Town of Halifax, Vermont

March 14, 2013

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30pm at the Halifax town office.  Halifax Board members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Earl Holtz, and Lewis Sumner. Members of the public present were Jessica Bruno, Brad Rafus, Peggy Webber, Chris Mays, Justin Berry and Ross Barnett.

New Business

Reorganization of the Selectboard

Holtz made a motion to nominate Edee Edwards as Chairman of the Selectboard. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1 (Edwards abstained).

Edwards made a motion to nominate Lewis Sumner as Vice-Chairman of the Selectboard. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 2-0-1 (Sumner abstained).

Posting of Road Weight Limits for Mud Season

Sumner made a motion to post the road weight limits for mud season as usual using the State forms. Edwards seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Process for Paid Appointments

Edwards reported that last year the Selectboard did extensive interviewing for two of the paid positions. This year, we posted the positions on the website and around town and asked people to send a letter of interest and resume. The Selectboard may need to schedule a few time slots to discuss the appointments with interested parties. The Selectboard will also talk to appointed parties to see what worked well (or not) and do an informal assessment. The Board discussed whether they needed to do committees for appointments this year, and it was agreed by all three members that it was not necessary this year. The Selectboard will interview new candidates.


Edwards inquired whether the special town meeting warning was signed (involving ratification of the annual town meeting) and Sumner confirmed that it was all set.

Edwards inquired what the deadline is for the Broadband Grant and Holtz confirmed it is 3/15/13.

Edwards asked the Selectboard members to review the energy audit contract so that it can be put on the agenda for 3/19/13.

The Selectboard discussed the upcoming meeting with the Whitingham Selectboard, WASI, DVR, and Whitingham Fireman’s Assoc. They discussed whether bringing in a facilitator/moderator might be useful in order to bring everyone together to come to a group decision while allowing all parties views to be heard. The Selectboard will discuss on 3/19. Possible moderators include Cara Cheyette, WRC, or Allison Turner.

Edwards made a motion to go into executive session at 6:55pm to do the annual reviews of paid appointees. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.
Rafus, Bruno, Berry, and Sumner were invited in turn into executive session.

At 9:14 PM, the Selectboard returned from executive session.  Edwards noted that no decisions were made.  Earl Holtz, Edee Edwards, and Lewis Sumner were present.

Old Business

Letter to Owners of Unlicensed Dogs

Edwards had updated a letter written and discussed briefly last October to encourage owners of unlicensed dogs to follow through in getting vaccinations and licenses.  The updated letter includes information about the upcoming Rabies clinic on Saturday, March 23, 2013 in Halifax.  Patty Dow had completed the letter by filling in the intended owners’ names and addresses.  Dow had recommended sending the letters certified, but the board decided that was not necessary at this time.

Holtz made a motion to adopt the letter as written, and sign and send out the letters to appropriate parties.  Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

The letters were signed and left for Patty Dow to mail.

Hearing of Visitors

No visitors were present

Other Business

FEMA Reimbursement
Christina Moore of Storm Petrel had asked the board to address an issue with documentation that FEMA stated was inadequate.  Some of the early administrative costs from Joe Tamburrino (purchasing agent) and others were not coded to individual projects in the early days after Irene.  FEMA cannot accept the timesheets, which break these costs down by a percentage of time, rather than individual hours noted at specific dates and times.  Christina’s recommendation is that base administrative costs of 3% allowed in small projects would more than cover the work performed on large projects, so she felt the town should not pursue changing the timesheets from 2011.

Sumner made a motion to drop pursing this money because he felt we would recoup the costs elsewhere.  Holtz seconded the motion.    

Edwards noted that she had emailed a question about how much cost would be involved from Storm Petrel if we were able to get the timesheets updated and rescanned, but no answer had been received by the time of this meeting.  The amount in question is approximately $8600, but the small projects reimbursement for similar work was $15,000.  Holtz noted that we should take this as a lesson learned regarding documentation for future.  The problem is that ordering equipment or materials for multiple projects is hard to break out when the projects haven’t been labeled beyond “fix all the roads.”  In some cases with many projects, not everything can be captured.

The motion passed 3-0 to direct Christina Moore not to pursue the additional documentation for timecards or funding for these specific administrative costs, as she recommended. 

Vermont Digital Economy Project Grant

Holtz noted that the Broadband Committee last night had discussed a grant opportunity to help cover costs especially for Irene-damaged towns to improve communications using the Internet.  Specific parts include a downtown Wi-Fi zone and hotspot; improving the town website; 1:1 assistance for farm and forest use of the Internet; workshop and consultations for small businesses.  Various people were tapped as project leads.

Edwards made a motion to apply for the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Vermont Digital Economy Project grant. Holtz seconded it.  

Discussion about the timeline and Open Meeting Law was held.  Given a deadline or time-critical stuff, each Selectboard member should feel free to either call a special meeting or ensure these things are added to the agenda.  How or even IF each Selectboard member can give individual out-of-meeting input to committee members (such as for the Town Plan), or for legislative action is a question that Selectboard Institute may help answer.  By being on this board, do we not have a right to talk to our state legislators?

The motion to apply for the VDEP grant passed 3-0.

Garage Energy Audit

The board decided to save the contract paperwork for next week, but try to reserve the date.

Agenda items for Tuesday’s regular meeting:

WASI Joint Meeting and Facilitation
Highway Codes and Standards
Town Truck Ride-Along Policy
Internet Service at the Town Office
Appointed positions

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Jessica Bruno, Selectboard Secretary

Edee Edwards, Selectboard Vice Chair