TOWN OF HALIFAX, VERMONT
SELECTBOARD MEETING MINUTES
SEPTEMBER 8, 2021
CALL TO ORDER:
Sumner called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM. Selectboard members present were, Lewis Sumner, Bradley Rafus, Tristan Roberts, Cara Cheyette, Peter Silverberg. Others in attendance in person or remotely were Andy Rice, David Jones, Earl Holtz, Alison Crossley, Edee Edwards, Greg Wilson, Robert Leete, Peggy Rafus, Mike Fournier, Kaitlin Stone, Stephan Chait.
CHANGES OR ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:
Cheyette proposed moving Old Business to the start of the meeting.
Rafus requested an executive session for a personnel matter.
APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES:
Sumner moved to approve the August 19, 2021 minutes as submitted, and Rafus seconded. Cheyette proposed amendments to the minutes as shared via tracked changes on the document. Roberts seconded the proposed amendment.
Sumner and Rafus vote to accept the minutes as written; Silverberg abstains; Cheyette and Roberts voted nay. No further action was taken.
Post Office location
Postmaster Tyson Dix spoke to the meeting. The West Halifax post office came close to closing in May, with window service and boxes being moved to Jacksonville, where Dix works from. An 18-month lease extension was signed in May. Dix did not have any information on the reasons for the impending close of the post office, or the reasons for its extension, or the amount of the lease. Dix said that ideas had been floated for finding a new home for a post office. There is a real estate specialist within the USPS. Dix requested names and details to be shared with him and that he would pass them on. He stated that there was a danger that if the post office closed it would not come back, whereas he said the USPS is not closing offices if there are facilities available.
Edwards asked about delivery and confusion around her correct address. Dix said he could check into specific delivery issues for a resident in the USPS database and offered to follow up.
Rafus asked if a bank of mailboxes would be an option. Dix said that it would be an option but window service would be lost. Roberts asked about the town garage as a site. Kaitlin Stone asked about the old town garage site. Dix said it should be discussed with the real estate specialists at the post office.
Roberts made a motion that the town appoint a liaison to the post office real estate specialist to begin discussions. The motion was not seconded. Tyson said he could get basic information on square footage requirements. Silverberg volunteered to get more information from the USPS. Sumner suggested he gather additional volunteers to join in this effort. Silverberg agreed.
Rules of Procedure
Cheyette reviewed the proposed rules of procedure. She noted that the Board has not adopted rules of procedure before. The rules come from VCLT as a template. Cheyette reviewed selections that she proposed based on typical practice of the Board and gave rationales for the selections.
Cheyette moved and Roberts seconded to accept the rules of procedure as distributed by Cheyette, with three items struck. Approved 5-0. Final copy will be signed at the next meeting.
Silverberg noted that ARPA funding was coming in and that there are rules for spending it in ways affected by COVID. Silverberg suggested the board get ideas from the public. Several ideas were mentioned, including:
– Outdoor learning
– Outdoor meeting facility
– Broadband infrastructure and affordability
– Aid to people disproportionately affected by COVID
Silverberg to spearhead putting the word out. Residents are invited to contact the Selectboard with suggestions.
Interviews for assistant and highway position to be included on the agenda for Sept. 21st. Meeting will start early with an executive session. Cheyette suggested combining the two positions into one, cutting the salary by $2,000, and asking the individual to keep track of how their time is allocated. Roberts agreed with combining the positions and suggested cutting the combined salary by 10% due to efficiencies. Roberts volunteered to combine the job descriptions. The salary was discussed but no decision was made to change it.
Cheyette spoke about interim coverage and the need for support. Silverberg volunteered to prepare the Treasurer’s order. Roberts volunteered to post minutes, etc., on the website, and to take meeting minutes. Cheyette volunteered to review emails.
Agenda – order of business
Cheyette asked to skip this agenda item.
Budget planning procedure
Rafus said that there was a question of how much detail was required for budgeting. Discussion ensued, with a preference stated by board members for more detail.
Roberts suggested an open house for the highway department. Members of the public would be invited to see what the equipment is, what it takes to maintain the roads, and what it costs. Sumner said that when residents understood better what it takes to maintain roads, they have more confidence in how their tax money is spent.
FY 2022 Grant Funding for Municipal Highway and Stormwater Mitigation
Sumner said there is no damage, so we do not qualify for funds.
Robert Leete driveway/water concern
Leete said he lives on Macmillan Road and the road has not been in serviceable condition since winter. He said that the water is coming down his driveway and destroying it. The town fixed the road last year. He asked the town to fix the road and fix his driveway. Rafus said that a culvert was put in for a person on the road and the town also did some ditch work and added a crown for Act 64. Leete said the road can be pitched away from the driveway. Wilson questioned the grade of gravel on Macmillan Road.
Cheyette asked if the town should consider looking at a private resident’s road if it was harmed by action taken by the town. Fournier said that if you fix one person’s driveway, you have to fix everyone’s driveway. Roberts asked Rafus the cost of paving roads. Rafus said it would cost $180,000 per mile with about 75% more on top of that for prep work. Leete asked that nothing be done until he has a civil engineer look at it. Additional discussion ensued. No action was taken.
Minutes – detailed vs what is legally required
Cheyette discussed pros and cons of detailed vs. more minimal, legally required minutes. Silverberg read a paragraph from VLCT about what is required for minutes. Roberts said that while there are benefits to a highly detailed transcript-like set of minutes, doing so to even a small degree can leave out certain viewpoints and be too vague about them, which was tricky. He said he would prefer more minimal minutes. Sumner agreed. There was no further discussion.
Remote meeting technology needs
Cheyette said that we are hobbling along with remote meeting equipment, and that new equipment might be needed. Silverberg said that remote equipment falls within ARPA guidelines. There was no further discussion.
Rescue Inc. request for attendees
Annual meeting is on Sept. 16th. Sumner volunteered to go.
Semi-Annual Water Quality Testing for the Halifax Landfill: which wells
Rafus recused himself. Discussion ensued about various wells on properties abutting the town landfill, when they had been tested, health concerns from residents, and whether they should be tested at town expense.
Roberts moved to include the town garage and the Phelans’ well in the fall testing, with the Rafus well already decided to be tested. Motion passed 4-0.
Wineburg land donation
Wineburg donated 0.26 acres to the W. Halifax cemetery. Sumner moved, Silverberg seconded to accept the Wineburg donation and that it would not be developed with buildings per current use. Motion passed 5-0.
A letter from Allie Corey appreciating the entire road crew, and specifically Keith Stone, for their hard work and commitment, was read.
Hearing of Visitors
Chait reported that a composting workshop would be held Saturday, September 18, 2-3:30 pm Rain Date – Saturday, September 25, 2-3:30 pm, at the Community Hall.
Edwards asked if a broadband committee meeting was scheduled. Roberts stated that the schedule was on the website and a September meeting is coming up. Edwards commented that the town garage was not a good venue for meeting.
Wilson asked if a construction job was planned for Macmillan Road. Rafus said that normal maintenance would occur. He said a larger project was planned for Pennel Hill.
Roberts moved to enter executive session, seconded by Silverberg.
Executive session ended with no decisions made.
A resignation letter was received by the Selectboard from Rafus for all his positions: Selectboard, Road Foreman, and Road Commissioner.
Roberts moved and Silverberg seconded a motion to accept Rafus’s resignation with appreciation for his service. The motion carried 4-0, with Rafus abstaining.
Silverberg moved to adjourn and Sumner seconded. The motion carried 5-0 at 9:30 p.m.
For the Selectboard