Halifax reviews truck replacement, bridge
by Margo Avakian
Apr 18, 2013 | 1772 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- The selectboard began discussion of the town’s next major purchase, the long-scheduled replacement of dump truck #3. Selectboard chair Edee Edwards noted that some of the bids submitted when a fire-damaged dump truck was replaced earlier in the year are still valid. The board briefly discussed two available trucks, but in the absence of board member Lewis Sumner, Edwards and Earl Holtz held off on voting. Edwards said she will again review the town’s finances; the unplanned replacement of the burnt truck has thrown the town’s equipment purchase schedule out of whack. The board may schedule a special meeting to consult with Sumner before making a final decision.

Emergency management directors John LaFlamme and Ross Barnett made a regular report to the board. LaFlamme told of software problems that prevented a printout of revised files. The co-EMDs also asked for clarification on the proper procedures for them to draw on their budget. Edwards, agreeing that a clear policy should be set, noted that the board has never set a policy authorizing or limiting expenditures by the incident commander in the midst of an emergency. The EMDs also briefed the board on technological and communications developments that may be coming down the pike, and presented a report for Vermont Emergency Management that needed to be signed by the chair.

Reviewing the quarterly treasurer’s report from Patricia Dow, Edwards observed that, as the town enters the third quarter of its fiscal year, more than a third of the selectboard’s funds remain unspent. Highway spending, however, is about 11% over budget. While there are some offsetting factors (FEMA reimbursements) and of course the unexpected truck replacement, Edwards expressed concern that gravel purchases are well over budget. The board, Edwards said, will be meeting with highway supervisor Bradley Rafus in an effort to devise some savings in the road budget.

The board also agreed to pay Bill Moore for work as assistant treasurer. Moore has been doing bank reconciliations as an internal auditing control. Dow considers the extra check essential in light of the full audit that the federal government will require next year in the wake of federal aid received by the town.

No replacement for Rafus was appointed to the planning/zoning boards.

Holtz reported that his research turned up no possible way to recoup money spent on the town garage’s ever-leaky roof. Holtz said it looks as if the roof may not have been done according to the designer’s specifications. “The company that did the design wasn’t the company that assembled the building,” Holtz said. He recommended consulting the designers for advice on solving the problem.

In a brief discussion of the proposed ride-along policy, Edwards made it clear that she would prefer to keep passengers in town vehicles to a bare minimum. She suggested that it is not an undue burden for a driver to phone a board member with a direct request. Edwards also would prefer to find a way to avoid 12- to 15-hour shifts for the road crew, rather than put passengers in the cab to keep the operator alert. In the related matter of a winter policy limiting hours worked, Holtz reported that past attempts to set such a policy ran into problems during heavy storms. As Rafus confirmed, if a storm is laying down two inches an hour, the roads must be plowed at intervals to prevent a build-up too heavy for the plows. Barnett also reminded the board of the need to keep roads clear for ambulances and fire trucks.

In other business, the board voted to send a letter to John Alexander, of VTrans, in regard to the Old County North bridge project. Holtz and Edwards both want to revisit decisions made on that project; both said they felt they had allowed themselves to be “sucked in” to a process that became more elaborate than was necessary. Edwards said she has real questions about “how much is needed, what’s overkill?” How massive a bridge is needed on a dead-end road that serves four houses? If the old bridge held enough weight to be safe, does the new bridge really have to hold so much more?

Edwards and Holtz reported briefly on their gleanings from the Selectboard Institute. Edwards noted that agenda preparation can be done without triggering the open meeting law. The board will likely explore the idea of assigning specific areas of responsibility to individual members, and Edwards would like to consider “time boxing” agenda items in order to control the amount of time spent on discussions.
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