The All-purpose Room at the Halifax Elementary School was filled to bursting with the 241 registered voters and 37 visitors who came to see or take part in old fashion New England style democracy. The Halifax Annual and Special Town Meetings were underway.
Many were older members of the population eager to help push forward the new Halifax Senior Center at the site of the current Halifax Museum. They have been disappointed before and it seemed that like Lucy with the football, they would be disappointed again.
Selectman chairman Gordon C. Andrews told the assembly that after 6:30 last Friday night, he received word from the cost estimator that with rampant inflation in the construction field, the project could not be completed for the price previously stated, indeed it would need to be increased by at least another $800,000 to finish the job. Andrews seemed very disappointed as he spoke to the assembly;.he has been working on this project for nearly two years.
A woman took the microphone and asked if Article 32 could be heard out of order as so many older persons came specifically to vote on it. After consulting with town counsel, the meeting was told it must proceed at the mercy of the lottery as to when Article 32, concerning the funding for the senior center, could be heard and voted. After 10 p.m. the article was called.
Support for Article 32 came from all sides. Summer Schmaling, who is also a member of the Halifax Elementary School Committee, asked if the $160,000 remainder from the School Roofing project could be appropriated for the Senior Center project even though the Town isn’t ready to spend it, lest it be diverted into another project. Bob Kniffen agreed that the money needs to be put aside for the specific project of the senior center. A dozen voters took to the microphone to support the project. When the vote was called, and the green cards raised for “Yes”, the vote was unanimous! The next step is to vote the project on the ballot in Saturday’s election.
Article 2 was passed to add the holiday “Juneteenth” to the list of designated holidays in the Wage and Personnel By-Law Section, as well as give a 1% increase to all Wage and Personnel employees
Article 3 was passed by town meeting to fix the salaries of the Moderator, Town Clerk, Selectmen, Treasurer-Collector, Assessors, and Highway Surveyor, giving those positions a 1% pay increase for FY23.
Article 4 passed the town’s operating budget.
Article 5 dealt with setting revolving accounts, including Fire Chief CPR classes, ZBA consulting, Library computer, printers and copier, Selectmen legal advertising, Council on Aging Elderbus, Building Inspector Wages, and several more. The article passed.
Article 6 is the same article for $125,000 that comes before the town each year to set up reserves in case of unforeseen emergencies during the year.
Article 7 funds a 1% wage increase for firefighters who are in the union.
Article 8 funds a 1% wage increase for the Highway and Cemetery workers who are in the union.
Article 13 voted $300,000 to maintain town roads.
Article 14 voted $18,600 to pay for the assessors’ recertification which is done every five years.
Article 17 asked the town for $7,379 to purchase and install cell block surveillance cameras for the Police Department. The existing cameras are beginning to fail. Passed unanimously.
Article 20 would replace a single walled tank for waste oil with a double walled 500 gallon tank to be located at the Highway Barn. The motion passed.
Article 21 asked for $75,000 to purchase a new Water Recycling Unit and Shed Roof for the Wash Bay at the Highway Barn to bring the town up to code with MS4 stormwater regulations. The motion passed.
Article 22 voted $3,500 to the South Shore Resource and Advocacy Center, providing residents with services dealing with domestic violence intervention and prevention. Article 26 voted $4,000 to purchase two copy machines, one for the Highway Department, one for the Holmes Public Library.
Article 28 voted $36,800 to install exterior surveillance cameras at several locations for the safety of employees, as well as the public, especially at night.
Article 29 voted $60,000 to purchase and equip a new truck for the Water Department that will have a plow to assist the Highway Dept.
Article 33 approved $110,000 as Halifax’s share to repair and rebuild the tennis courts at Silver Lake High School.
Article 35 approved $46,380 to purchase 15 body worn cameras for the Police Dept. This is a 5-year cost, including a camera upgrade and replacement after 3 years.
Article 38 was passed over.
Article 41 voted $22,057 to reimburse the Halifax Housing Authority for payments made by the authority to the Plymouth County Retirement Fund for an employee of the Town of Hlaifax.
Article 44 asked the town to establish a Stabilization Fund for the Silver Lake Regional School District. The town said no. Ed Whitney of Stoney Weir Rd. said it was removing control from the townspeople. The article failed.
Article 45 would allow the selectmen to grant temporary liquor licenses for events held on town properties. The article passed.
The meeting was adjourned until Tuesday night, but then rescheduled for Monday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. when the remaining 22 articles will be acted upon.