The Halifax Board of Selectmen met on Monday, September 14 for one of their bonus meetings they’ve been holding throughout most of the pandemic.
Selectman Gordon Andrews recused himself from the Board of Selectmen in order to put on his School Committee hat. Andrews said that on September 9 Precision Air did an evaluation of the air flow at Halifax Elementary School. He explained, “They came back with a number of issues with basically the summary being that there are twenty classrooms that don’t meet the recommended level of having the air exchanged six times per hour in the classrooms.” Vice Chair of the School Committee Alex Meade, who works in the HVAC industry, told Andrews that ideally the filters would have been changed prior to running the test. Andrews said that time constraints prevented that from happening. The school plans to make improvements beginning with the classrooms that were flagged as having airflow issues. The test will be run again once that is complete.
As of the meeting on September 14, the test on the quality of air (versus the airflow test mentioned above) in the classrooms had not been done as that test would best be completed once the classrooms were populated with students and teachers. Andrews as well as Board of Health agent Bob Valery noted that something as small as mold on someone’s backpack or the tennis balls used on the bottom of chairs could affect the outcome of a test.
Andrews told the Board that Head Custodian Matt Durkee was requesting one additional maintenance facility personnel at the Halifax Elementary School through the CARES Act reimbursement deadline of December 31. The cost would be $19 per hour for 40 hours per week. The Board unanimously agreed to use some of the town’s CARES Act money to fund the position.
Andrews also requested that the selectmen approve the town using CARES Act funds to cover similar positions at both the middle and high schools. The positions being requested by Durkee would also be for $19 an hour and would be 40 hours per week over roughly 13 weeks. Each position is anticipated to cost $9,988. Andrews’ proposal to the other selectmen was that Halifax use their town’s CARES Act money to fully fund these maintenance positions with the assumption that Kingston and Plympton would be footing the bill for other COVID-related expenses that the schools will incur. Andrews said that as it was explained to him, whatever CARES Act funds that Kingston has left to be spent, will be put towards the schools as they had previously received none of the money.
Selectman Chair Tom Millias expressed concern over Halifax potentially expending a greater share of CARES Act money on the schools than the other two towns. Seelig said, “We’re putting money in early and the other two communities will be putting money in late; any future requests should reflect that.” The Board of Selectmen agreed to approve the requests for the two additional maintenance personnel with the understanding that other future requests from the middle and high schools will be considered based on the amounts already expended by the town.
Town Administrator Charlie Seelig said that the outdoor licenses granted to restaurants in town could be extended by the Board of Selectmen for two months from November 1. Seelig acknowledged the obvious in that restaurants would have to utilize heaters, etc. in order to serve people outside in the coming months.
Last Monday’s meeting also included the annual classification hearing prior to establishing the tax rate and issuing the tax bills. Before turning things over to Principal Assessor/Appraiser Holly Merry, Millias recused himself from the Board of Selectmen as he also serves on the Board of Assessors.
Merry said that they were proposing that residential, industrial, and commercial all be taxed at the same rate. The town of Halifax has less than ten percent of their properties that fall into either the industrial or commercial zone so therefore the Board of Assessors were not recommending a tax rate split. They also recommended against adopting the open space discount, the residential exemption, and the small commercial exemption. Merry asked the Board of Selectmen to vote on the proposals. They did so unanimously.