Pillsbury Memorial Town Hall
93 Main Street Sutton Mills, NH
Sutton Mills, NH 03221
Select Board

May 18, 2020 @ 4:00 p.m


The meeting was called to order at 4:00 p.m. by Robert Wright, Jr., Chair.  Present at the meeting  were:  Robert Wright, Jr., Chair; William I. Curless, Selectman; Dane Headley, Selectman; Diego Solimine, Solid Waste Supervisor, Robert DeFelice, Budget Chair; David Burnham, Health Officer; Carol Merullo, Town Clerk/Tax Collector; Yvonne Howard, Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector; Lorri Himes, Bookkeeper/Assistant; and Elly Phillips, Town Administrator.  Recorders note:  Social distancing requirements and requirements regarding public gatherings were observed.


The minutes from May 11, 2020, were approved as written.  The Board reviewed and approved the following manifests:



VENDOR MANIFEST:  $24,859.34


The Board reviewed and approved the following building permits:


Lindsay and Mike Stickney, 07-600-593, Cotton Road for a Barn – building permit for garage bay withdrawn.

Stephen Finkelstein, 08-057-374, Keyser Street, for a tennis court

David Webber and Katrina Lury, 08-836-049, Baker Hill Road, for a garage


The Board issued the following intent to cuts:


Robert Wright, 02-319-207, Blaisdell Hill Road, for 20 acres out of 38

SPNHF, 05-014-369, for 70 acres out of 1016

James and Judith Magee, 01-885-559, for 20 acres out of 28.2


The  Board approved the following exemption credit which was filed timely:


Glenn & Susan Pogust, 10-457-439, Summit Road, Solar 11,880 (received prior to April 15)



At 4:15 p.m. Diego Solimine, Solid Waste Supervisor, met with the Board to review the 2020 expenditure budget.  Selectman Wright explained that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board seeking input on potential expenditure reductions in order to identify potential savings.  Any expenditure savings will impact fund balance and be used to offset anticipated state and local revenue reduction.


Mr. Solimine felt that expenditures might be reduced from the following line items:  repairs, safety equipment, uniforms, operator certification, electronic recycling, Oil filter and florescent bulb recycling and tire removal.  Mr. Solimine advised that it is unlikely that hazardous waste recycling will occur this year which would result in another area for reduction.   Other areas that were potentially earmarked for reductions were heating, diesel and wages.  The Board discussed the current policy of not accepting payment for construction debris disposal.  Not accepting Construction debris was proving burdensome for citizens.  Mr. Solimine advised that most people pay by checks and suggested having a payment dropbox so that the attendants would not have to handle paperwork.  Selectman Curless made a motion that the transfer station begin collecting payments.  The payments to placed into a box.  Selectman Headley seconded the motion.  The Board discussed the accounts receivable process in further detail.  The motion passed by a unanimous affirmative vote.


Selectman Wright estimated that $5,300 could be saved from Solid Waste expense line items and additional funds may be available from wages.  Mr. Solimine will strive to have all projects and repairs performed during regular operating hours to reduce hourly wage costs.   Mr. DeFelice emphasized that those present understood that these potential reductions were estimates and circumstances may change.  Mr. DeFelice added that this effort to cut expenses was for the 2020 year and that would also be explained to the 2021 budget committee.  The Select Board is simply bringing awareness to the issue during these very unusual circumstances surrounding the pandemic.   There was a general discussion regarding solid waste operations.


Elly Phillips, Town Administrator, reported on  Planning/Zoning/Conservation Commission and Welfare’s 2020 expenditure review for potential reductions in the operating budget as follows:  The Planning Board indicated that there will be unspent funds for wages.  In addition, the planning board anticipates reduced applications which will result in a savings from professional services, postage and notices.  The Conservation Commission suggested that $500 could come out of dues, conferences and publications and $254.00 from special projects.  Welfare cannot forecast how the 2020 is going to be affected due to the pandemic but observes there has not been increased demand for services.  Welfare will be receiving a donation which they wish to encumber outside the operating budget.  The donation will be accepted at the next regularly scheduled meeting. In addition, a grant for the rescue squad will be accepted at that meeting.


Mr. DeFelice discussed an approach to the 2021 budget process that might be of interest to the library.  He suggested providing the library with a flat appropriation for operating expenses similar to the disbursement for the rescue squad.   The library trustees have finance authority under state law.  Town accounting staff would continue to administer the payroll for the library.  When presenting the budget to the budget committee, the library would justify the previous year’s budget for their basis.  Proposed increases could be presented as a warrant article which would facilitate the library’s autonomy and provide an opportunity for public outreach at Annual Meetings.   Up until recent years, this is how the library appropriations were handled.    Selectman Wright noted the substantial changes in the library over the last few years.  The Board will arrange to meet with the library  on June 8 at their regularly scheduled meeting to obtain feedback from the library regarding this approach to  funding.  The library trustees will also have an opportunity to review their operating budget for potential expenditure reduction at that time.   In addition, the library has requested remote access to the Select Board Meetings due to concerns with social distancing.  Conference calling will be made available beginning with the June 1, 2020 meeting.


At 5:00 p.m. David Burnham, Health Officer, met with the Board to discuss re-opening measures for town buildings.  Also in attendance were:  Carol Merullo, Town Clerk/Tax Collector; Yvonne Howard, Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector; Lorri Himes, Bookkeeper/Assistant; and Elly Phillips, Town Administrator.   Mr. Burnham advised that the greatest risk for transmission was within closed quarters.  Mr. Burnham opined that it was in the town’s best interest to reduce exposure to staff, noting that none of the office staff members could be replaced with a week or two of training.  Staff were currently meeting citizen needs through email, scanning, online payments, use of the dropbox and appointments.  Some citizens are having a bit of difficulty with response times, because they unable to discern that they are “in line” over the telephone or via email.


Carol Merullo, Town Clerk/Tax Collector, recommended holding off on opening up a little longer.  Ms. Merullo observed that processing is a little more challenging under these circumstances and in that citizens have to exercise patience as turnaround is not immediate.  Appointments are scheduled at ½ hour intervals which allows time to obtain necessary paperwork and sanitize after appointments.  Ms. Merullo advised that if she gets sick there is no available backup at this time.  Training for the Deputy has been delayed due to the virus.  Yvonne Howard, Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector agreed that things should stay the way they are for now.


Lorri Himes, Bookkeeper/Assistant stated that she supported keeping things going the way they are.  Noting that staff is doing a really good job providing virtual, online and by appointment services.  Ms. Himes was concerned about exposure to the public and resurgence of the virus now that things are opening up.  There was a general discussion regarding COVID-related office procedures.


Elly Phillips, Town Administrator, worried over the logistics of social distancing in the lobby noting that if there is a citizen at the Town Clerk’s workstation and one at the Selectmen’s office, they would be within 6 feet of one another.   If there was a line, it would have to queue through the main hall and protective measures would need to be developed for citizens exiting and entering the building.   Phillips added that administrative staff are currently responsible for cleaning up and disinfecting the Pillsbury Memorial Hall.    Phillips recommended current practices until such time as the number of positive cases in NH is trending downward as opposed to upward.  Selectman Curless recommended that preparations for reopening should continue during the closure.


Mr. DeFelice recommended extending the closure time an additional three weeks observing that NH was going to see an influx of out-of-staters during the coming Memorial Day weekend.  In other words, waiting until at least mid-June to reopen.  Selectman Curless stated that some practices should be implemented such as everyone in the office wearing masks as well as the installation of plastic barriers.  No more than two people should be in the vestibule at any one time with instructional signage on the door.


Selectman Headley questioned who has the authority regarding opening up – Is it a state or local decision.  Health Officer Burnham responded that previous legal opinion was that the town does not have the authority to go over the Executive Order.  Ms. Himes reiterated that the Town Hall is providing all its normal services at this time and reviewed office practices.  Mr. Burnham recommended that anyone entering the building should wear a mask.  There was a lengthy discussion regarding whether or not the wearing of a mask could be mandated. Hygiene practices observed by various local businesses were discussed at length.  Mr. DeFelice observed that this was a rapidly changing situation and requires flexibility in response.


Mr. Burnham discussed transmission of the disease and recommended that plastic barriers be installed to protect employees.   Mr. Burnham recommended that anyone who does not wish to wear a mask must be met out-of-doors in an effort to reduce the possible transmission of the virus.


Selectman Headley recommended updating to the answering machine messages to make citizens aware that due to heavy volume there is going to be a wait time for answering calls.  Ms. Merullo advised that she will be updating her message and provide an automatic email response.


There was a general discussion regarding grant deadlines for reimbursement of COVID related expenses.   Mr. DeFelice recommended obtaining air circulators for the meeting area.


Selectman Wright wrapped up the meeting stating that the Hall was going to remain closed until a later date to be determined.  Procurement of plastic barriers was discussed.  The Board authorized Phillips to proceed with the acquisition.  Ms. Himes said that it is about slowing down the spread.  Selectman Wright said that the Select Board would rely on the Health Officer prior to making any final decisions.   Mr. Burnham will contact the library regarding their plans for opening up.  Ms. Himes recommended that masks be worn during Select Board meetings.  Mr. Burnham reinforced that opinion.  Masks will be made available for the next meeting.  Ms. Himes thanked the Board for listening to input from staff.



Selectman Wright made a motion to appoint Dane Headley to serve as ex-officio member of the Planning Board effective May 18, 2020.  Selectman Curless seconded the motion.  The motion passed by a unanimous affirmative vote.



The Board issued the 2020 First Issue Tax Warrant in the amount of  $3,889,589.


The Board received examples of purchasing policies for review and discussion at a future meeting.   The current policy is out-of-date.


Selectman Wright’s momentous birthday was acknowledged by those present.


It was noted that there was a school board meeting scheduled for 5/21 which allows for attendance by Zoom.



The Board noted the following item of correspondence:  NHMA Covid-19 Municipal Reilef Fund FAQ’s


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:50 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Elly Phillips

Town Administrator