January 20, 2024




Pete Silverberg called the Special Meeting of the Selectboard to order at 10:00 am on January 20, 2024.  Selectboard members present were Pete Silverberg, Edee Edwards, Patrick McAllister, Tristan Roberts and Karen Christofferson.  Others present in person (or remote) were Patty Dow, Wendy Musiak, and David Jones. Gretchen Havreluk was facilitating.




ARPA funds process, expenditures to dates, and deadlines, including VLCT guidance

Edwards gave an overview of the initial funds, expenditures to date, deadlines and guidance. Referencing VLCT ARPA October 23, 2023 update obtained by Christofferson, Edee noted the three ways to expend ARPA ahead of schedule:

  1. Spend directly from your ARPA special revenue fund (for non-recurring or infrequent items).
  2. Use it as a revenue source during your next annual budget process. If you will use this approach, then this budget cycle is your last opportunity to do this!
  3. Transfer it to your General Fund to create fund balance [“surplus”]. (And be done with it!)

Edwards noted that Silverberg was primary ARPA SB member and Christofferson was backup. Silverberg noted that there isn’t a lot to the role and that it is mostly reporting.  A discussion ensued about pending reporting to US Treasury.

Edwards noted that administering allocations can be challenging and noted that David Jones was in attendance relative to DVFiber.

Dow (Town Treasurer) noted that the ARPA funds were deposited directly into the General Reserve Fund.

Christofferson noted the VLCT guidance under the presentation heading “BEFORE transferring to your General Fund, think it through”

  1. Do you have adopted financial policies that address the treatment of fund balance? (example: VLCT’s “Fund Balance Reserve Policy”)?
  2. Is there a history for how the municipality has treated fund balance?
  3. Is there an existing reserve fund to which fund balance created by ARPA could be transferred?* It cannot be a “rainy day fund.” ARPA cannot be used to directly fund a rainy day fund.
  4. Will the municipality need to create a new reserve fund for the purpose of using these funds? If so, then voter approval will be required.** Do not use the term ARPA when creating a new reserve fund.

Dow noted:

Item 1: Was covered as having been approved at Town Meeting.

Item 2: Historically, if monies were deposited into a reserve fund it stayed there for the specified purpose

Item 3: There was an existing “rainy day” fund, but we have not deposited funds into it in many years.

Item 4:  Edwards noted that the term “ARPA” was used in the Town Meeting Articles description of the fund, but not the name of the fund.


Silverberg noted that initially, ARPA didn’t work for small towns, but a change to  the “revenue replacement” designation allowed small towns to use APRA funds as you saw fit.  Silverberg further noted that we have submitted two annual reports.

It was noted that the key deadlines include March 2024 as the deadline to obligate funds. After a discussion, with input from Town Treasurer as to the specific amounts previously summarized by Edwards, the Selectboard agreed that the accounting for the funds to date are as follows:

Grant Reserve Fund:

  • $204,474.29 original amount received in several installments:
    • $47.99
    • $66,991.10
    • $35,646.18
    • $66,142.84
    • $35,646.18
    • NOTE: Subsequent to this SB meeting, Christofferson confirmed these amounts via the VLCT “How much did your community receive?” Link provided in the October 23, 2023 materials noted above.
  • Less: $68,417.83 Expenditures to date: as follows:
    • $40,000.00 for DVFiber – 1st allocation
    • $10,000.00 for DVFiber – 2nd allocation
    • $2,554.83 for [Electronic Equipment]. With $3,000 originally allocated
    • $7,900.00 for Town Hall Windows – 1st Installment
    • $7,963.00 for Town Hall Windows – 2nd Installment
  • $136,056.46 Total original balance remaining

Silverberg noted we need to expend the remaining funds ASAP.

Edwards noted that last year taxes increased by 16% and this year taxes are estimated to increase by 12%, so taxpayers face an increasing burden.

Havreluk noted that the best use of funds is to consider long term improvements and not to duplicate other grants.  Havreluk distributed the list of “Halifax Project List” prepared following her last meeting with the Selectboard.

ARPA funding decisions

  • Town of Halifax project priorities (mtg. October 18, 2023)

Discussion turned to a review of the previously identified project priorities. Roberts discussed opportunities for town amenities. A discussion ensued about obtaining Village designation. Havreluk noted that the designation may be changing so now may not be a good time to invest towards this. Christofferson noted that the designation requires water and sewer.

Edwards noted that she may have some conflict of interest in some ARPA decisions because she has donated to several organizations. Christofferson and Roberts stated that they too have contributed to several community organizations but has not financial interest so does not consider it a conflict. Other board members concurred with this view but thanks Edwards for raising the potential issue.

Roberts noted projects such as a Pavillion which has high community interest.  A discussion ensued that the project may be difficult to execute.

Roberts asked Havreluk what MTAP can fund for the town. Havreluk noted it has not been determined yet.

Town of Halifax budget needs (current)

Christofferson noted that there are current under-investments in town. McAllister cited accounting software and Highway equipment among others.

Halifax ARPA Applicants (September 19, 2023)

A discussion ensued about the amounts requested by various community organizations. Specifically it was noted that the following organizations had requested these amounts:

  • Historical Society: $32,350 for roof and painting – note that a $7,000 grant was subsequently received
  • Halifax Community Club: $65,000 for a well ($15,000), solar panels ($24,180) and battery backups $(25,397)
  • Halifax Fire Co: $100,600 for comms equipment ($75,000), a washing machine ($10,000) and air bottles ($15,600)

McAllister proposed that we use part of the remaining ARPA funding to award each of these community organizations $15,000 in recognition of their need for improved critical infrastructure, their long engagement with the process, and their contributions to the community, while spending the balance to make a larger investment in a big-ticket item such as improved accounting software, Fire Dept. communications or Highway Department equipment.

McAllister noted that the numbers on the board are more than what we have available.

Edwards noted her concern for administrative management of small grants and her preference for fewer, larger chunks. Dow noted that the Historical Society is in dire need of a new roof while other requests are not as dire. Silverberg stated his view that the Historical Society need to do the whole envelope, and that the Fire Department air bottles were also dire.

Silverberg further noted that the Fire Department requests were a safety concern.

Christofferson asked if the new Historical Society windows had been installed?  Musiak noted that not all have been installed.

McAllister again suggested that $15k be allocated to each group with $80k left to make a big dent in a big ticket item.

Roberts requested more specifics on the project costs for the items noted in the Halifax Project List previously distributed. A discussion ensued.

Roberts suggested leaving the Town Garage roof off the ARPA list. Karen and Patty discussed the need for a new accounting system, McAllister note NEMRC modules altogether cost $24,000 plus training. Silverberg noted he is not sure NEMRC is the best system. Roberts suggested this is more of an operational cost. Christofferson concurred.

A discussion ensued regarding the Town’s communication strategy.  Specifically an upgraded Town website that can be more easily administered and that could accommodate cash transactions such as Dog Licenses. Roberts noted that we needed a champion for this project. Edwards and Roberts suggested the website upgrade and incident response could be put off for later.

McAllister noted the pressing needs of the Highway Department.  A discussion ensued. Edwards noted that adding staff is a difficult conversation and not an ARPA item. Christofferson noted we will need a new excavator soon costing $250k-$300k. Roberts noted ARPA funds could be used for a downpayment. Silverberg noted that the Highway Commissioner  mentioned  a small backhoe can extend the life of an excavator significantly and would fit within the remining ARPA budget.  A discussion ensued regarding the cost and lifespan of a used small backhoe as circa $50k to $75k.  Christofferson provided the historical principal and interest costs for vehicle financing from 2023 ($94k) to 2025 ($136k) and the impact of high interest rates.

Roberts made a motion to allocate $15,000 to the Halifax Community Club, $15,600 to the Halifax Fire Co. and $15,000 to the Halifax Historical Society, for critical infrastructure improvements, with the balance of the ARPA funds estimated at $90,456.46 for the Town Highway Department Equipment upgrading. Seconded by Edwards. Motion passed unanimously 5-0.

Roberts will notify the grantees with the stipulation that they must accept the award by 15 February and expend the funds by December 2025 and report same to the Selectboard.

Christofferson reminded the Selectboard that all materials for the Town Meeting book must be submitted by January 26 and that the book must be delivered to Minuteman Printers by 5 February.

Dow reminded the Selectboard that the last day to Warn the Town Meeting is 4 February and the warning must contain the Raise and Appropriate amount.

Dow further reminded the Selectboard that petitions to run again for the Selectboard are due by January 29th.

Edwards will contact the Tree Warden regarding funding for next year. Silverberg noted that he discussed with the Forester that the Emerald Ash Borer may not be as significant a problem in this area as initially feared because there are competing organisms that may be mitigating the problem.

Next special Selectboard meeting will be 23 January at 6:00 PM




Roberts moved we adjourn at 11:55am. Silverberg seconded. The motion carried unanimously 5-0.

Respectfully submitted,

Patrick McAllister, secretary pro tempore

Meeting recording: