Selectboard tries time limits for each item
by Margo Avakia
May 23, 2013 | 2068 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- Selectboard chair Edee Edwards presented an agenda with suggested time limits for each item. The meeting moved swiftly, but with no controversial items up for discussion, the new system was not really tested.

Only one bid was received for the equipment/installation package for one of the town’s dump trucks. Highway supervisor Bradley Rafus approved the price quoted, $40,980, as fair, telling the board that it is a bit less than the town paid for the same package on its new truck. The board voted to award the job to the bidder, H. Fairfield.

The board of auditors was present to answer some questions for the selectboard. Edwards asked for clarification of “invoice acceptance,” tagged as a possible problem by the independent auditors who did the post-Irene project audit for the town. April Dupuis said that her interpretation of that term is that the person with authority to submit an invoice should initial it before sending it to the selectboard for payment. In this case, the invoices passed through the highway department first, and Rafus is the person whose initials should appear.

Dupuis also explained the difference between cash and modified accrual accounting; the town’s books are kept on a cash basis. Accrual accounting tracks projected revenues and expenditures, allowing a longer term view of finances. “Perhaps,” said Edwards, “we can ask VLCT to come and sort of walk us through what would be involved in changing to modified accrual.” Dupuis suggested “fund accounting,” which allows clear tracking by individual projects, but warned that Quickbooks, the software used by the town, “is not set up for fund accounting” and that new software is “really expensive.” Some small towns in Massachusetts, Dupuis said, outsource their accounting. No changes will be considered without consultation with town treasurer Patricia Dow.

The board voted to direct the planning commission to prepare a contract for planning assistance from the Windham Regional Commission. Eight thousand dollars has been budgeted, but until now there was no specific directive for how the money should be used. Planning commissioner Linda Smith told the board that the “pro forma approach (to planning) probably won’t work anymore.” Smith wants to find a way “to really plan ahead for seven to ten years, rather than just updating (the plan) and putting it back on the shelf.”

“The town,” Smith said, “is facing some fairly serious issues.” As an example, Smith noted that there is no provision in the plan for dealing with an application to build a major energy installation, such as solar arrays, wind projects or a biomass plant.

The planning commission will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, May 28, at 6:30 pm. Edwards, the selectboard member overseeing planning matters, said that she will attend that meeting and will “personally call each member and encourage their attendance.”

Selectboard and broadband committee member Earl Holtz reported that the Sovernet fiber line has now been connected to the school, but is not yet up and working. Holtz was unable to report any progress by VTel on its efforts to bring wireless broadband service to the town. Jessica Bruno reviewed the proposed procedures for committee members and other town functionaries to post items on the town website. Posts should be written and provided in electronic format to either Bruno or town clerk Dow. The selectboard approved the procedures.

Bruno also discussed the possibility of a Wi-Fi “hot spot” at the town office. The town would probably have to sponsor the hot spot; the cost could be as little as $25 a month from Fairpoint, to as much as $3,000 a month from Sovernet, according to the minutes of the last broadband committee meeting.

Board member Lewis Sumner announced that the Reed Hill bridge project is ready for “close-out,” the Deer Park bridge is complete, and the temporary bridge has been removed, and a pre-construction meeting for the Hale Road bridge is set for May 22, at 8:30 am.

Edwards discussed the “weight limit creep” that has pushed the scope and cost of the Old County North Road bridge past what anyone thinks is actually needed. The board will pay planning costs incurred to date 

and let Holden Engineering know that the board wishes to review its decisions before proceeding. The consensus among board members, Rafus, and attending residents was that the HS 30 level, with a weight allowance of 108,000 lbs, is “overkill,” though the current limit of 16,000 lbs is not strong enough. Only three households are served by the OCN bridge, but it is used by logging trucks and other heavy vehicles.

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