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

September 21, 2020



The meeting was called to order at 4:00 p.m. by Robert Wright, Jr., Chair. Mr. Wright read into the record the authorization to meet electronically per Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order 12, pursuant to Executive Order 2020-04.


Present at the meeting were: Robert Wright, Jr., Selectman; William I. Curless, Selectman; Dane Headley Selectman; Adam Hurst, Road Agent; Marcy Vierzen, Library Trustee; Betsy Forsham, Corporation Hill Road; Karen and Michael Heffernan and Paul Little, Grist Mill Street, Tom Schamberg, State Representative for Sutton and Wilmot, and Elly Phillips, Town Administrator. Attending by teleconference was Robert DeFelice, KRSD Municipal Budget Committee Member and Sutton Budget Committee Chair; and Emilio Cancio-Bello, KRSD School Board Representative.


At 4:02 p.m. Selectman Curless made a motion under RSA 91-A,II (a) (personnel) to enter into non-public session. Selectman Headley seconded the motion. The Board was polled with Selectman Wright, Selectman Curless and Selectman Headley voting in the affirmative. The Board conducted a performance evaluation for Adam Hurst, Road Agent. Non-public session concluded at 4:24 p.m. After a brief recess, public session reconvened at 4:30 p.m. The minutes were not sealed.


Selectman Wright read the following announcement into the record:

Due to the COVID 19/Coronavirus Pandemic and in accordance with Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order #12, pursuant to Executive Order 2020-04, this Board is authorized to meet electronically. The public has access to contemporaneously listen and participate in this meeting by telephone by calling 978-990-5000 and entering access code 112820. A non-public session has been scheduled for 4:00 p.m. to conduct an annual evaluation.   Public session will resume at 4:30 p.m. Those present (listed above) announced themselves.


At 4:30 p.m., Selectman Wright recognized Betsy Forsham to discuss matters concerning erosion on the bank on Corporation Hill.   Ms. Forsham had previously expressed concerns regarding an accident that occurred on Corporation Hill Road that dislodged the bank and unseated two large rocks resulting in a cavern in the embankment.   Mr. Hurst indicated that the highway department would be able to perform corrective maintenance and estimated the repairs to be a 15 minute job. Ms. Forsham felt that if there were expense incurred that the Town should recover from the driver’s insurance. Sergeant Crone responded to the accident and took photographs and an accident report was on file with the Police Department if follow up is necessary. Ms. Forsham felt that if there was a rain event the pavement might be compromised. Ms. Forsham raised an additional issue regarding the Grist Mill Street Bridge. She stated that she took photographs of the problem with the stone embankment on Grist Mill Street in July and today (9/21/2020). Ms. Forsham spoke with Doug Sweet, a retired engineer, who agreed that there should be some permeable material used to protect the bank in order to allow for water flow due to hydrostatic pressure. Ms. Forsham observed that is where the town pushes all the snow, and when it rains and freezes, this creates hydrostatic pressure against the rocks. Ms. Forsham observed that it is interesting that right where the snow gets stockpiled is where the wall is caved in. She encouraged the Board and Road Agent to explore other areas to push the snow. Ms. Forsham felt that the Town should consult with an engineer and that would be well worth the expense. Ms. Forsham was advised that the Town is in the process of contacting an engineer for a consult.   There may be remedial work done this year and that the town may need to appropriate funds in 2021 for the repairs.


Karin Heffernan conveyed concerns regarding the rocks that have tumbled into the river causing erosion of the bank on Grist Mill Street. Ms. Heffernan has photographed the bank over time and is noticing more and more dirt falling on the rocks. The Grist Mill residents are concerned about a telephone/electrical pole that the town had Eversource place right in the area that the town pushes the snow during winter maintenance. Ms. Heffernan observed that the pole is located 8 feet from the eroded portion of the riverbank.   The residents are concerned that all the snow gets pushed there and that snow melt will exacerbate the situation due to runoff. Ms. Heffernan noted that the pole is about six feet underground, but the guy line attached to the pole has slack on it. Ms. Heffernan advised that this pole is connected to the main transformer pole that serves Corporation Hill. Eversource will not relocate the pole unless the Town requests it, since the Town originally specified that location. The Eversource engineer contacted the residents and advised them that any action would have to initiated by the town. Ms. Heffernan discussed the location that the snow is currently being winter piled and suggested an alternative location on their property. Ms. Heffernan praised the Road Agent on how well the highway crew maintains Grist Mill Street.   The Heffernan’s are having some trees removed which might provide for a better area for the snow. Ms. Forsham observed that an alternative location for the snow might also relieve some of the hydrostatic pressure on the riverbank.


Selectman Wright recapped the concerns expressed in Ms. Heffernan’s letter as follows: “the enormous boulders used to shore up the wall of the river on Grist Mill Street have tumbled into the river. . . . telephone built at the end of the road is where the snowplow pushes all the snow . . to the left of the bridge entrance.” The telephone pole is sagging.   Ms. Heffernan noted that at the moment the pole is stable, but the neighbors are being proactive.   Ms. Heffernan indicated that either the pole should be relocated or the bank be stabilized.


Selectman Curless discussed the pictures that were presented to the Board. Selectman Curless said that he took a photograph of the area on August 3, 2020. He noted that today’s picture looked similar, but that he wants to do another site visit. It was acknowledged that this has been a dry year. Adam Hurst, Road Agent will look at the pole location.   It was suggested that since the town will be retaining an engineer to look at the bank, perhaps they could suggest an appropriate spot for the pole. In addition, after the location to pile snow is determined. The Town should enter into a letter of agreement with the Heffernan’s memorializing the understanding for future reference. It is likely that the town will need to mitigate the problem through stabilization in 2020 and budget for permanent corrective action in 2021.   Selectman Curless agreed to be the point person on the Select Board for this project. Selectman Wright summarized that the town will retain a qualified engineer to address the situation and that the neighbors will be kept in the loop.


At 5:00 p.m. the Board recognized Emilio Cancio-Bello, KRSD School Board Representative for a quarterly conversation regarding the Kearsarge Regional School District. Selectman Wright asked Mr. Cancio-Bello to provide a summary of school actions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that he originally had concerns regarding in-person classes during the pandemic. He noted that the school administration worked tirelessly to provide a safe educational platform and have been quite successful. Mr. Cancio-Bello described the ways children can attend which are:

  1. In-person, spaced in a socially distant manner with masks are worn at all grade levels. Students are provided with an area to take mask breaks. There was initial concern about kids not following rules, but the kids are paying attention and are doing things right.
  2. Some Students are located in a second classroom (taught by the same teacher remotely) with sub or second teacher present for supervision and to answer questions. Social distancing is observed to make sure everyone is safe.
  3. In-home education allows for students to stay home and attend remotely at the same time as their fellow in-school students. They can ask questions and answer questions.


Mr. Cancio-Bello stated the District is doing a phenomenal job. A primary concern of many parents has been the sports programs. It was noted that it is impossible to be socially distant with contact sports. Mr. Cancio-Bello cited an example of a school that had a sports program and a resulting COVID outbreak forced the school to close.


Mr. Cancio-Bello advised that technology has provided as much connectivity as possible as well as Chromebooks for children that need them. Mr. Cancio-Bello noted that there are connectivity issues in some locations such as Springfield. TDS provided connectivity up until June but has since stopped the program. The District is providing WI-FI hot spots for people to connect to the classroom as a temporary solution and is working on a more permanent cold weather solution.


Selectman Wright opened the discussion to questions from the Board, recognizing Selectman Headley.


Selectman Headley asked a question regarding CARES funding for the school for supplies. Mr. Cancio-Bello stated that the school was applying for grant reimbursement. He noted that substantial expenses have been incurred for cleaning and PPE. Selectman Headley observed that the District has spent over twice the amount of the allocation.   Selectman Headley asked for an explanation of how the amount of grant was arrived at and expressed concerns that the District has exceeded the funding levels. Mr. Cancio-Bello stated that the District needed to spend what was necessary for a safe educational environment. Mr. Cancio-Bello was unclear on the rationale for the allocations, but agreed to follow up on this get back to the Select Board.


Mr. Cancio-Bello discussed the fact that the State will no longer be funding the retirement fund for teachers passing the cost on to the municipalities, thus creating an unfunded mandate. Mr. Cancio-Bello advised that additional costs were incurred by the District for cleaning staff and a stand-by service has been retained in case the school needs to use them.


Selectman Headley stated that he thought the District has done what they needed to do and that cash outlay was required and that he was just curious at how the allocations were distributed. To date, the District has not received grant funding.


Selectman Headley discussed a meeting held by the District where someone was asked “to check with the Towns to see how tax revenues were doing so that they could adjust their budget if necessary.” Selectman Headley questioned whether that was a way to set up a budget. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that it was not and that he was not aware of this. Mr. Cancio-Bello described how the budget is put together which is a relatively long process. The process begins at the end of the year. Over the summer the administrators develop a budget that is turned into the Superintendent. The Superintendent reviews the budget and works with the administrators to make reductions where possible.   The resulting budget is presented to the School Board and Municipal Budget Committee at the beginning of the year.   In the past it was presented to the Board and the MBC separately. However, having a combined meetings, allows for both boards to hear the same presentation and questions that are asked. This method facilitates the budget process. Several iterations of the budget are reviewed and fine tuned until the end of November. The MBC finalizes their numbers in December. Mr. Cancio-Bello noted that due to entitlements and out-of-district placements there is an increase in the 2020-2021 budget. The District has no control over out-of-district placements which can cost anywhere from $100,000 – $300,000 a year. The current percent increase is 2.7% or 1.2 million dollars.


Mr. DeFelice complimented Mr. Cancio-Bello on his explanation of the budget process. Mr. DeFelice clarified for Mr. Cancio-Bello that a question came up at one of the District meeting regarding municipal revenues. The School Board Chair requested that someone follow up with the Towns regarding the impact of COVID on revenues.


Mr. Cancio-Bello noted that there are projects that are being deferred based on revenues.   Mr. Cancio-Bello cited the following example: the District has long be considering ways to reduce its carbon footprint. It was noted that solar panels would be relatively expensive. Mr. Cancio-Bello spearheaded an effort to convert the buses from diesel to propane which would reduce emissions by over 70%. This conversion would also solve diesel problems due to cold temperatures. If buses are too cold, they will not start. Drivers have to plug them in and get reimbursed for electricity. Mr. Cancio-Bello advised that propane buses are good to 40 below zero.   The buses reduce emissions, are less noisy, and require less maintenance. A propane refueling station would cost about $30,000. This expense could be recovered. If all buses were running on propane, the district would save between $32,000-$34,000 a year. The proposed $30,000 expenditure took three meetings for consideration. Discussion of this matter is ongoing. Mr. Cancio-Bello observed that the pressure is high to save when possible.   Mr. Cancio-Bello felt that this is a great opportunity to save money, but there was a lack of support to spend the $30,000 for the refueling station in an effort to contain costs. Robert DeFelice, KRSD MBC representative agreed with that assessment and stated that he supported the expenditure for the propane refueling station. Mr. DeFelice advised that the Municipal Budget Committee conducted a non-binding vote which was in support of the expenditure.   The School Board continues to have concerns regarding the expenditure. Mr. DeFelice felt this was an example of how concerned the District is about expending funds.   Selectman Headley said that he agreed about the buses and propane refueling station. Selectman Headley expressed additional concerns about an expenditure to store desks in a temperature controlled environment.   Mr. Cancio-Bello said that he recalled that furniture needed to be switched in order to facilitate social distancing. Mr. DeFelice clarified that the storage was for tables used in some of the classrooms. Tables from the middle school were being stored on the stage other items needed to be stored elsewhere. Mr. Cancio-Bello recalled that there was some support for using storage containers but there were concerns about the equipment being damaged in storage. Mr. Fleury (the facilities manager) recommended a controlled environment based on a previous experience. Selectman Headley observed that some expenses, such as the buses made sense, and others should be explored for opportunities for savings. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that he would follow up on the matter with the facilities manager and get back to the Select Board. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that transportation to storage was an additional cost area that needed to be considered.


Selectman Curless asked whether negotiations for salaries and benefits were planned for this year. Mr. Cancio-Bello replied that this was done recently. Selectman Curless asked whether anything was raised and noted that people who pay their taxes do not get raises and that he hoped that the school board took that into account. Selectman Curless added that Select Boards were faced with taking properties from people who could not pay their taxes and that they did not want to do that. Select Board Curless advised that Sutton had asked all departments to attempt to cut their budgets by 10%. He asked whether the district had made a similar effort. Mr. Cancio-Bello reiterated that he was not involved in this negotiating process but he had been in the past, and it was a very intense process. The school did its utmost to hold the line. Mr. Cancio-Bello noted that it was important the schools did not lose great teachers to nearby schools that offered better compensation.   Selectman Curless said that furniture could have been marked so that students do not sit there. Mr. Cancio-Bello discussed the many variables of classroom size. Mr. Cancio-Bello emphasized the amount of work that was done to make in-school classes possible and commended the district on their efforts. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that he would look into the decision making process regarding the furniture and get back to the Select Board.


Robert DeFelice, KRSD School Board Member and Sutton Budget Committee Chair, complimented Mr. Cancio-Bello on his work on the propane buses.   Mr. DeFelice expressed surprise that there was so much conversation regarding the refueling station when school athletic facilities received funding from surplus. Mr. DeFelice noted that the Principal from the Middle School drilled down on the budget on a line item basis which took a lot of work. Mr. Cancio-Bello agreed and noted that this is an ongoing process throughout the District. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that Mr. LeBouef was standardizing the budget throughout the district. Mr. Cancio-Bello complimented the administrator from Sutton Central on her budgeting efforts. Staffing at New London was also discussed. Mr. DeFelice brought up home schooling within the District and noted that the number went up this year. Mr. Cancio Bello provided the following home school statistics: High School – 11; Middle School – 27; Sutton -1; Simonds – 12; New London – 31; and Bradford – 8. Mr. Cancio-Bello observed that there are 90 homeschoolers throughout the District. This is a higher number than in the past. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that these numbers also are subject to change. Many parents who chose homeschooling did not understand that they could do in-home education with a teacher. Parents are switching to at home remote learning, and it is unknown at this time where the home school population is going to end up. Mr. DeFelice said that the latest budget iteration was not horrendous. The largest increases were for personnel. Mr. Cancio-Bello reviewed personnel costs, Retirement was $733,000; Health Benefits, $553,000; Wages, 483,000. Mr. Cancio-Bello also noted that food service operating costs went down $90,000; utilities and property insurance went down $160,000 and out-of-district costs went down $350,000 – however that will need to be adjusted based on recent changes in out-of-district placements. Mr. DeFelice said the Board did a good job with the costs that they can control. Mr. Cancio-Bello noted that outside of the contractual negotiations and retirement, the only thing that has gone up is transportation and federal costs. There was an increase of about $60,000, but there was approximately $550,000 in reductions.   Mr. DeFelice discussed the correlation between teachers and students, noting that attendance has gone down throughout the state.   The current student population was discussed. The annual student population numbers will be coming out in October. The teacher to student ratio was discussed. Mr. DeFelice spoke about over staffing vs. underutilization. Mr. Cancio-Bello discussed variations in student population over time. Mr. DeFelice noted that there is migration to the area due to COVID.


Selectman Wright asked a procedural question regarding the propane buses. Mr. Cancio-Bello explained that some of the leg work was done before going to Committee because everyone was so busy with COVID. The propane bus issue originated from a new Decarbonization Committee and was reviewed by the Transportation Committee subsequent to the presentation at the School Board.


Selectman Wright questioned the amount of management in the District. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that the SAU had only one clerk. Mr. Cancio-Bello said that District personnel are working night and day due to the pandemic. Mr. Cancio-Bello discussed how individual efforts result in savings for the District. Selectman Wright thanked Mr. Cancio-Bello for his presentation and for fielding the questions of the Board.


The minutes from September 14, 2020 were approved as corrected. The Board reviewed and approved the following manifests:


VENDOR MANIFEST:  $48,915.06


The Board reviewed and approved the following building permits:

                Wilmot & LaMott, 02-716-473, Route 114, for an addition

Doyle Shariff, 08-840-190, Baker Hill Road – for a deck addition and extension of roof.



The Board reviewed the following questions from Sutton Free Library regarding management:

Assuming the Town continues to provide payroll administrative support and the Library Board of Trustees provides the other financial services (e.g., A/P):

Confirm which services the Town would purchase on behalf of the Library (to get a lower cost) and then be reimbursed by the Trustees. Utilities: heating, electricity, phone, security, IT services, etc.

Will the town still cover insurance: Town’s property and liability insurance? Will the Town continue to insure the Library building (outside and inside walls) and contents against fire and property damage? (For example: Who would be responsible for damages if the new bathroom leaked?)

Is the Town agreeing to pay for the Library annual audit?

Will the Town continue to pay for maintenance services to the building and grounds? (furnace, ac, roof, etc.)

Will the Library continue to participate in the Town’s employee benefits, health insurance and training programs at no additional costs to the Library?

Will the Trustees need to be bonded? How does this happen and who will pay for it? Is there currently some sort of Directors and Officers liability insurance covering the Library Trustees? Will the Trustees need some sort of Directors and Officers liability insurance? Who will pay for it?

Will the Trustees still have access to Town Counsel? (liability, insurance…)

How will the Library’s next year operating budget be presented at Town Meeting? As it is currently, line item in Town’s general municipal operations, or warrant article?

Will the Library’s budget be automatically adjusted for the initial increase in needed funds to take over their accounts receivable/bookkeeping? (e.g., financial software purchase and subscription (e.g., QuickBooks), bookkeeper hours, additional office supplies (e.g., paper, envelopes, pc toner), and postage.

Phillips explained that everything would be pretty much the same as to services currently provided in terms of utility costs. The Town would continue to pay for liability insurance. The library is included in the annual audit. There isn’t a separate charge unless there are consulting costs for accounting training. Benefits for the library are up to the Trustees. Any additional personnel administration costs would need to be budgeted for. Maintenance would be handled in the same way. The Town bonds officials as required by law under their liability policy. The library will have access to Counsel like the other departments. Departments using Counsel going through the Select Board just like the other departments. The library’s budget would be a line item. The only difference is that the library would be accounting for functions within the line item. Phillips felt that the library could handle their bookkeeping with QuickBooks. Supplies would need to be budgeted for.


There was a discussion regarding how the budget topic came up and who initiated the discussion. Mr. DeFelice explained that maintenance would function similar to a tenant/landlord arrangement and that the town would be responsible for building items. The library would be responsible for allocating their appropriations and accounting for it. Selectman Curless noted that this was late in the year to make changes to the budget process. Selectman Curless made a motion that no changes be made to the budgetary process for the library for 2021. Selectman Headley seconded the motion. It was noted that changes could be made for the following year. Mr. DeFelice suggested doing a hybrid looking at both and having the library present in both formats. Mr. DeFelice noted that the vote for the Town would be the same.   Select Curless said that budget presentations are beginning soon. Ms. Vierzen indicated that the Library was responding to the Select Board’s presentation and the need for independence. It was noted that the choice was up to the library. Mr. DeFelice supported doing a hybrid approach. Ms. Vierzen thought the library had a desire to go independent, but they needed to clarify the rules in order to develop a budget.   Mr. Headley said that the impetus for the change was in response to the library’s trustees concerns regarding classification of appropriations.   Mr. DeFelice noted that the question may have evolved because of the level of competency the library trustees had shown and it was apparent that the Trustees could easily take over their own books. Thus the option was presented for consideration. In years past, the Trustees had asked the town to take over the library’s accounts payble. Selectman Curless made a motion to table the question until the Trustees had an opportunity to decide how they wanted to approach the budget. Selectman Headley seconded the motion. The motion passed by a unanimous affirmative vote.


The Board will pass the information along to the library, and the decision would be up to the Trustees. Mr. DeFelice said that he thought the library was looking for a letter of understanding. Mr. DeFelice clarified that if they were looking for something like new software, it would be a separate warrant article. When it was something over and beyond, it would be a separate warrant article just as it was for other departments. The library would not be presenting their operating budget at Town Meeting. Ms. Vierzen emphasized that the library just wanted to be clear on what is involved.


The Board issued a letter to Christopher Stotler advising that the clean up of their property was scheduled to begin on October 5, 2020 or thereafter.



The Board discussed a request by Kelsie Dalton to scan preserved documents for use in research and exhibits. Selectman Curless noted that as long as there was insurance coverage in the event of damage. The preservation could be done under the supervision of Jack Noon or the Town Clerk. Selectman Headley made a motion to approve the request of Kelsie Dalton to preserve documents under the supervision of the Town Clerk or Jack Noon for historical purposes. Selectman Curless seconded the motion which passed by a unanimous affirmative vote.


The Board reviewed a request to provide additional insurance for employees from Aflac. It was noted that employees could obtain this type of insurance.   Employees can be provided with the contact information for this policy.


The Board noted that a number of concerns have been raised regarding the political signage that is being placed on the island at the intersection of Village and Main Street. The question has been referred to Counsel. Counsel has requested further information regarding ownership of the island. Any action was deferred until further follow up with Counsel. Selectman Headley observed that there appears to be political sign placement violations throughout town. Selectman Curless felt the Town should develop a policy regarding placement of political signage on town property.



The Board noted receipt of the weekly DES drought update.


The Board noted receipt of the KRSD Agenda and Minutes.


There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:41 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Elly Phillips

Town Administrator