Town of Halifax, Vermont

August 20, 2013

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:29 pm at the town office. Board members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Earl Holtz, and Lewis Sumner. Others in attendance were Jessica Bruno, Greg Marguet, Patty Dow, Brad Rafus, Catherine Belisle, Erik Hansen, Ross Barnett, Christina Moore, and Bill Moore .

Approval of Minutes

Edwards made a motion to accept the August 6, 2013 Regular meeting as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Sumner made a motion to accept the minutes of the August 12, 2013 regular meeting as written. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Holtz made a motion to accept the minutes of the August 13, 2013 special meeting as written. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Sumner made a motion to accept the minutes of the August 17, 2013 special meeting as written. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1 (Holtz abstained).

New Business

Planning & Zoning Vacancies and Board Size

There are two unfilled positions pending the resignation of Linda Smith effective 9/1/13. Edwards reported that VLCT recommends any change in board size be accomplished via a resolution. Evanuk, who is the secretary of those Boards, had previously pointed out that two members have terms that don’t expire on the same date for both Boards. Edwards drafted a resolution to reduce the terms to three years starting in 2015, to reduce the Board sizes to five members, and to synchronize the two terms with unequal expirations.

Sumner made a motion to accept the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment resolution to change from seven members to five members including the synchronizing of term lengths, and the adjustment of term length down to three years starting in 2015. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Quarterly Financial Report

The 2013 fiscal year-end report was provided by Patricia Dow. Edwards noted that the Selectboard budget had a residual amount of approximately $17k largely due to underspent wages and benefits. This was offset by additional money spent on bridges, insurance, and professional services. The Selectboard budget is approximately 7.81% under budget (not including Irene expenses).

The highway budget is approximately $264k overspent (not including Irene expenses). This is largely due to paving, gravel, the new truck purchase, maintenance on trucks, and equipment. It was noted that some of the FEMA money received to replenish gravel during Irene will not show up on the financials until FY14.

The Selectboard will review the financials in more detail and may have another discussion at a future meeting.

Press Coverage Concerns

Edwards has received communication from citizens about inaccuracies in the newspapers. Edwards noted that the newspapers have different methods of reporting. One has a reported that is physically at the meetings, one requests minutes and tends to follow up over the phone, and another apparently gets the minutes off the town website and prepares articles based on that. Edwards expressed that citizens need to realize that they need to view articles with a bit of skepticism. The press is trying but there is not much fact checking. She invites people to read the minutes and to call or email any member of the Selectboard if they have questions.

Hearing of Visitors

The visitors did not have any additional items to add.

Old Business

Irene Update

Christina Moore presented the most current version of the Irene financial picture. She is splitting the Federal and State portions of payments out so that she can more clearly identify the Towns portion. There are four bridges left to close. She will then close out Halifax and get everything down to 95% collected value (amount left is the 5% town portion). Then finally close the 95% level down further to the $38,500 town contribution portion. She noted that Halifax will be the first town to get to that level. Edwards noted that they are looking to pay off the short term loan to People’s in November. She also noted that C. Campeny from Windham Regional has expressed that some towns are keeping their line of credit open in case of emergency. Edwards would like to look into that idea further. She would also like to consider applying any surplus to a rainy day fund to cover future unanticipated costs.

Christina Moore noted that we had gotten the expansion of bridge lengths approved on all projects except Deer Park bridge (7ft approx. $18k). They have 60 days to appeal the decision and she will draft the appeal. She noted that the federal court had ruled that lengthening is ‘mitigation’ to make improvements after a disaster.

The Selectboard discussed Christina Moore’s invoice for closeout. The bill needs to be prepaid so that it can be a FEMA reimbursable expense. Edwards noted that they had budgeted $8,100 for project management this fiscal year. Moore expressed that this is a fixed bid. She has no visibility into the challenges of collecting the last monies. The state and FEMA also have new staff processing the closeouts. Edwards expressed that there is risk to the town as well with a fixed bid and prepayment. Holtz and Sumner were comfortable with the fixed bid. Dow presented the idea of a co-owned escrow account so that Moore can withdraw based on work completed, but they can hold a 10% retainer which can not be withdrawn until completion. Edwards felt this was a good solution and this was the Selectboard’s preference.

Sumner made a motion to accept the Storm Petrol LLC firm fixed bid for Irene Storm closeout project management for $12,500. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Christina Moore acknowledged the November date for the line of credit payoff and will try and get as much money in for that date. She noted that she needs to get the final invoices in ASAP.

Old County North Bridge Project

Edwards reported that they received a response from Holden Engineering regarding the letter they sent concerning HS-20 engineering and construction. Holden’s response was that going down to HS-20 won’t save much money and they still have to evaluate the abutments. They also noted that completion of the design by Nov 30, 2013 is feasible. They will be reducing the geotechnical services, but they noted they still need a backhoe to dig around the abutments. There was acknowledgement of the Selectboard’s concerns and they should have a reasonable basis to move forward. Edwards drafted a purchase order for the engineering work.

Holtz made a motion to amend the purchase order for engineering work on Old County North bridge and send it to Holden Engineering. The purchase order will include a not to exceed limit and HS-20 specification. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Edwards noted that they had a verbal contract for a variance from last fiscal year. They need to talk to the auditors or treasurer about how to document that.

Other Business

Liaison Reports

Holtz has been working on road crew overtime scenarios. Most of the overtime is Oct-March.

The Selectboard would like someone from VLCT to come down and explain the new health insurance changes.

Sumner reported that one vendor showed up at the meeting regarding the bids for the town garage roof/salt shed. Edwards noted that if any other questions come in about the project, the question along with the answer needs to be documented and sent to the other potential bidders.

Edwards reported that the Planning Commission held their public hearing on the town plan. There were some technical issues with the packets so the Planning Commission will have copies available by Friday.


The mail was reviewed and appropriately filed.

Selectmen’s Order to Town Treasurer for bill payment

The order for payment of bills was completed and signed.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:07 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Jessica Bruno

Selectboard Secretary