TOWN OF HALIFAX, VERMONT
SELECTBOARD REGULAR MEETING MINUTES
OCTOBER 5, 2021
CALL TO ORDER:
Sumner called the meeting to order at 6:01 pm. Selectboard members present were, Lewis Sumner, Tristan Roberts, Pete Silverberg, Cara Cheyette (by phone). Others in attendance in person or remotely were Mike Fournier, Earl Holtz, Kaitlin Stone, Anna Duca, Ray Combs, David Jones, Linda Lyon, Kathy McLean, Robbin Gabriel, and Bob Leete.
CHANGES OR ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:
Sumner added treasurer’s order. Roberts added DVFiber Governing Board.
APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MEETING MINUTES:
Cheyette moved to accept September 21 regular minutes as written, and Silverberg seconded. The motion passed, 3-0 with Roberts abstaining.
Sumner moved and Silverberg seconded to accept September 21 regular minutes as written. The motion passed, 3-0, with Roberts abstaining.
Meeting violation complaint
Silverberg described an open meeting law violation complaint and his subsequent conversation with VLCT. He also spoke with Town attorney Robert Fisher about how to rectify the violation. The advice was to delete the recording of the Sept. 22 meeting, as it was warned as executive session only, and should not have been accessible to the public, then or after the fact via recording.
Silverberg moved to delete the recording of the Sept. 22 meeting, and Sumner seconded the motion.
Cheyette indicated that she had already disabled the recording link so that the recording would not be accessible pending Selectboard action, though it had not been deleted. Motion passed 3-0 with Roberts abstaining.
Cheyette moved to approve the hiring of Wade Janovsky as of Sept. 21, 2021, and Silverberg seconded. Motion passed 4-0.
Roberts indicated he would remove the recording link from the website, and Cheyette would delete the recording.
Cheyette asked about past practice in interviews for appointed and hired positions being conducted in Open Meeting, vs. executive session. Discussion ensued about pros and cons of interviews being conducted in public. Jones noted that appointing or evaluating a candidate for a position was a valid reason for executive session. Roberts noted that frank and personal discussion may be less possible for interviews done in public, and would be a disservice to the town and to candidates. In the discussion it was noted that appointments or hiring are made in open session, and that the Selectboard can publicly give reasons for the decision. The public can also add discussion at that time.
Roberts moved that we add an agenda item for Executive session for interviews, Silverberg seconded. Motion passed 4-0.
Sumner moved and Silverberg seconded that the board go into Executive session at 6:29 p.m. Motion passed 4-0.
Executive session ended at 7:21 p.m. with no decisions made.
Roberts moved and Silverberg seconded to hire Anna Duca as Secretary/Admin Assistant for a total of $16,000, with $13,000 from the budget for admin assistant and $3,000 for secretary. Board members gave reasons in support of hiring Duca, and discussion ensued. The motion passed 4-0. Duca accepted on the spot.
Roberts moved and Silverberg seconded to hire Mike Fournier as Road Crew/Supervisor at current compensation. Board members gave reasons in support of hiring Duca, and discussion ensued. Motion passed 4-0.
Roberts moved and Silverberg seconded to appoint Mike Fournier as Road Commissioner at current compensation. Discussion ensued. Cheyette indicated she would like to see this position be appointed to someone who isn’t also the Road Crew/Supervisor. Roberts said that is worth considering, but no other candidates have applied, and this is an immediate need. He noted the appointment is through March, and that the Commissioner, Supervisor, and Board should work in the meantime on the job descriptions, and better understanding the needs of the positions. Motion passed 4-0. Fournier accepted both positions on the spot.
Regional Emergency Management Committee (REMC) alternate. Cheyette moved and Silverberg seconded to table this position. Motion passed 4-0.
Sumner moved and Silverberg seconded to appoint Earl Holtz as Selectboard member. Discussion ensued. Motion passed 4-0.
Grants in Aid letter of intent
Letter of Intent to Participate in the Municipal Roads Grants-in-aid Program Equipment Purchase was discussed. It needs to be signed by October 8, 2021. Roberts moved and Silverberg seconded to sign the letter. Discussion ensued on how to pay for the town’s share, with ideas coming from the budget and from ARPA funding. As the letter is a preliminary step, no action was taken to allocate funds. Motion passed 4-0.
Road concerns – Fabio Carasi
Carasi was unable to attend and the item was passed over.
Sodom road concerns – Pam Baker
Baker was unable to attend and the item was passed over.
DV Fiber governing board
David Jones sent an email to the Selectboard tendering his resignation from the DV Fiber governing board as of Oct. 15, 2021, which is necessitated by him taking a contractor position with DV Fiber. Stephan Chait is currently one of two alternates appointed by the Selectboard (the other is Roberts). Jones recommended appointing Chait to fill the position on the governing board and said that Chait was agreeable.
Roberts moved and Silverberg seconded to accept David Jones’ resignation from the DV Fiber governing board, and to appoint Stephan Chait to take Halifax’s seat on the governing board. Motion passed 4-0.
ARPA funding ideas
Silverberg listed ideas that had come in on how to allocate ARPA funding.
Roberts provided more detail on broadband-related ideas. The list of items discussed is as follows:
- Pavilion for outdoor meetings
- Outdoor learning at elementary school/after school activities
- Broadband related:
- Conduit for low income
- Pay install for low income
- Subsidy for low income
- Put in conduit on roads where utilities are already buried
- Public wifi hot spots
- Match funded road equipment
- Heat fund
- Improve remote access for all boards and committees/hardware/software
- Improve Town Office furnishings etc. to improve distancing and communication
- Improve HVAC at the school
- ADA access to Town office
- Water cooler/fountain for town office
- Upgrade ventilation town office/school
- Local communications via electronic sign
- Digitize land records
- Transfer station/local trash disposal
- Outdoor mail slot for town office
- Energy Efficiency upgrades, HVAC, shades for town office
Cheyette moved to allocate between $2,500–$3,000 for remote meeting equipment and annual subscription. Silverberg seconded. Discussion ensued. Topics included the feasibility of managing the platform, and how to identify the equipment needed and install it. Cheyette said she didn’t think we need help running the equipment, and that help would be available from other towns to install it. Roberts asked about annual costs, and suggested that the motion should include installation labor cost if Cheyette thought it might be useful to hire a little help for that, as she suggested it might.
Cheyette said that zoom was $180/year and she preferred it to GoTo Meeting. There may be cost for hosting video online if we did that, but that there were free options such as YouTube, or uploading audio only to SoundCloud.
An amendment was made by Silverberg and seconded by Sumner to include installation costs in the proposed allocation, without changing the amount. The amendment passed 4-0.
The motion passed 4-0.
Rules of Procedure Adoption
Cheyette moved and Sumner seconded to adopt the amended rules of procedure. Cheyette noted an update she had made in printing the final copy. The update was in keeping with what had previously been discussed.
The motion passed 4-0.
Selectboard Order for payment
The order for payment was reviewed.
Fournier said that stone would need to be purchased for the Pennel Hill project and inquired about whether he needed approval for that. The Board indicated that he did not need specific approval for it.
Silverberg reported that he had talked to Tyson Dix several times about asked the post office real estate, and Dix had not gotten anywhere with talking to the real estate specialist in the USPS to get more information or to share the town’s interest. The following ideas have been suggested for post office location. However, the town does not have the USPS specifications for a suitable location, so this is a brainstorm only:
Red house on Brook Road
Blue house on Branch Road
Halifax Public School
Existing location, with Silverberg indicated he had spoken to the current landlord and it was “not a dead duck”
Old town garage
New town garage
Fournier asked to be put on each regular agenda to discuss Road Commissioner.
Cheyette suggested meeting at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Discussion ensued, with overall agreement. Roberts noted he would like to see discipline kept on meeting length, i.e. starting earlier should not mean we go later. It was agreed the next meeting would be at 6 p.m.
HEARING OF VISITORS
Bob Leete asked what the town’s response was to his email of Sept. 18, 2021. Discussion ensued. Holtz suggested a site inspection with two Selectboard members and Fournier. Silverberg and Holtz volunteered and a meeting was set for 9 a.m. on Oct. 13th at 918 Macmillan Road.
Sumner moved to adjourn; Silverberg seconded. Motion passed 4-0 at 8:55pm.
For the Selectboard