The meeting of the Halifax selectmen last week began with Town Administrator Charlie Seelig giving an update on the Elementary School roof project.
Seelig told selectmen that if all goes well, roof repairs would be scheduled for the summer of 2017, and the 30 windows and doors, will be done the summer of 2018.
Halifax has been asked to separate out the design cost of items which will not be reimbursed, such as tree work, the fire surpression system (sprinkler system), the acoustics, work in the gym, and playground equipment, changing the cost of the request from $98,105 to $52,170.
Seelig told the board that they should hear next month whether the revised proposal is approved.
Selectman Kim Roy asked if the other things such as acoustic work, playground, and such – “are they needed or wanted?”
Selectman Tom Millias answered that the acoustics is a “wish for” item. He also noted that the fire suppression system is needed because of pinholes in the sprinkler pipes, resulting from the high mineral content in the water. Selectmen agreed that the fire suppression system was a “must have” item.
Roy asked that the remaining items be quoted individually so that they could decide which projects they want to go forward, and then “I can come back to you and, say, pick and choose.”
Roy said she didn’t want to pay for design for projects that we may not do.
Seelig told the board that in order to go through the process of design and bid, he anticipates the need for a special town meeting in late March to fund the elementary school roof.
Another item on the special town meeting warrant would be additional funding for legal services.
In a Burrage Pond Elm St. access update, Seelig said he had received correspondence from several parties objecting to the construction of the new access, made necessary by the former access road being built on someone else’s property. Seelig told the board that while he had letters of concern as well as letters in support of the new access road, it has nothing to do with the Town of Halifax as the state owns the land.
Selectmen accepted with regret the resignation of Joy Marble from the Holidays in Halifax committee. Marble said in her letter that she had enjoyed her time on the committee and would continue to enjoy the event, perhaps volunteering the day of the event in some capacity.
Verizon, with telephone property in all of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns, has been disputing their property assessments throughout the state for the past several years. The Department of Revenue’s Bureau of Local Assessment sent out a memo stating they have reached a settlement with Verizon that would result in a $7,856 refund to Verizon from the Town of Halifax. Selectman Tom Millias said Halifax got as good a deal as any town did, without joining in various law suits and thereby incurring legal costs.
Seelig told the board that the refund was covered by the Overlay Account and asked selectmen to approve Halifax’s acceptance of this settlement.
Regarding the Fieldstone Farms irrigation well, Mr. Clawson says the well can’t be tested in the winter and he doesn’t know what tests need to be done. Seelig told selectmen that the Board of Health has issued an order that specifically states what tests need to be done.
The matter of the Town of Halifax v. Bergstrom case conference was held in Boston in December. There will be a six-month discovery process, Seelig said, and the trial, if necessary, will be held in the fall.
Clawson v. Choate case discovery was held the same day and Ms. Choate was given 60 days to decide if she wants to actively defend the case. Sometime in February the board will learn if she wants to proceed.
Seelig said budget forms had been sent out to all departments in December to be returned by January 9. Although the formal legal deadline is March 1, in order to complete the work for the town budget, they ask that budget forms be returned in early January.
Town meeting will be May 8; Town Election will be May 13.
Legal fees increase
FY18 budget has been submitted to Selectmen, Seelig said, and the most significant increase was in the legal budget line item, raising it to $63,000. He said he wanted to budget accurately, anticipating upcoming legal issues. Last fiscal year the budget line item was $42,000 while the actual expense is projected to be $52,000. Seelig said he would seek a transfer to cover the town’s current legal fees at the spring Special Town Meeting.
Selectmen received a complaint concerning the lack of snow removal in the area of Old Ocean Avenue. The Highway Department has been limited in its snow removal there where the roads are about 1½ car widths wide. The larger plows are not able to get down the road and the smaller plows are limited in how much snow they can push, given the size of the snowplow blades. Mr. Badore, the highway superintendent, told Seelig that he would try to get a loader down there to help get rid of the snow.
Selectmen received two letters regarding snow plowing: a letter from Christmas Tree Lane stated their mailbox was hit and a letter from a Falmouth visitor commending the Halifax Highway Department for their proficiency in removing the snow and treating the roads.
In other business:
• Selectmen met with the Council on Aging to appoint Ava Grimason to the COA. Her term will expire June 30, 2017.
• Melinda Tarsi, a Halifax resident for over a year, professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Bridgewater State University, was appointed to the Finance Committee with the Board’s approval, her term expiring June 15, 2019.
• Lakeville Kennel’s contract was approved. This kennel handles the overflow from Halifax Animal Control.
• The Library’s 15 year old former 6-phone system was declared surplus.
• Local Emergency Planning Council grant from the state has been awarded in the amount of $1,127. Selectmen affirmed its acceptance.
• Trailer permit for 159 River St. has been retired because the trailer has been sold or removed.
• Merrill Engineering has done a site review on the Autumn Lane sub development and work is progressing.
• The Board of Health held a public hearing in early January to create reporting regulations for trash haulers including reporting on their recycling programs. The hearing was continued until March.
The board will next meet January 24.