Town of Halifax, Vermont


September 4, 2012

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 PM at the town office.  Board members in attendance were Lewis Sumner Edee Edwards, and Earl Holtz. Others in attendance were Jessica Bruno, Joe Tamburrino, Margo Avakian, Ray Combs, Phyllis Evanuk, Greg Marguet, Christina Moore, Matt Belden, Ed Dubois, Cara Cheyette, and Mike Renaud.

Approval of Minutes

Edwards moved to accept the minutes of the August 13, 2012 special meeting with a small correction. Sumner seconded the motion.
The motion carried 3-0-0, and the minutes were approved.

Sumner moved to accept the minutes of the August 21, 2012 regular meeting as written. Holtz seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0-1 (Edwards abstained), and the minutes were approved.

Sumner moved to accept the minutes of the August 24, 2012 special meeting as written. Holtz seconded the motion.
The motion carried 2-0-1 (Edwards abstained), and the minutes were approved.

New Business

Bids for Snow Plow for One Ton Truck

Auto Mall- Brattleboro, VT- $3389.00
Briggs- Jacksonville, VT- $3,650.00

Tamburrino will meet with Brad Rafus to make sure that the quotes cover what he is looking for.

Edwards made a motion to accept the Auto Mall (Brattleboro, VT) bid of $3,389.00 for the snow plow for the one ton truck assuming there are no problems with the road commissioner. Sumner seconded the motion which carried 3-0-0.

It was noted that if the bid does not meet the specifications Rafus was looking for, then Rafus will need to explain the difference so that we may better prepare bid packages in the future.

Bids for Deer Park Bridge Replacement

T Buck Construction, Auburn, ME- $507,140.00
Zaluzny Excavating, Vernon, VT- $590,857.50
NE Infrastructure, Inc., Hudson, MA- $745,325.75
Cold River Bridge, Walpole, NH- $462,526.55
Renaud Brothers, Vernon, VT- $516,779.00
Neil H Daniels, Ascutney, VT- $584, 425.50

Tamburrino will submit copies of the bid packages to SVE to review so that they can make their recommendation.

Tropical Storm Irene Recovery Projects

Sumner reported that the contractor is pouring the second abutment on the Reed Hill Bridge.

Sumner reported that he and Joe Tamburrino met with Drew Adam. River debris clean-up will start Monday at the latest depending on the weather. The contract has one other job to finish up.

Edwards inquired whether we had received the differential cost estimates from SVE yet. Moore replied that no, we have not. SVE needs to provide that cost matrix in order to get the project funded and approved. Moore explained the complexity due to the fact that FEMA will only replace the existing bridge (49 ft, wooden deck, one lane), while ANR has separate permitting standards which would extend the bridge another 7 feet. The town may be responsible for this additional 7 feet. The Selectboard also followed SVE’s recommendation to design and put out to bid for a concrete deck. The town will bear the cost for this upgrade. The cost differentials must be clearly and carefully documented so that the town gets their proper reimbursement. Tamburrino added that this cost matrix as prepared by SVE will cost the town money to get it done. Moore replied that the town can get reimbursement for that cost.

Moore reported that the Weir Road Bridge has been approved and payment has been received.

Moore reported that FEMA has left the State. The infrastructure for supporting projects is now being built by the State. All document processing and approvals now go through the State of VT.

Edwards inquired whether there is a closeout process timeframe. Moore replied that projects have to be done by 3/1/13 (with exceptions). Completed projects are in pretty good shape for closeout. We are waiting for Lane paving to correct their invoice and break out the cost by project so that Moore can complete 3 or 4 additional jobs. Sumner added that Rafus has talked to them several times about getting a corrected invoice.

Edwards shared a notice from the VT Department of Environmental Conservation which explains the uniform policy adopted 4/2011 to replace structurally deficient bridges. These guidelines were put in place to build better bridges for the State.

Holtz inquired whether we had the final easement for the rip rap on the Reed Hill bridge project. Sumner replied that no, we did not, but Bob Fisher contacted the landowner several times. The landowner expressed that they wanted assurance that there was a deadline. The assurance was given, but the documents have not been received. The group had a short discussion about eminent domain.

Sumner reported that they had met with FEMA regarding the national flood insurance program. FEMA does not have the final say as to whether Halifax will be accepted into the program, Washington DC will make the final determination. The FEMA representative indicated that we may be accepted as we have everything in order. Edwards added that we have people that can follow up with homeowners to let them know where they can get flood insurance.

Hearing of Visitors

Moore thanked the Selectboard for hiring the VT State police for the bike race. There were two injuries in Halifax, but the police and fire chief were very close by to provide assistance. There were at least 4 total injuries and one was transported by helicopter.

Moore has communicated with the organizers of the event asking them to meet next Summer and provide the town with a true event plan. There are real concerns with over 1000 bikes that there has not been proper planning, signage, or police coverage to protect the cyclists and the drivers. Moore also reported that both police officers had received thank you’s from both the cyclists and the drivers.

Ray Combs expressed that the recycling bins have piles of trash build up around them. He inquired who is responsible for taking care of that. Holtz replied that he had talked to someone about why the recycling is not being handled properly. Edwards added that she was there yesterday, and it is clean now. There are also signs posted that there are fines for leaving trash. Sumner added that anyone can call the phone number on the bins and let the company know they need to do a pickup. Edwards would like to see a document that says how often they pick up here so that if the on call arrangement isn’t working, perhaps we can get a scheduled pickup. She also noted that we have an appointed position for recycling coordinator, but perhaps we have not been clear as to what their role and responsibilities are. It was also noted that in addition to the trash, some people leave bags of cans outside the bins and they leave boxes which are not broken down. Cheyette added that in Wilmington, they have a bin with a skinny port for the boxes which is a good reminder to break them down.

Cara Cheyette thanked the Selectboard for the dead-end signs.

Cheyette asked the Selectboard what the policy is for paying for culverts on class 4 roads. As she has indicated at prior meetings, she and Mike Drummey paid to re-set a culvert that needed repair after Irene. She indicated that Readsboro’s policy is to maintain culverts and bridges on class 4 roads.  She would like to know what the policy is and what it means for past expenses and for going forward. Tamburrino noted that she may want to ask Brad Rafus. Holtz added that the VLCT does imply that we are supposed to be responsible for class 4 culverts. He inquired whether it was replaced with a culvert that meets ANR codes and standards. Edwards also added that when this issue was discussed in a prior meeting (that she was not present for), there was a question of where the liability falls when a landowner fixes it, but it is not up to specifications. We realize that we were in a crisis situation, but in general landowners should work with the road commissioner and not do the work themselves. Holtz advised Cheyette to talk with Brad Rafus and gather the expenses that they are looking for reimbursement for, then present something in writing.

Len Derby has been asked by several landowners to watch their properties while they are out of town. In the past he has parked at the schoolhouse to establish a presence. He asked if he should continue to do that. Edwards expressed that with the new regulations, she is concerned that that’s not part of his responsibility as constable. Her suggestion would be to say that I have limited function by state statute, so I can’t do that. Cheyette inquired whether we have a police log and if we have break-ins. The group discussed break-ins in the area.

Evanuk expressed that the Planning Commission would like permission to speak with Bob Fisher on a legal matter that is coming up so they know how to approach the situation at the hearing. The matter has to do with a subdivision and the need for a survey. Evanuk said the Planning Commission needs legal advice regarding statute 24VSA4463 parts A&B. Edwards agreed that the attorney should be involved to provide clarity as several town divisions are involved.

Tamburrino asked the Selectboard to accept his resignation as purchasing agent effective October 1, 2012. Tamburrino expressed that it was a pleasure to serve the town. Most procurement has been completed. He indicated that he is happy to go over all of the files and records and they are free to call him with questions. He also said thank you for letting me serve the town and indicated that the Selectboard could handle future purchases themselves. The Selectboard thanked Tamburrino for all his great work.

Edwards expressed that she is realizing after Irene how much time and effort the role of Selectboard member is. Does the town need an administrative assistant or a 5 member Selectboard? She realizes that this has been an extraordinary situation, but it is a lot of work for three people in a very part-time capacity. Tamburrino believes that they should go to a 5 person Selectboard. He expressed that they did a great job and he knows it took a lot of time out of their lives. Edwards added that Readsboro added an administrator position. Tamburrino added that an administrator would be expensive whereas two more Selectboard members would not be as costly. You can also be more open and talk to one another beforehand without a quorum. This way two members can work on a topic together and come to meetings better prepared. Avakian expressed that many people she has spoken with are in favor of a five member Selectboard. Combs asked what the administrator would do. Edwards replied that they would have to define the position, but they could explore health insurance options, do some number crunching for the road crew hours etc. Cheyette added that they can also prepare employee manuals, do grant writing, or help with FEMA reimbursements. They are a go-to person for any of the Selectboard members. Cheyette asked how much time they commit. Edwards replied that it is approximately 5-10 hours a week at various times. Edwards added that whichever option they choose, it will have to go to the voters at town meeting. Sumner added that you can have a vote for three people for a three year term and two people for a two year term (and stagger the years), or you can add two people with a one year term and vote every year. Edwards is willing to follow up with the technical process of warning the article, etc. If we get positive feedback, we can pursue one of the options.

Edwards next brought up the resolution for the municipal planning grant. Edwards is the municipal authorizing official and Phyllis Evanuk is the grant administrator.

Edwards made a motion to sign the resolution for the FY2013 Planning Commission grant. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Edwards added that having the guidance of people who work on town plans will be beneficial for the town.

Old Business

Other Business


Bruno was asked to prepare a letter to Richard Reavy in response to his letter concerning signs on Old Stage Road. It has been determined that those signs are posted on a private logging road not a class 4 road.

Bruno was also asked to prepare letters for the constables, inviting them to the next Selectboard meeting, to discuss their duties as well as to discuss the prior and current budgets. Edwards inquired whether we need two constables as it is a lot of work to get trained and certified. Holtz will ask Dow for a report of the constable budget expenditures for last year.

Highway reports were reviewed. They need to clarify how the form should be filled out to include dollars and hours on the ‘Highway Order’ form. Edwards will look at the Excel based software she has for entering hours by job or task.

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 9:53 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Jessica Bruno

Selectboard Secretary