OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
August 25, 2014
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 8:05 a.m. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner, Edee Edwards, and Earl Holtz were present. Also in attendance were Robbin Gabriel, Brad Rafus, and Margo Avakian.
Changes and/or Additions to Agenda
Edee Edwards asked that the VTel lease item be removed from the agenda; the Board is still waiting to receive the finalized document. She also requested that the bid policy review be moved forward to the Tuesday, September 2nd meeting. Edwards made a motion to postpone the signing of the VTel lease agreement and review of the bid policy. Earl Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
A note: Due to some confusion about the express purpose of the second item on the agenda, “Presentation by Brad Rafus, Road Commissioner,” it was agreed this item would be addressed under Hearing of Visitors.
Sign Road Commissioner’s Orders
The Road Commissioner’s orders were reviewed and signed. Edwards noted this week’s orders included payment of the annual $34,000 lease on the grader.
Approval of Salt Contract
Brad Rafus remarked that cost of salt has risen considerably. Last year the town paid $68 a ton, this year’s rate is $82 a ton, a 22% increase. Some other districts are seeing a 40% increase; Sumner said that Whitingham, in District #1, is paying $90 a ton. Cargill is our only option as a supplier, said Rafus, as no one else bid to provide salt to the towns. Edwards made a motion to accept Cargill’s salt bid at $82.65 per ton. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Discussion of Truck Leasing Options and Ordering One Ton Truck
Rafus presented the results of his research on the Gateway Motors and Delurey Sales bids, opened August 11th, and, after consideration, the Board chose a truck available on the lot at Gateway. Ford is offering a loan at 5.95% interest, but Patty Dow has found a lesser rate available through TD Bank. Edwards made a motion to accept Gateway Motors’ bid for a 2014 one-ton truck at $42,522.40, equipped by HP Fairfield for an additional $36,990 (total $79,512.40), with TD Bank 5-year tax-exempt financing at 3%. Holtz seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Discussion of Applications for the Selectboard Administrative Assistant
As the hiring of an administrative assistant is tied to the need for additional Monday morning Selectboard meetings, the Board elected to discuss this topic before looking at their meeting schedule. Three dates, August 28th, September 4th, and September 5th, were designated as possible interview dates. Board members will make arrangements to meet with applicants they wish to interview.
Discussion of Future Monday Selectboard Meetings
Edwards made a motion to hold a Selectboard meeting on September 8th, 2014. Sumner seconded the motion, which passed, 3-0.
Discussion of Blacktopping Old County Road and Green River Road
Rafus has one estimate–$10,600 from Vermont Roadworks—to pave the Old County Road North section between Green River Road and the new bridge. Price for the patch on Green River Road just above the Deer Park intersection is $2,855. Although he has requested a bid from DMI, the company hired to pave bridge #37, Rafus has not heard from them yet. Edwards and Holtz both expressed reluctance to incur the additional expense of blacktopping the small Old County Road North section. Holtz proposed revisiting this subject in a year, when we expect Lane to be in town repaving the deficient portions of Green River Road. Rafus said the culvert repair section above Deer Park bridge must be paved. It was agreed to postpone a final decision for another week, in hopes of receiving a second quote from DMI. This item will appear on the September 2nd agenda.
Hearing of Visitors
Act 250/Denison Quarry Truck Route
Rafus asked the Board to clarify what information they would like him to provide regarding the TH52 portion of the proposed truck route. Thus far, he has measured the road (1,530 feet, less than 3/10 of a mile), noted culverts and ditches in need of cleaning, and calculated materials required to lay top-coat gravel to make the road passable for passenger cars. Holtz asked, “Why a car?” Edwards summarized a previous meeting’s discussion about assuring accessibility for EMS should there be an accident at the quarry. Rafus mentioned the danger of setting a precedent should the town choose to upgrade a Class IV road, while Holtz felt responsibility for improved access to the proposed project should fall to the applicant, not the town. Margo Avakian, recalling Edwards had said the town might have a moral obligation in this matter, told the meeting several citizens were of the opinion that maintaining one Class IV road but not others would in fact be immoral. The discussion concluded with a decision to present this issue as a concern at the Act 250 hearing. Sumner said that emergency services and fire departments often called in four-wheelers or snowmobiles when they were needed to access a particular site. It was noted that Halifax EMS, Halifax Fire Department, and Deerfield Valley Rescue have all requested party status in the Act 250 process.
Moving on to consider those roads which the town does presently maintain, and which will be part of the quarry truck route, Edwards mentioned road width, gradient, and road signs. Rafus has been attempting, with no success to date, to gather information on the steepest Stark Mountain Road inclines. Edwards also wondered whether one-way travel conditions for the trucks might alleviate danger, or limiting hours of truck travel, while Holtz suggested turn-outs. Rafus said the left side of the road, going up, cannot be widened because of the brook, while there is ledge on the opposite of the road. A fresh layer of gravel on the roadbed from the bridge down would help. Cutting trees would necessitate the addition of guard rails and constructing armored banks to prevent erosion. Holtz said the the town could present the issue, but not a solution, to the Environmental Commission. Edwards asked Rafus to compile data on signage, grade percentages, how many feet of guardrail might be needed, and where pullouts could be constructed.
Edwards presented some calculations using total projected schist output data from the quarry application and information from an Alaskan traffic impact study. She speculated that, if the quarry were to achieve their output goal, the number of truck trips per day could be more than stated in the Act 250 application. She would like to know how that would translate in terms of greater town road maintenance costs. Sumner pointed out a number of traffic studies the Board has seen pertained to travel on blacktopped, rather than gravel roads.
Rafus reminded the board that bids for the salt shed would be available to open at the Tuesday, September 2nd meeting. Four local builders have been notified of the bid solitication and three have come to view the site.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:38 a.m.