Many issues, a few decisions at meeting
by Margo Avakian
Oct 03, 2013 | 2173 views | 0 0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- Road names, purchasing policy revisions, the town plan process, salaries and hours, and the eternally leaking garage roof were among the many issues that occupied the selectboard at Tuesday’s meeting.

Halifax has several roads that are not passable over their whole length, and that is causing problems for emergency responders, who sometimes find they cannot reach their destination from the entry point they’ve used. Christina Moore, chief of the Halifax EMS, reminded the board that both police and ambulance services now come to the town from outside and are not familiar with the fine points of navigating back roads like Old County, Hall, Josh, Thurber, Carey, and Bell roads. Old County was relabeled Old County North and Old County South a few years ago in an effort to reduce confusion, but Moore said that sort of solution doesn’t work too well. The roads in question are not thickly settled, but Moore noted that frequent calls have been made to a location on Hall Road. More confusion arises from identically named roads in different towns and in cases where a road straddles a town line and each town begins its address numbering from its own end.

Changing road names and addresses creates a lot of problems in itself, and the board was not sure of the correct way to go about it. Board chair Edee Edwards asked Moore, Courser, and highway supervisor Bradley Rafus to look into the proper procedures and return in a month with a proposal.

Purchasing policy questions were up next. Currently, purchases under $3,000 are treated as routine; anything above that goes to bid. Edwards wondered if that limit makes sense for all departments. Moore, whose company, Storm Petrel, does business with the town, suggested raising the limit to $5,000 to save time and advertising money. Moore also urged setting up a system to certify vendors and presented a “sample vendor evaluation form” to track quality of goods and performance, pricing, timeliness, etc. She pressed strongly for making documented performance a higher criterion than price when the town awards jobs.

“How do we determine when this would kick in?” asked Edwards. “I don’t want to do this for FairPoint!” The board will appoint a committee to work on the issue. Board member Earl Holtz will serve on the committee, along with Rafus, and possibly treasurer and town clerk Patricia Dow, sometime town purchasing agent Joseph Tamburrino, and Ed Gay. The latter three were not present at the meeting.

Post-Irene construction projects are being closed out, and the town has recently received over $300,000 in reimbursements. Dow has requested authorization to make the final payment on the loan that enabled the town to get the work done, and the board was happy to comply. Moore reported that one close-out book is completed, with others soon to follow. Resolution for the Deer Park Road bridge will be on hold pending the appeal of FEMA’s refusal to pay for the extra length required to meet state standards.

The proposed switch to a 40-hour work week for the road crew is inching toward a decision. Holtz reviewed his calculations, which should result in a slight rise in average income with less overtime work. The board will hold a meeting dedicated to the issue on November 6, at 6:30 pm.

In other highway business, Rafus told the board he has drafted a possible winter road policy and will present it at the next meeting. He also asked for a site visit to the old town garage, where someone has filled in all the drainage ditches and dumped trash by the recycling bins. An emergency meeting to view and assess the damage will take place early Wednesday morning.

A date was also set for the board’s public hearing on the revised town plan. The hearing will be on October 29, at 7 pm.

The new garage’s leaky roof again generated lengthy, inconclusive discussion, some of it needed to explain the situation to residents who missed the last discussion of the issue. Edwards moved to accept the single bid received, but there was no second.

Board member Lewis Sumner suggested taking the cap off the roof and sealing that section and along the edge. Rafus thought that would not solve the problem. Nor, he said, is he “all for putting a roof over another roof.” Rafus thinks that a lack of support under the roof is causing it to gap in places. “I watched when Bill Butler walked the roof,” he said, “and I could see movement (in the roof).” Holtz, who is also leery of the double roof plan, noted that there is a “sister building in Massachusetts” put up by the same builder. “Maybe we could visit that building and see if it’s faring better” in order to get a clearer idea of what is wrong with the Halifax building, Holtz suggested.

The board did vote to accept the bid for the salt shed, however. Asked if the town could get by with purchasing less gravel this year to free up funds beyond what was budgeted for the shed, Rafus said he has enough gravel to get through the year. Holtz noted that going ahead with the shed “will allow us to see this vendor in action.”

Edwards announced that the municipal planning grant application is done and submitted. She also reported that there is now a vacancy on the school board.

In other business, Rafus was asked to determine the cost of using Jersey barriers as a temporary replacement for the old guard rails on two bridges. The state has approved that as a temporary fix. The board also will remove the temporary weight restriction on the now completed Hale Road bridge. Holtz will consult with Dow and report back on the proper procedure and wording for that move.
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