Town of Halifax, Vermont



May 3, 2011

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.  Board members in attendance were John LaFlamme, Lewis Sumner, and Edee Edwards.  Others in attendance were Peggy Webber, Bradley Rafus, Charlene Martynowski, Mitchell Green, Margo Avakian, Rick Gay, Earl Holtz, Pat Holtz, Orrin Isles, and Board Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.

Mr. LaFlamme stated the rules of procedure and conduct for the meeting. He advised that anyone who wishes to speak should wait until recognized by the Chair.  All comments and questions should be addressed to the Chair.  Any outbursts or rude comments will be out of order.  Speaking directly to other visitors will be out of order. A person who is out of order will first be warned by the Chair.  If there is a second instance the person will be asked to leave the meeting.  He advised that only items on the agenda are open for discussion and that anyone wishing to discuss a topic should request that it be put on the agenda.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Sumner moved to accept the minutes of the April 19, 2011 meeting as written.

            Ms. Edwards seconded the motion.

The motion carried 3-0, and the minutes were approved.

New Business

  1. Problems with Grader

Mr. Rafus advised that they’ve lost the clutch pack in the transmission for the third time.  The transmission was replaced in 2009 and they’ve put only 1400 hours on it in the past two years.  He advised that it is currently at Milton Cat and they have done an assessment.  They have sent a “loaner” for the Town to use and now he is waiting to hear what Cat will do for the Town.  He further advised that the monthly rental fee is $4000.00 per the sales representative, but that might be waived.  Mr. Rafus advised that he told them that as this is the third time the exact same problem has come up that there must be something that they are missing.

Mr. LaFlamme asked if there was an estimate of the repair costs.  Mr. Rafus advised that the last time it cost just under $14,000.00.

Mr. Gay asked how many hours this equipment is supposed to last.  Mr. Rafus advised that the recommendation is 10,000 hours on a rebuild, so they should not have had to do anything to the transmission as the total hours on the machine is 9,800.

Ms. Edwards advised that there is a state surplus auction on Saturday, May 7th and she asked if they had considered that.  She stated that she has no idea what they have but thought she should mention it as an option.

Mr. Isles advised that as far as buying surplus, you would be buying someone else’s problem. He urged caution in considering this as an option.

Mr. LaFlamme advised that until they know what Cat is proposing to do for them, they shouldn’t make any commitments regarding the grader.

Mr. Rafus advised that Keith Stone, who has been involved on all three occasions, thinks that there has got to be something faulty, possibly inside the transmission casing.  They should probably replace the entire transmission and casing.  All that they have been doing is pulling and rebuilding the transmission and using the same casing.  Cat says that there is contamination “water in the oil”.  When it happened in 2001 they blamed it on the fact that it was stored in the old grader shed which was outside, not climate controlled.  The last two times it has been stored in the new garage.  He also advised the Cat technician that the grader had been serviced two weeks before this last incident and the oil and oil filters were changed.  When the technician was at the garage he pulled an oil sample and while he didn’t have testing equipment with him, he did advise that it looked fine to him.  Then when they tested it at Cat they claimed there was water contamination.

Mr. Sumner advised that they really need to wait until they have more information from Cat before they make any plans or decisions.  If they receive information before the next regular meeting they could call a special meeting to consider the situation.

It will stay as a New Business item on the agenda until it is resolved.

  1. Ethics, conflict of interest policy

The Board began reviewing the VLCT Model policy.  Ms. Edwards advised that she had some particular points and suggestions for Article 7. Enforcement.  “A. The chair shall meet informally, in private, with the public officer to discuss possible conflict of interest violation.”  She advised that as they are a three member Board, the question of following the open meeting law arises when a Board member might be the one in violation.  To remedy this she suggested that if it involves a member of the board then something should be added in to skip A and proceed to “B. The board may meet to discuss the conduct of the public officer.  Executive session may be used for such discussion.”

Mr. Holtz suggested that in order to solve the problem if it is with a member of the Board, they should have another body such as the Board of Civil Authority hear the complaint and rule on it.

Mr. Green suggested that there would be legal issues with that solution.

Mr. Sumner advised that this model document has been written and reviewed by attorneys and when they have a good draft of what they would like, they should have the town attorney review it for correctness.

A short discussion of the minor changes suggested followed. Ms. Edwards advised that with the noted changes she would feel comfortable signing the document.  It was agreed that Mr. LaFlamme would forward the draft to the town attorney and Ms. Evanuk would prepare a draft of the policy with the changes.

  1. Purchasing Policy

Mr. LaFlamme advised he had received a letter from Joseph Tamburrino volunteering his assistance in developing a purchasing policy.  His letter detailed his 36 years of experience.

Ms. Edwards noted that there are very good samples in the VLCT handbook as well.

The board chose 3 policy samples for review: 2 from VLCT and 1 from WSWMD.  They will review and then discuss further at a future meeting.  Once they compile a draft they will review again prior to signing.

  1. Listers request for account report


Charlene Martynowski advised she would like to know how much money is available in the Listers budget.  It is almost the end of the fiscal year and an account balance would be very helpful.  She advised they are looking into having a new tax map done but their hands are tied because they have no idea if the money is there or not.

Mr. LaFlamme asked Ms. Edwards if she had any information from the bookkeeper.  She advised that she doesn’t, but the bookkeeper is planning to come in on Saturday.  She further advised that she can make an estimate the amount but does not know the exact amount.  She suggested that the treasurer would have that information.  Mr. LaFlamme agreed that she probably did but that they have a bookkeeper and this is one of the duties in the bookkeeper job description.  Ms. Edwards agreed that it is.

Mr. LaFlamme advised Mrs. Martynowski that they would have to get back to her with the requested information.

Hearing of Visitors

Ø  Leonard Derby submitted bills to the Board.

Ø  Earl Holtz advised that he has received a DVD about the Asian long-horned beetle and he would like permission to show it on June 21st right before the Selectboard meeting. It was agreed to have the meeting from 6:00 to 7:00 PM.

Ø  Pat Holtz noted she was happy to see the meeting listed in the Deerfield Valley News.  It was also noted that the personnel listing on the website is not up to date.  Mr. LaFlamme advised the site is still being worked on.  It is a sometimes slow process.

Ø  Brad Rafus advised that he is working on bids for blacktop and would be set up to be opened at the first meeting in June.  He assumed they are still planning on doing the work they discussed last year.  He advised they have been informed by the state that they will not be receiving a grant this year.  He advised he has looked into the sealing material and if they go in halves with Whitingham and buy a full trailer load they will not be charged a delivery fee and the company provides the machine to apply it.  The cost is approximately $4000 per pallet, which will cover approximately one mile.

Mr. Rafus advised that a future agenda item needs to be relocation of the fuel tanks.

Ø  Ms. Edwards advised there will be a wellness meeting in Wilmington.  The information on the Wellness Program should be back on the agenda for the next time.

Old Business

Ø  Returned check policy

They have not received the review from the town attorney.

Ms. Edwards had some questions regarding wording in several sections.  She pointed them out and Mr. LaFlamme suggested that she should let Patty Dow know so that they can be reviewed by the town attorney.

Other Business



Ø  Mr. LaFlamme read the request from the Planning Commission for permission to consult with Attorney Robert Fisher regarding an upcoming subdivision public hearing.

Mr. LaFlamme moved to approve the planning commission consultation with Attorney Robert Fisher.

Mr. Sumner seconded the motion which carried 3-0.

Ø  The Vermont Department of Health requested a recommendation for the position of Town Health Officer, as the current appointment is expiring.

Mr. Sumner moved to recommend Susan M. Kelly be reappointed as Town Health Officer for a period of 3 years beginning June 1, 2011.

Ms. Edwards seconded the motion which carried 3-0. 

The mail was reviewed and appropriately filed.

Ms. Edwards requested that she would like to discuss upcoming agenda items at the end of each meeting and make it a regular part of the agenda.  She requested that she would like the following item on the next agenda: Fiber Connect Grant Support.  She would also like to have the following items put on a future agenda: Financial changes for next fiscal year to address the chart of accounts; payroll overtime category; and practices for signing highway orders.

Selectmen’s Order to Town Treasurer for bill payment

The order for payment of bills was completed and signed.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:52 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Phyllis H. Evanuk