The Halifax Board of Selectmen are planning to have another joint meeting with the Plympton Board of Selectmen about establishing a plan for joint fire and EMS services.
The Halifax Board said that recently, the Plympton Board of Selectmen was still deciding on important details crucial to the deal. Plympton talked about sharing EMS services, but having a completely separate fire department.
Roy said she doesn’t think this benefits Halifax. Chief Viveiros agreed, saying he sees the potential for mismanagement issues in this type of structural agreement. Viveiros said the cross training present in Halifax’s department makes this difficult.
The other board members agreed. Selectman Troy Garron said he wants a more concrete plan. He said, “It’s all sort of up in the air.”
Millias said he understands the challenges Plympton faces with this sort of agreement, especially being a small town, there’s pressure to have a separate and independent fire department. He said it ultimately needs to work out for Halifax, so residents know their tax dollars are benefitting them.
“You can’t give it away and still have it…And I can see the political pressure, more so for a small town,” Millias said.
The Board believes an agreement can still be made. Viveiros said he met with Plympton Selectman John Traynor on Tuesday and said they came to a basic understanding that the structure of this intermunicipal agreement is a contract for hire.
Roy said she’s optimistic an agreement will be reached. She said if this does hit a wall, though she doesn’t think it will, it might be smart to use some of the Halfiax Fire Department’s grant money for Bernard Lynch to conduct another study.
Roy said the most important thing is that residents can see a clear benefit for Halifax with this agreement. She said, “We’re not a for profit organization, but we will not subsidize another community.”
One benefit that Viveirossaid Halifax would get from this agreement is the potential for more grant opportunities. He said there would also be “operational benefits” such as more responders on the scene and the opportunity for improved response times.
He said a larger department would also mean more opportunities for advancement. Roy added so advancements would be based on assessment of performance. Halifax would also be adding five full-time positions under this agreement.
The grant for this type of agreement expires January, 2019. Viveiros said there’s already been money put aside for joint training with Plympton. That training will start in September.
National Grid grilled
Town Administrator Charlie Seelig invited Joe Cardinal from National Grid to discuss what the town and/or National Grid can do to reduce the number of future outages from winter storms.
Cardinal said there’s a limit to what can be done because of the locations of the substations. There are no substations in Halifax with the closest being at Mill and Spring streets in East Bridgewater.
As far as building a new substation, Cardinal said it’s difficult because of Halifax’s location in National Grid’s territory. Halifax is closer to the edge of their territory with bordering town Plympton using Eversource for its electricity. However, Cardinal said, National Grid is looking at another location closer to Halifax, but it wouldn’t make a positive difference for another four to five years.
Selectmen Chair Kim Roy asked what could be done, and Cardinal mentioned a few things during his presentation. One thing Cardinal mentioned was the cutting down of 40 miles worth of dead trees.
Cardinal also said it’s important National Grid make sure electrical lines are technologically up to date. He said diamond lines are stronger and although are still no match for a tree, they should do better when branches fall on them.
“Ninety-five percent of outages are caused by trees,” said Cardinal. “So, there’s only so much you can do.”
Selectman Thomas Millias and Fire Chief Jason Vivieros asked about exploring the possibility of having a plan where National Grid works with the Department of Public Works to provide a joint effort in dealing with fallen trees and outages.
Cardinal said this is something that Pembroke has tried to do in the past and is still brought up every once in a while at manager meetings. The concern is if National Grid sets this up with one town, it would have to be set up with other towns, but said he wasn’t dismissing the idea.
It’s something that’s still actively discussed.
Cardinal suggested they bring it up at the next meeting between National Grid and municipality public safety officials.
As for what Halifax is doing now, Vivieros is working with the Board of Selectmen and Halifax Police Department to update the town’s critical facility list. Each critical facility is assigned a priority grade by National Grid for emergency responses.
Dennis Carman was named the town’s new town moderator. Carman has lived in Halifax for more than 35 years. He said he’s going to try to participate as much as possible because it’s important. Roy took this as an opportunity to highlight that the town needs volunteers. She said, “You’re right…we have smaller boards that meet monthly.”
Gordon Andrews officially resigned from the Finance Committee in order to serve on the school committees. This leaves some openings.
Diane Ruxton filled one of those openings and was appointed to serve on the Finance Committee until June 15, 2021. The committee currently has four members, which is the minimum for a quorum. Seelig said having seven members would be better. He said, “You don’t need a calculus, mathematics, or business degree.”
Dunkins Donuts donated $500 to the Council on Aging.
The Board of Selectmen approved the use of the town green for the Historical Society’s plant sale. It will take place on September 8, 2018.
The next Halifax Board of Selectmen meeting is scheduled for June 26. Open session begins at 7:30 p.m.