The Halifax Board of Selectmen received noise complaints from neighbors about dogs barking in the early morning at the Tarawood Kennel. Town Administrator Charles Seelig informed the Board of these complaints at the selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, July 11, 2017.
Selectmen Vice Chair Kim Roy said there haven’t been any other complaints about noise this year. Roy did however visit the area and verified with other neighbors that they could hear dogs barking in the early hours of the morning. Those neighbors had no complaints though because they recently installed new air conditioning and no longer keep the windows open at night.
According to the Board, Tarawood Kennel is due for a random inspection with the town’s animal control officer Noreen Callahan, a requirement before recertifying a kennel’s permit.
ACO Callahan told selectmen she had attempted inspections on two separate occasions this year, but both times failed to get access to the property. Both times, the gate was closed without anyone there to let Callahan in. All members of the Board expressed concern about the gate preventing the kennel’s inspections from being random as they are required to be.
The board is taking the issue seriously and is looking at a potential hearing to exploring all options before any licensing reissuance can be done. Selectmen Vice Chair Kim Roy said that there are questions that need to be answered first. She said, “What means is she (the Tarawood Kennel owner) taking to deal with noise?”
Selectmen Chair Thomas Millias said he is concerned about access keeping a random inspection from happening. He said, “We aren’t trying to do these inspections at two in the morning.” Millias said they want to do it at a reasonable work hour.
Kim Roy said that Bobbi Harmon of Tarawood Kennels claims she tried reaching out to Callahan by phone on a couple of occasions, but never heard a response. However, according to the Board, Callahan attempted to contact Harmon several times and claimed her message box was full.
The Board members all said they’d like to get this taken care of with an inspection this week and a future hearing, but are exploring other measures if necessary. Chair Millias mentioned the possibility of a search warrant, but the board does not want to take this step if they do not have to.
Work off Program
The Board of Selectmen voted to increase the maximum married couple income for the Senior Tax Work off Program from $50,000-60,000. Council on Aging Director Barbara Brenton met with the Board to make this proposal.
Brenton did surveys of other towns who use the tax program including Duxbury and Bourne. The surveys showed that the maximum allowed income was up and down throughout the state.
Brenton said the town has two unused slots for this program that gives tax relief to seniors in need. She admitted that advertising the program has been a challenge and are hoping this will help some people qualify who may not have previously.
Selectmen Vice-chair Kim Roy suggested putting a slip with details about the program in seniors’ tax bill, which the rest of the Board as well as Brenton thought was a good idea. However, Selectmen Clerk Troy Garron said that they would have to check with town tax collector before doing so. The Board also suggested Area 58 Community Access as an opportunity for better promotion.
Electrical Aggregation Update
Chairman Thomas Millias said the electrical aggregation agreement with Colonial Powers goes into effect on September 1, 2017. The aggregation gives residents of Halifax an option for lower rates outside of National Grid.
The rates will be 9.3 cents per kilowatt hour until November 17, 2017. After that, rates are expected to go up to 10.87 cents per kilowatt hour for around three to four months. According to Town Administrator Charles Seelig, this increased rate will still be less than what National Grid raises their rates to during the winter months.
Citizens will be allowed to opt out of the aggregation program if they like. Information will be mailed and will include a post card that residents can check off and send if they wish to opt out of the program.
The Board of Selectmen received requests asking if the town could hire someone to weed the Margaret Fitzgerald Garden located on the Town Green this summer. These requests are being explored in a preliminary manner.
Town Administrator Charles Seelig said he plan to speak with the Finance Committee about using a contractor for this service rather than creating a new position. Seelig said that temporary hiring can be difficult because of pay grading.
Thomas Millias and Kim Roy also brought up there are complications with paying for unemployment when it comes to temporary positions. Kim Roy also wants committee input. She said, “I would suggest that the beautification committee be involved with this.”
The HOPS Playground grant was scheduled to be completed for Wednesday July, 12, 2017. Town Administrator Charles Seelig said that things are on schedule with the grant.