Article 11, which would have set the budget for the first and/or second constable at its usual level of $10,000, drew a proposal from Mitchell Green to amend the sum to $2,000. Green’s amendment was based on the fact that as of July 1, 2012, all constables without certification from the Vermont State Police Academy will lose their law enforcement powers. Neither of this year’s candidates for the office (Leonard Derby and William Butler) is certified, nor could either achieve certification by July 1. Former constable Andy Rice proposed that Green’s amendment be itself amended to stipulate that if an uncertified constable is attending classes at the academy, the full $10,000 would be made available. Rice’s modification was approved, and voters then passed the article in its amended form.
The issue was somewhat complicated by an Australian ballot item proposing that the selectboard be authorized to appoint constables. This would allow the board to choose a certified, or certifiable, person for the office. Even if voters approve that change, whoever is elected constable for the coming year will serve out his term.
The new budgetary constraint, however, will go into effect on July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.
The only other article on the town warning that attracted debate was the proposal to exempt the Trust for Wildlife Nature Sanctuary from property tax for the next five years. Howard and Rose Alboum both questioned whether the cost of the exemption outweighed the usefulness of the sanctuary’s programs. After some discussion, the article passed without any dissenting votes.
In the school district portion of the meeting, voters passed the $1,429,219 budget without a murmur. But Article 3, proposing to add two more directors, with two-year terms, to the three-member school board, was defeated. Interestingly, a motion to pass over the article was also defeated, a majority of the voters present determining that the proposal was worth debating and voting on.
Both outgoing selectboard chair John LaFlamme and state representative Ann Manwaring told voters that the state will hold towns harmless for any of their share of Irene recovery costs which exceed monies raised by a 3-cent rise in the municipal tax rate. This measure could save Halifax about $246,000.
Voters applauded both announcements and heartily endorsed Christina Moore’s proposal to send a formal note of thanks to the state for the extra aid.
It was a day of applause, in fact, with voters expressing thanks and approval for all who helped out in the storm recovery - the selectboard, the emergency staff, the road crew, temporary staff, and all volunteers.
Board member Lewis Sumner also led the crowd in applause for LaFlamme’s six years of service.