Date of Meeting:  Tuesday, August 11, 2020 @ 7:00 pm

Members Present Nancy Heckel (Chair); Jen Call; Diane Lander; Marcy Vierzen, Yvonne Howard, Betsy Anderson (Alternate), Elizabeth Geraghty (Library Director)

Note: This meeting was conducted on ZOOM for all present. 

Public Present: Bob DeFelice (Sutton Budget Committee Chair)

During Select Board Part of Meeting via Phone: Robert Wright (Select Board Chair ), Bill Curless (Select Board Member)


Roll Call, Introduction of guests

The Sutton Free Library Board of Trustees (SFL BOT) meeting was called to order at 7:18 pm by Board Chair Nancy Heckel and roll taken. Town of Sutton Budget Committee Chair Bob DeFelice was present for this meeting by call-in. No members of any households of Trustees or other members of the public were present within listening of this meeting. 

Sutton Select Board Appointment

Select Board Chair Bob Wright and Select Board Member Bill Curless called in for this portion of the Trustee meeting. 

Members of the Select Board had previously indicated that they would like the library to take over their appropriated library budget, per the understanding of the RSAs by the Select Board. The attendance of Select Board members to this SFL BOT meeting was for further clarification of what this might entail.

Wright began by noting the town is guided by the RSAs and that, according to: Chapter 264, 2008: SB377 “The town will function in accordance with state regulations.” He then referenced the following RSAs: RSA 31:25; RSA 564-B:9-901; RSA 564-B:9-906; RSA 292-B:2V-D (later corrected to RSA 292-B:2V(d) by Board Member Diane Lander). 

Wright noted the following: The Library budget in its totality is put together utilizing taxes from the town and from additional sources. In 2001, the operating budget for the library was significantly smaller than it is now; since then, the library budget has grown significantly, and Wright noted that the library has been brought to life through the efforts of those involved. 

Curless noted that approximately 20-30 years ago, the library ran its own budget completely. Curless felt that it is in the best interest of both the Library and the town for the SFL BOT to manage their own budget. 

DeFelice noted that when the town took over the SFL budget, SFL BOT was less active than they currently are and were uncomfortable managing the budget. The SFL budget at that point was significantly lower than it currently is; and things were falling through the cracks. DeFelice stated that there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Town of Sutton and SFL BOT, noting that the town would manage the budget until the library had the ability to manage it once again. DeFelice stated that with the library back on its feet, it makes sense for the SFL BOT to manage their finances once again. Heckel questioned if there is an actual written MOU between the town and the library, and DeFelice responded that, though this MOU has been referenced on multiple occasions, he has not yet been able to locate it. 

Board Member Jen Call asked that if SFL runs financially independently, would they also be responsible for payroll. DeFelice responded that in the interpretation of the law, library employees are not employees of the town, and would therefore be paid independently of the town. He advised that Quickbooks, a financial program, makes this very simple, and that payroll, taxes, and other features are built into it. 

Heckel noted that with the town and library Tax ID numbers the same, it would be confusing to separate out the payroll. Most of the 35 libraries surveyed by the SFL BOT use the town for payroll. 

Wright advised that the historical reason for keeping the library and the town separate is because of the important role that a library plays in a town in terms of information. Separation of a library and a town allows a library to deem what is appropriate in terms of which materials it carries and offers to its citizens and patrons. With this separation, a town cannot decree which books or materials may or may not be carried; the trustees are entrusted with these decisions. Separation of library and town allow for the flow and freedom of information and prevent concepts akin to censorship and “book burning”. 

Library Director Elizabeth Geraghty noted that the New Hampshire Library Trustee Association (NHLTA) interprets these RSAs differently than the Sutton Selectboard. Wright responded that the Selectboard interprets the RSAs as they do because they prefer to err on the side of caution. Heckel noted that with the majority of libraries surveyed by the SFL BOT, with limited employees, the town does their payroll. DeFelice and Curless each suggested that there be a conversation with town counsel and auditor to clarify further their interpretation of the law regarding separation of town and library. Curless noted the importance of determining which practice follows the law. DeFelice suggested that these conversations are important, so that whatever is decided goes into effect by January 1, 2021. 

DeFelice asked about other concerns that the SFL BOT have if the town and library are separated out. Heckel asked the following questions, and noted the following points: How are things like insurance being covered? Would the library be able to take advantage of the reduced rate heating plan which the town gets? DeFelice responded that the separation of town and library is a procedural matter, and not a cost cutting one. Wright asked the SFL BOT to compile a list of questions to send in an email to Town Administrator Elly Phillips so that the Select Board can review. The two benefits of this would be that 1.) The Selectmen must respond to the questions in written form and 2) There is a permanent written record noting questions asked and responses.  DeFelice asked to be copied in on this email. DeFelice also stated that the select board and budget committee will defend the library budget and can demonstrate the reduction to the town on expenses if those expenses are now showing up on the library budget. 

DeFelice noted that the library building belongs to the town; the library would “rent” the building from the town, and the town would take care of the electricity, which the library would pay the town for. The library would be able to continue to take advantage of reduced town rates. DeFelice noted that the town has insurance on the outside of the library building but isn’t sure about the inside of the library building. Are the contents of this building, such as books and materials, insured? DeFelice noted that the intent of this is to make this easier for the library. 

Heckel noted that the SFL BOT are a rotating board of volunteers who are a mixed bag of people who sometimes lack certain skills, such as bookkeeping. She noted that some libraries hire a bookkeeper to take care of the finances; this would be another cost which would add to the total library budget. Geraghty questioned the notion that separating out the town and the library makes things easier. DeFelice responded that the library would be able to control its own funds and would not need to go before the budget committee when moving funds around or making requests to increase line items. Geraghty responded that the library does not go before the budget committee to move funds around at this time, and has been under the impression that the library has a good working relationship with the town, and that the way things have been working up to this point seems to work well in terms of the library perspective. DeFelice said that if $2,000 is moved around from one category to another, the town may question the necessity of the original category the following year. Geraghty asked if the library provides a single number for a budget, and DeFelice said that the budget would be approved as is or may be decreased. He suggested that if the budget is decreased, a trustee can stand up during the town meeting and request an increase, which may be approved at that point. 

Wright noted that if the way the library is currently functioning is found to be legal under the current RSAs, the library may continue on with its current practices. If the interpretation of the RSAs say that then we do not have to change a thing, then the town is fine with things continuing on as they are. If the interpretation of the RSAs by a third person review determines that there must be separation of library and town, then practices must be reviewed, and changes made accordingly. 

DeFelice noted that there is a very good relationship between the library, the town, the budget committee and the select board. These boards are also filled with people who rotate in and out, and though current practices work well in the present, whatever is in place should work regardless of the people on boards, and that is the goal of this review. 

Lander asked who will have the ultimate say in the interpretation of the RSAs. 

Wright said that the Sutton Select Board is ruled by the town attorney’s interpretation of the RSA. If the RSA is interpreted that the board has to do “x”, then the Board will consider that a legal requirement. If the attorney says that the decision may or may not be made by the select board, at that point the select board will not make that decision and will defer to the SFL BOT to make that decision. The goal of the select board is to be in compliance with the RSAs; and board members do not have an opinion on this matter beyond that goal.  

Call asked what is done with funds left over at the end of the year. Wright responded that there is a concept called Raise and Appropriate; this is the budget. Typically, funds not spent are returned to the General Fund. Wright deferred to DeFelice on this regarding the library specifically, which controls its own budget. The library would have to meet with the town adjuster and justify any additional funds. If any funds are left over, those funds would go back to the town. If the library runs its finances independently, it is not accountable to the town regarding its budget; though it must report how money is spent, regardless of where the money originates. 

Wright noted that SFL BOT would have full exposure to the response of town counsel to all questions asked. Heckel offered to send protocols and practices from the state to the select board to be reviewed by town counsel. Board Alternate Betsy Anderson noted that the first thing that should happen is for town counsel to interpret the RSAs. Wright noted that questions and information on this matter would be recorded on the agenda for the select board meeting on the subsequent Monday.  

Move to a Non-Public Session:

Call made a motion to move to a non-public session, per RSA 91-A:3 (1: when divulgence of the information would likely adversely affect the reputation of any person, other than a member of the board itself.) The motion was seconded by Board Member Marcy Vierzen. The motion passed with a unanimous vote in the affirmative. Heckel noted that with this motion, the board move into a non-public session. 

The Board decided to come out of non-public session. 

Heckel made a motion to seal the minutes of the non-public session of this meeting per RSA 91-A:3; Board Member Yvonne Howard seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously in the affirmative. 


Geraghty noted there is no new correspondence.

Geraghty asked DeFelice about the best way to contact him; DeFelice advised that email correspondence is the best way to reach him. 


Financial/Treasurer’s Report

Heckel noted that in order to add Lander to the Sutton Free Library trustee bank account, minutes from a SFL BOT meeting will need to be brought to the bank for proof that Lander is a trustee/treasurer of the library. Once this has been done, Lander may go to the bank and sign the appropriate paperwork for access. 

Building and Grounds Update

iWave Air Ionizer and Dehumidifier

Geraghty was contacted by Phillips, who noted that Heritage Plumbing would be in Sutton to quote out an iWave air ionizer, effective in preventing the spread of viruses, and asked if the library would also like a quote on this. Phillips advised Geraghty that funding for the Ionizer may be available through the GOEFFER Grant. If not, Geraghty wondered if funding could come from the Building Emergency Fund. DeFelice responded that because: 1.) We are in a state of emergency; 2.) Because this is nothing we could have planned for and 3.) Because this helps with a health issue and 4.) This is for the wellbeing of everyone in town, this would likely get approved. DeFelice suggested that we vote on this matter this evening, due to funding concerns. The cost for the air ionizer came in just over $2,000. 

Geraghty noted that Heritage Plumbing provided a quote to replace the two free standing dehumidifiers that must be emptied daily and uses a considerable amount of electricity. The cost to put in a new system would be $4,837.50, which includes a $540 discount. 

DeFelice suggested that there were funds available in the Repairs and Maintenance of Government Buildings in Town that might work for the iWave Ionizer for the library. DeFelice suggested that the library get a second quote for the dehumidifier system. 

Heckel invited a motion for the purchase of the iWave. Vierzen made a motion to move forward with the purchase of the iWave for the library, not to exceed $2,500; seconded by Howard. The motion carried unanimously in the affirmative. 

Library Ramp: 

Call noted that she had run into Wally Baker in days prior to this meeting, and Baker had expressed concern about the ramp. DeFelice spoke with the select board in July about looking for a bond for the ramp. 

Committee Reports

Geraghty asked DeFelice about the line item referring to Building Alarm and Safety on the budget report. DeFelice noted that this line could have been there in error, and will look into this further. 

DeFelice noted that there should be a line in the budget for legal expenses for SFL.

Lander asked about the insurance for the library building, which is for the outside of the building, the inside of the building, and the contents. DeFelice responded that the town currently covers the insurance for the outside of the building, and the inside walls of the building. The library should take care of the contents within the building. Regarding the new library bathroom, it is necessary to determine who covers it, and what the insurance covers, as a water leak from the new bathroom could impact the contents of the library. 

Library Director Report

Geraghty noted that virtual story times are going very well, and that she and Assistant Librarian Kristin Snow will continue virtual story times through the fall, and perhaps through the winter. Geraghty was able to use a $500 grant which had been granted to the Friends of Sutton Free Library for summer reading to replenish art supplies. 

Regarding automation of the library, Geraghty has ordered all necessary items, and automation will be getting off the ground shortly. Geraghty noted that, even with the purchase of a second scanner, the total expenditure for automation is less than originally planned for all of automation.  

Friends of Sutton Free Library Report

The Friends of Sutton Free Library have halted meetings due to COVID until 2021, so this may remain off future agendas until then.  


Matters which will be reviewed at future SFL BOT meetings due to the late hour of this meeting are: What to do with the books being held storage, the Friends of Sutton Free Library, Review of MOU, Budget, Master Plan, Evaluations and, if Betsy is available at the next meeting, a discussion of the Pandemic Interim Service Plan.  

Review of July 14, 2020 Draft Minutes

Geraghty requested permission for the minutes be sent to her prior to being reviewed by the SFL BOT to be checked for copy editing corrections. This will save time in reviewing the content of minutes at SFL BOT meetings in the future. 

Minutes from the July 14th meeting were reviewed and corrections made. Heckel invited a motion to approve with revisions the minutes from the July 14th meeting. Lander made a motion to approve the minutes, seconded by Howard. The motion carried unanimously in the affirmative. 

In Closing…

Regarding the question of separating out the town and the library financially; Lander recommended that someone contact the NH Municipal Association (NHMA) which is composed of lawyers who take care of municipal areas and ask them if it is illegal for the town to do the finances for the library. Lander also recommended that we contact NHLTA and NHMA and ask them their interpretation of the RSAs noted by the selectmen. Anderson recommended that trustees do their homework and ascertain their own interpretation through non-town counsel rather than to acquiesce to what the counsel for the town of Sutton determines. Call noted that in no area of the RSAs regarding the town and the library is the word “shall” used. 

It was agreed by SFL BOT that Sutton Select Board meetings would be attended by library board members as follows:

Mon, Aug 17: Lander
Mon, Aug 24: Howard
Mon, Aug 31: Heckel (Diane Lander can be back up if Heckel ends up being unavailable)

The next SFL BOT meeting will be scheduled for Tuesday, September 1 at 7pm.

Lander made a motion to adjourn the meeting, and this was seconded by Call. The motion carried unanimously in the affirmative. Heckel ended the meeting at 9:51 pm.