards and how we should be testing. He will call KAS to add the Rafus’s well on the list for testing.
Edwards wanted to speak on VLCT Open Meeting Law Training Examples – Community meeting and email chains. Someone emailed the board and a board member responded to all. They should not speak with more than 2 board members to be compliant with open meeting law. Edwards suggested that board members only respond only to that person so that we are compliant. Perhaps board members can have a disclaimer at the end of the message that this is only a response from one member and not a formal response from all members. Emails are not the most reliable way to communicate solely with the board. They are encouraged to send information and come to discuss things further in an open meeting.
Silverberg stated that we donated $40,000 of ARPA Funds to help people get set up with DV Fiber. The state is matching that so there is $80,000 set aside for this project. ARPA Funds report to the state is due at the end of April. Dow and Silverberg will take care of that report.
There is an ad in the Deerfield Valley News for the Selectboard Secretary and Administrative Assistant Opening. Silverberg will also place one in the Reformer.
HEARING OF VISITORS:
Betty Rogers came to ask about her appointment to be the Senior Solutions representative. She was notified that she was elected earlier on in this meeting.
She inquired about getting her well tested. She is concerned that her well may be contaminated. Roberts suggested that she reach out to Sue Kelly, the public health officer to get started.
SIGN OVERWEIGHT PERMITS:
None to sign.
The Selectboard Order was read and signed. The Highway Order was also read and signed.
McAllister motioned to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Silverberg, passed 5-0. The meeting adjourned at 8:42 PM.
For the Selectboard