Halifax tax rates will spike due to bridge work
by Margo Avakian
Jul 21, 2014 | 2884 views | 0 0 comments | 96 96 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- Last March town residents bit the bullet and voted for a substantial rise in the budget; now comes the painful part. The selectboard announced a residential rate of 2.2282 cents and a nonresidential rate of 2.3259 cents. According to treasurer Patricia Dow, those rates represent an increase of 24 cents and 30 cents respectively.

A good chunk of the extra expense is due to the new Old County North Road bridge. Construction of the bridge proceeds apace, reported board member Earl Holtz. The beams are in place, and much of the rebar work is done. Holtz once again strongly praised the construction crew, noting that if the town goes forward with a proposal to rate its vendors, LaTulippe will be “up near the top.”

Jessica Bruno, of the broadband/cell/economic development committee, reported that the committee met with Chris Campbell, of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, to discuss Halifax’s participation in the Business Broadband Improvement District program. Clusters of businesses have been identified by the committee and have been approved for the BBID program. Bruno told the board about two possible alternate sources of broadband service; Thomas Hill and Hale Road businesses and residents might be able to get service through Comcast, and the southwest corner of Halifax might be able, with a suitably sited tower, to get wireless service from the Southern Vermont Broadband Co-op. Bruno will attend a meeting in August to explore the latter possibility.

Board member Edee Edwards expressed a concern with the new VTel application for its proposed monopole in Halifax Center. The original application was for a site 100 feet from the road. That site was disallowed after pieces of bricks from the piers under an old schoolhouse were found there. The new site is only 53 feet from the road, and Edwards wants VTel to use a break-away type pole to reduce the danger of its falling into the road. Holtz and board chair Lewis Sumner were a bit reluctant to sign the letter drafted by Edwards, fearing that any further delays or objections might scotch the project, but Edwards argued hard and won them over.

Edwards, inspired by a half-hour wait for a quorum at last week’s planning commission meeting, asked her colleagues if they are prepared to ask a commissioner who has not attended in months to step down. Holtz suggested asking the commissioner to meet with the board in executive session to discuss the problem. Edwards will notify him.

Marilyn Allen suggested that in future, a policy mandating removal from a board after a given number of meetings is missed would help eliminate personal awkwardness. Allen also suggested appointing alternates.

The highway crew, reported supervisor Bradley Rafus, found a culvert “in bad shape” when they cleaned up after recent heavy rains. Exactly what replacing it will cost is unclear; a hydrology study is needed. In fact, said Rafus, a study was done “right after Irene ... but I haven’t been able to get the results yet.” Asked by Holtz if the situation is an emergency, Rafus replied, “I wouldn’t trust it too much longer.” Rafus will continue trying to retrieve the hydrology data from whatever bureaucratic hole it’s hiding in and will investigate the possibility of getting emergency funding for the fix.

Rafus warned that a two-day road closure may be needed while a section of Green River Road near the Deer Park bridge is repaired. Although that portion of the road was redone after Irene, it is failing due to “a bad mix” of materials. Rafus said he rejected a suggestion from Lane Construction that the road simply be patched. “We paid to have a quality job done,” he said.

In other highway news, Rafus is drafting specs for a replacement for the town’s one-ton truck, and calculating the cost of equipment rental to aid in removing several hazardous trees on Amidon Road. A ditch put in at the Hale Road bridge has failed. Rafus reported, “The big storm took out all the stone.” Noting that a good amount of gravel remains after spring road repair, Rafus suggested purchasing 5,000 cubic yards, half the normal amount. The board voted to have Rafus request bids for that amount.
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