Other news on bridge construction was less positive. The town received four bids for construction of the Old County North bridge, ranging from $359,231 to $375,346. This is about $100,000 more than the board was expecting and would leave the town on the hook for about $200,000. “Could we just not do it?” Greg Marguet asked. Edwards explained that the project “has already been deferred for about four years,” due to massive emergency construction in the wake of Irene.
The bridge, built in 1973, according to board member Lewis Sumner, is in bad shape. The state notified Halifax several years ago that the deck and guard rails needed to be replaced. The design engineering process exposed the inadequacy of the underlying beams as well, significantly boosting the scope of the project. “It has to be done,” Edwards declared. How to fund it in light of the unexpectedly high bids is the problem. The possibility of bonding was mentioned, but no immediate action was proposed.
Robert Spencer, executive director of the Windham Solid Waste Management District, presented the board with information on the new universal recycling law. The law has a series of deadlines for changes in trash and recyclable collection and disposal. The first deadline, July 1, will not impact Halifax, Spencer said. That deadline affects only transfer stations and large-scale food scrap generators. In July 2015, statewide unit based pricing will take effect. This is basically a pay-as-you-throw measure, with charges based either on weight or volume.
At that time, recyclables will be banned from the landfill, and commercial haulers will be required to offer residential recycling collection at no extra charge. Spencer said no decision has been made on whether to leave the current recycling bins in place; he had no suggestions to offer those who do not employ a private hauler. By 2016, leaf, yard, and clean wood debris will be banned from landfills; by 2017, haulers will be required to offer food scrap collection, and by 2020, food scraps will be banned from landfills. “The devil is in the details,” Spencer said. Town governments, residents, and haulers will have to work together to decide how to implement the new requirements.
Marguet, who operates a solid waste hauling business, asked Spencer to explain single stream vs. dual stream processing of recyclables. Single stream, Spencer said, means all types of recyclables are hauled together, then separated at the station; Rutland has single stream processing facilities. The plant in Brattleboro operated by WSWMD is a dual stream facility. It can’t be converted, Spencer said, so if WSWMD decides to go to single stream, it might mean hauling loads to Rutland. The dual stream approach, noted Spencer, produces higher quality products; the WSWMD board currently favors trying to maintain its Brattleboro processing facility.
The board discussed an application for a Community Development Block Grant to support comprehensive emergency planning. The application, drafted with assistance from the Windham Regional Commission, must be approved at a public hearing before it can be submitted. No date for the hearing was set, but it will have to take place soon to meet the submission deadline. Meanwhile, board member Earl Holtz will consult the town’s emergency management directors to see if they are willing to take on oversight of the project.
Preparing for a Town Meeting discussion of its proposal to hire an administrative assistant, the board did some brainstorming on the responsibilities that would be delegated to an administrator. They came up with a fairly lengthy list, including highway time cards and tracking; preparing orders in advance of meetings; grant writing; basic legal and other research; budget and reserve fund oversight; attendance at board meetings; support in preparing the selectboard section of the town report; purchasing help; policy review and writing; attendance at regional meetings as needed; and basic project planning.
In other business, the board signed a contract with the WRC to assist the planning commission with updating zoning regulations, and decided to ask the school board to accept $150 as the value of keeping the school parking lot sanded.Holtz announced that a bulletin board has been set up in Halifax Center, providing a third place for the board to post public notices.