February 6, 2024




Patrick McAllister called the Regular Meeting of the Selectboard to order at 6:00 PM on February 6, 2024.  Selectboard members present were Pete Silverberg, Edee Edwards and Karen Christofferson. Silverberg, Edwards and Christofferson participated remotely.  Others present in person (or remote) included Andrew Rice, Stephan Chait, Linda Huebner, Laurel Copeland, Linda Lyon, Sue Kelly, Teddy Hopkins, and Merritt Youmell.


Edwards requested that the Approval of Minutes be moved to the end of the Agenda given the number of visitors in attendance.


Open Bids 149 Wheeler Road Property Sale

McAllister opened the only bid received for the 149 Wheeler Road Property Sale.  McAllister read the following into the record:  The bid letter is dated February 4, 2024 and is from Jason and Tara Perna.  They currently live in Shelburne Falls, MA.  Jason lived in West Halifax as did his parents.  The Perna’s want to return to Halifax.  The bid is for $35,000.00.  The Perna’s provided copies of bank statements as proof of sufficient funds in lieu of the pending Certified Letter from the Bank.  McAllister noted that the minimum bid amount was $26,815.39.  McAllister moved to accept the offer pending receipt of the Certified Proof of available funds from the Bank.  Silverberg seconded.  McAllister further noted that we have 30 days to close and that we need to publish the approval of the bid.  McAllister noted that we need to close before the end of March for administrative reasons.  The Town Attorney has already drafted the public notice regarding the bid approval.  Edwards recalled the Perna family and some of their efforts during Hurricane Irene.  The motion was approved unanimously, 4-0.  The Pernas were thanked for their interest.

Animal Control Ordinance request

The next item on the Agenda for discussion was the Animal Control Ordinance.  Edwards opened the discussion to say that she had been contacted by a resident who was walking her pets and was bothered by a dog.  Edwards noted she was a “cat person” not a “dog person” and that she admitted being generally afraid of dogs.  Edwards recounted her prior experience with an episode that she found was difficult for neighbors to discuss.  Edwards did some research on the Town’s Animal Control Ordinance and its recission in favor of the State Laws.

McAllister asked what the rationale for the recission was.

At 6:14pm Rice described a prior event where a pit bull bit people and the Town Attorney was contacted.  He found that the Town Ordinance had too many “loop holes” and so the Town chose to use the State Laws.  Rice directed interested parties to a 30-page document called the VLCT “Big Book of Woof”.  Rice further noted that the State does not have a leash law.  Rather, the animal must be under your control or on your property.  Rice described the process in the event of a dog bite as Rice contacts Kelly (Town Health Officer) who handles the relevant paperwork.  Rather than a new Ordinance, Rice observed “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and that perhaps what is needed is better public education.  Rice noted another situation where a resident is currently refusing to license his dogs.  Rice noted that the resident has until April 1st to comply after which the Selectboard can act.  It was noted that the license requires proof of rabies inoculation.

Rice went on to describe a bill in the Legislature which defines animal care.

Kelly added that the April 1st licensing date is for renewals.  If a dog is unlicensed then action can be taken before then.  Kelly noted she had read the bill before the Legislature and noted it was regarding the licensing of Animal Shelters and Adoption regulations.  Kelly noted that many people fear dogs, they may have been bitten as children and their feelings should be respected.  Kelly noted that in a public place everyone should have their own space.  Kelly recognized it can be a difficult law to enforce but believes it will help the quality of life in Halifax.

McAllister asked Kelly if she was in favor of a Town Ordinance.  Kelly responded that she thought the State one sounds sufficient but it seems as if we need to enforce it.

McAllister noted that the Town doesn’t have a leash law and asked Rice what a resident is to do if approached by a dog not under control.  Rice said that a resident has the right to protect themselves and noted that when a resident was attacked, he could have used a side arm, but chose not to.  It comes down to the Animal Control officer who goes to the owner.  Usually, Rice noted, that when the law is explained the situation can be nipped in the bud.  Rice noted that we need to be careful to stay within our own jurisdiction and gave the example that there was a group of dogs on a location and the situation was addressed in the wrong way.  Andy noted the Green River Road/Moss Hollow location where about 20 dogs were taken. Kelly observed that this was an animal cruelty/neglect situation.

Silverberg observed that the State Law is robust and that the term “under control” is a powerful statement.  He noted that enforcement is the issue.  In particular, if someone refuses to register their dog then we need to follow and enforce the law.

Edwards described a VLCT Model Dog Control Ordinance.  She noted that it provides for complaints about clean up and for providing for peace and tranquility.  Edwards suggested that the Town could add a page to the Website and provide the Animal Control Contact information.  Edwards further suggested it could be circulated via the Town’s Mailchimp and posted to Front Porch Forum (“FPF”).

Christofferson noted the issue with repeat offenders.  Edwards noted that if a dog bite is involved then the Selectboard would be involved in a quasi-judicial process.  Rice explained that the last three dog bites involved dogs that were owned by relatives or guests and not neighbors.  Rice further noted that he is notified for all dog bites treated at a medical facility and he then contacts Kelly as Town Health Officer.  Kelly noted that there has been a history of bites in the road so it does happen.

Silverberg restated that notifying Animal Control is not un-neighborly and people need to be responsible.  Lyon thanked Rice and said she also liked the Town Website idea and said that the Town has lots of unleashed dogs that are not under control.  She said it was uncomfortable but that there is an issue with leash aggression when dogs under control are approached by dogs who are not under control.  Lyon noted she has modified her own habits for a decade.

Lyon noted a situation in December 2023 where there were dogs between herself and her car.  She described seeking refuge in the home of someone she knew and described the actions of the dog and reported she was afraid of a mauling situation.  Lyon asked Rice if she could call him when dogs are not under control.  She asked if the threshold was being bitten?  Rice responded “No – the threshold is as you described it.”  A discussion ensued regarding the contents of the page to be added to the Town website.

Christofferson described her own experiences similar to those described here, most recently during a 6-mile lap around Gates Pond road.  Huebner noted that she has lived in Halifax for 20 years and it never crossed her mind to contact Rice.  She noted Silverberg’s point about being neighborly and said she worried more about the person who owned the dogs than the dogs themselves.

Edwards offered to bring paper copies of the new Town Web Page to Town Meeting as a way of disseminating the information.  Edwards noted the benefit of taking a re-education approach but that she would like to revisit in 6 months.  Silverberg noted two issues: First that we have a person who is not registering his dogs and needs to be held accountable now without delay and second, that he finds the fear expressed by residents at the meeting as disheartening. Edwards asked Rice to address the non-licensing issue. Rice will review the matter and explain the law and penalties to the resident.

Youmell asked if residents with 2nd homes in Halifax are required to register their dogs.  The response was that the requirement is only in the hometown.  It was noted that Dow will allow 2nd home residents to register their dogs at no charge in order to have information.

Christofferson followed up on the notion of being neighborly in these situations and said that she has also had a productive conversation with a neighbor and the situation, as far as she knows, has not recurred and she has not seen the dogs.

Edwards thanked the residents for bringing this to the Selectboards attention.  Lyon offered to help work on the Town Website posting and with FPF as a way to help move the matter forward.

FY24 budget shortfall planning

Edwards described a severe revenue shortfall resulting from the FY24 budget warning and the need for austerity measures versus the use of the Scott Fund to help with a loan.

Silverberg noted that in a prior meeting, the Treasurer expected to begin feeling the issue in April and May.  Chait asked that we identify the shortfall under discussion.  Edwards noted that there will be a special meeting next Monday February 12th to discuss the matter in detail.  In response, Edwards noted that there are two things involved.  First a slight operating deficit and second, a larger issue resulting from last year’s warning where a number was subtracted resulting in an under appropriation of approximately $200k so as a result the Town didn’t collect enough in taxes to cover the approved budget.


Silverberg noted that if funds run short in April we can borrow from the Scott Fund.  Silverberg asked if there was any lead time we need to be aware of.  McAllister said it is pretty quick and that the Trustee of Public funds would only have to ask the Fund Manager to issue a check.  On the Town side he noted that we will need to think about how to structure the loan with respect to Term, payments and schedule.



Town Meeting Report update – Posting budget files on website

Edwards reported that the Town Meeting Book was sent to the printers as scheduled.  She further noted that it took a great deal of time and she will share that information at a later date.  Edwards suggested that we post the Town Meeting Book to the website rather than posting the standalone budget files. McAllister asked if the Auditors Report was included. Christofferson noted that it had been inserted on Sunday evening as page 32.  Edwards offered to post the Town Meeting Book to the website. Christofferson asked where in the website it would be posted. Edwards said she would post in in the Selectboard Section under the Communications heading. NOTE: Link follows:

Edwards also noted that Dow had asked the Selectboard to post the Schoolboard warning and that she will take care of it.

Recap need to rescind reserve fund created with ARPA funds – ARPA grantees: Revise Communication

Edwards explained that the ARPA rescission Agenda item was added for McAllister’s benefit as he was not at the meeting in which it was initially discussed.  Edwards explained that she became aware of the need to move the funds from the Grant Reserve Fund to the General Fund when she was speaking with VLCT about the budget revenue shortfall.  Edwards spoke to Katie Buckley at VLCT.  Buckley is the Director, Federal Funding Assistance Program.   Buckley explained that if Article 17 from last year’s Town Meeting was approved that it can only be used for Grant Management which is the purpose for which it was voted and approved. For that reason, an Article has been added for the Town Meeting to rescind last years article and replace with the corrected Article.  A discussion ensued regarding the General Fund.  Edwards noted that we shouldn’t spend the money until the town has had an opportunity to vote on the new Article.  A discussion ensued about the tracking and reporting requirements.

Edee asked to bow out of further conversations with VLCT on the matter and asked that Christofferson speak with Katie Buckley to make sure that we understand the accounting and reporting requirements.  Silverberg restated that the Town took the funds on a revenue replacement basis where there are fewer rules for small towns.  Christofferson said she and McAllister, as members of the Finance Committee can work together to craft an email to Katie.  McAllister asked Edwards to send a hand off email to Katie Buckley at VLCT and share her background notes and paperwork so we don’t have to revisit old ground.

At 7:13pm Edwards discussed the Roles and Responsibilities for the Special Meeting on Monday February 12th to discuss the Revenue Shortfall.  Edwards noted the need to warn the meeting, publicize it before Town Meeting.  Silverberg offered to open the meeting and that the format would be an open floor so we can share views and explain how we got there and what was done to address the matter.

McAllister agreed that Silverberg should open the meeting but that Christofferson should handle the financial explanation.  Christofferson agreed with the caveat that the only thing she would be able to do is share her screen and walk through the Schedules the Selectboard worked on during the FY25 Budget process.  In particular the Raise & Appropriate Schedule and the Surplus(Deficit) Schedule.  We can show what was warned and what should have been warned at last year’s meeting.

Silverberg noted that he is very comfortable explaining how we got to this year’s budget outcome.  Silverberg thought the meeting should be structured as a Q&A.

Edwards asked about warning the meeting in FPF. Christofferson expressed concern that such a forum could create unintended consequences given the audience is not just Halifax residents.  McAllister suggested that Dow could also put the Sandwich Board outside Town Halll.

Silverberg offered to prepare the Agenda.  Following a discussion, the description in the warning will be “Discuss Budget Deficit in advance of Informational Meeting”


There was none.



Hopkins introduced himself as the Delinquent Tax Collector for Readsboro.  He brought to the Selectboard’s attention a bill in the Legislature called H629 and suggested that someone from the Town should review it.  He explained that there will be a change so that in the future Town’s will not be able to put a property up for sale for unpaid taxes without also covering the market value of the home, not just the unpaid tax and related expenses.  Hopkins suggested that someone should contact our Representative and VLCT for further information and to express our views.  He said that a lot of Towns have sent responses.  Following a discussion it was summarized that the calculation of tax sale proceeds would need to include the Market Value and would impact the amount that goes to the State.


Edwards noted the Selectboard would take it under advisement that the issue has been brought to the Selectboard’s attention but that we haven’t voted on it as a board and that the board is not taking a position on Legislative matters that we haven’t read yet.  McAllister agreed this should be discussed as a board and put on the Agenda for another meeting. Edwards mentioned that VLCT is advocating against it.


Merrit Youmell introduced herself as a 1st & 2nd grade teacher in the Halifax School.  She explained that she is beginning a unit on civics and local government for her students and asked if any members of the Selectboard could come to her class and introduce themselves and meet the class.  She thought the time frame would be about 30 minutes, after the Town Meeting given how much is already on our plates.  McAllister suggested that maybe the class could have a Town Meeting role play.  Silverberg volunteered to be the point person from the Selectboard and will follow-up.


Edwards mentioned that Dow had said there were several Overweight Permits. McAllister said he would locate them. In the interim, the Board began the Approval of Minutes.


  • January 20, 2024 Selectboard Special Meeting Minutes
  • Edwards moved to approve as Amended. Silverberg seconded, Approved 4-0
  • January 23, 2024 Selectboard Special Meeting Minutes
  • Edwards moved to approve as Amended. Christofferson seconded, Approved 4-0
  • January 25, 2024 Selectboard Special Meeting Minutes
  • Edwards moved to approve as Amended. McAllister seconded, Approved 4-0

Edwards noted that the Minutes for the February 2nd meeting need to be posted tomorrow (February 7th) and that she and Christofferson had split responsibility during the session.


At 7:55pm Edwards moved that the board enter Executive Session to discuss a couple of personnel matters. McAllister seconded.  Vote 4-0.  There were no participants in the room nor on the Zoom session, recording was stopped.

At 8:35pm the board came out of Executive Session and “Recording in Progress”

Edwards suggested that we try to advertise for a temporary replacement in the Highway Department and to help with staffing.  Silverberg said he would work with Fournier tomorrow.


McAllister read the itemized Selectboard Order with a total amount of $10,373.21

McAllister read the two Highway Orders.  The Expenses were $7,922.88



McAllister located the correspondence and reported them as follows:

  • 2023 Equalization Study Results. It was agreed to be added to an Agenda for the next Meeting.  The study noted calculations related to Grand Lists and mandated reappraisals. Edwards noted it as a Statewide Issue.
  • Overweight permits need to be signed. Following a discussion, McAllister was authorized to sign them as an Authorized Agent and leave them on Dow’s desk.
  • Action Required: McAllister described a letter from the Department of Building and General Services and the need for the Town to register on the “VTBuys” Portal by January 24th or delays may result.  Following a discussion, McAllister was asked to put a sticky on it and hand over to the Treasurer.  Silverberg noted that it was on the Vermont State Site.



McAllister moved we adjourn at 8:50pm, Silverberg seconded. The motion carried unanimously 4-0.

Recording stopped at 8:50pm


Respectfully submitted,

Karen Christofferson, secretary pro tempore

Meeting Recording Part A:

Meeting Recording Part B (after Executive Session):