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Minutes of Town Board Meetings

Minutes of 3/15/2018 APPROVED

March 28th, 2018

Town of Carroll Building Committee Meeting Minutes
March 15, 2018 @ 9:00 a.m.
Carroll Town Hall
Members present: Tadd Bailey, Mike Finn, John Gardiner, Brad Houston, Susan Kraabel, Janet Nelson, Michelle Palys, Terry Penner, Lois Pesman, David Scalley, Imre Szauter, and Rena Vecchio
Professional staff present: Allan Clark
Guests present: Michael Gooden, Kelly Trammell
The Building Committee (the “Committee”) meeting began at 9:05 a.m. and was recorded.
Attendees stood and recited The Pledge of Allegiance.
An agenda was distributed and a sign-in sheet was routed around.
Attendees introduced themselves.
The Mar. 1st regular meeting draft minutes were discussed. John Gardiner made a motion, seconded by Janet Nelson, to approve the minutes as written. The motion passed unanimously.
Imre Szauter opened a discussion on the Mar. 13th town vote. Attendees expressed shock at the outcome of Article 2.
Terry Penner asked about voter participation. Imre Szauter reported that 265 voters cast ballots, comprised of 26 absentee ballots and 239 in-person ballots. Based on 605 registered voters, the turnout was almost 44%.
Feedback on the failure of Article 2 included:
 Project should have been separated into two smaller projects
 Dollar amount of the project was too high
 “NO” voters were motivated to kill the project
 No social media was used to distribute information
 Some voters believed the existing Town Hall would be torn down if the project was approved
 Some voters believed a larger fire station would result in the town trying to acquire a ladder truck
 Misinformation on the potential tax increase was abundant
Kelly Trammell suggested that future proposals might benefit from a work session shortly before town vote during which taxpayers could come in to Town Hall and have the actual tax impact on their property/properties calculated in real time. This could help dispel the misinformation that circulated about the tax implication.
Town of Carroll Building Committee Page 2 March 15, 2018
APPROVED March 26, 2018
Michelle Palys asked Allan Clark for his thoughts going forward.
Allan Clark responded that he believes towns that have adopted SB2 as their official ballot referenda are at a disadvantage when it comes to warrant articles such as Article 2. At traditional town meetings, warrant articles are debated and there are opportunities to immediately address concerns, questions and misinformation prior to an actual vote. That does not occur in SB2 towns. Lower attendance at first session (deliberative session) and the nearly 5-week delay until second session (town vote) allows misinformation to be spread and reduces the incentive for those in favor of an article to turn out and vote.
Allan Clark stated that he believes the snowstorm had an impact on voter turnout, particularly among those who were inclined to vote in favor of Article 2. He observed that some percentage of “NO” votes would have occurred regardless of any efforts to appease the voter; others voted “NO” because of misinformation they obtained from unreliable sources.
Allan Clark mentioned that interest rates and construction costs will continue to increase, so even if the same proposal was placed on next year’s warrant, it will cost more. In the meantime, the town will continue to spend operational and maintenance funds on energy-inefficient buildings and the lease and taxes on the police station building.
Allan Clark recommended that folks take a “time out” to reflect and evaluate what occurred before rushing ahead to restart the process. He suggested gathering feedback from everyone willing to speak on the topic, then regroup in a few months to discuss how to proceed.
Attendees discussed requesting a recount on Article 2.
Imre Szauter explained how the absentee ballots were processed during the election on Mar. 13th.
Imre Szauter also explained the process by which the vote tabulator machine was certified before the election, using sample ballots and memory cards that come with the machine. He stated that he (as assistant moderator) and Becki Pederson (town clerk) followed the verification process to the letter and signed off that the machine functioned as expected.
Imre Szauter outlined post-election activities, including the manual counting of write-ins on the candidate ballots.
Anticipating he might be called out of the meeting, Tadd Bailey stated that while he understood Allan Clark’s suggestion of waiting a few months before taking further action, he also felt separating the project into two smaller pieces might make it more acceptable. He offered that building a new police and fire department building first, then returning at a later date with a new Town Hall proposal, might increase the chances of voter acceptance.
David Scalley echoed Allan Clark’s suggestion of pausing before charging ahead again.
Michelle Palys asked if the Committee should prepare and mail a fact sheet to registered voters, highlighting possible reasons for Article 2’s failure.
Town of Carroll Building Committee Page 3 March 15, 2018
APPROVED March 26, 2018
Rena Vecchio endorsed pausing before restarting any Committee efforts, especially so that residents don’t perceive the Select Board and the Committee as trying to shove this proposal down voters’ throats.
Rena Vecchio recognized Michael Gooden’s efforts at the transfer station on Tuesday, Mar. 6th and Saturday, Mar. 10th, for speaking with potential voters, distributing copies of his Coos County Democrat Reader’s Forum letter, and the Committee brochure.
Attendees discussed the voter turnout, highlighting that by 12:30 p.m., 136 voters had already cast their ballots in person. Voter turnout after 4:30 p.m. was very low, with only 20 people voting in person. The snow storm, which began in earnest around 10:00 a.m., likely impacted the low late-afternoon turnout.
Michael Gooden commented that some people he spoke with outside the transfer station the two days he was there were unfamiliar with Article 2. He suggested making copies of the town’s annual report available, as the results of the deliberative session (with all warrant articles) are contained in the annual report.
Even though the Committee attempted to provide each registered voter with a brochure by US mail, attendees believed that some recipients either threw away or failed to read it.
Lois Pesman stated that the “Vote Yes on Article 2” signs may have been helpful, but there were still people who knew nothing about it or the project. She suggested future campaigns include a few words of explanation on signs like this. It is important to reiterate that the signs were paid for by a private citizen, not town funds.
Terry Penner observed that the Committee went into the deliberative session playing defense, and when there were no questions, comments, or debate on Article 2, most Committee members felt there was minimal opposition to the project and the warrant article.
John Gardiner suggested that future project campaigns should include endorsements from people, organizations and businesses, stating why they support the project.
John Gardiner also observed that the number of abandoned private properties may be discouraging residents from supporting local government initiatives such as this project because they don’t see the value of spending tax dollars on infrastructure in a decaying community.
David Scalley stated that issues such as decaying private properties should be brought to the attention of the Select Board, but attendance at regular Select Board meetings suggests there is little interest in holding those property owners accountable for the condition of their structures.
Michelle Palys offered her perspective as a business owner about what growing and thriving businesses mean to the town’s tax base. Commercial properties pay property taxes just like residential property owners, offsetting a portion of what homeowners would have to pay otherwise. As businesses grow and new ones open, the town’s valuation increases, driving down
Town of Carroll Building Committee Page 4 March 15, 2018
APPROVED March 26, 2018
each person’s share of the tax burden. Especially for perspective business owners, a surplus of abandoned and derelict private properties within the community reduces the incentive to establish the Town of Carroll as their new location.
Imre Szauter reviewed the Mar. 1st tour of the Franconia Public Safety building hosted by Allan Clark. John Trammell arranged for a Mount Washington shuttle bus to transport visitors to/from Franconia; five attendees took advantage of the opportunity to visit this energy-efficient, low maintenance facility.
Imre Szauter outlined the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) grant information session that he and Allan Clark attended in Plymouth on Mar. 6th.
Under other issues and updates, Imre Szauter:
 Reported on the Mar. 12th Committee report to the Select Board.
 Referenced a 2018-03-07 Coos County Democrat Reader’s Forum letter by Michael Gooden titled, “To Town of Carroll, Twin Mountain and Bretton Woods voters, please vote yes on Article 2”.
 Referenced a 2018-03-07 Coos County Democrat Reader’s Forum letter by Rena Vecchio titled, “One voice in Carroll”.
 Referenced an email from Allan Clark to the Committee titled, “Final Thoughts”.
 Referenced an anonymous letter titled, “Dear Fellow Tax Payer”, that was being distributed by a non-resident on Mar. 10th.
 Reported account balances as:
o $0.00 spent [$2,500.00 (100%) remaining] in the Committee miscellaneous expenses fund.
o $36,658.36 spent [$23,341.64 (38.9%) remaining] in the warrant article authorization fund.
Terry Penner inquired about the warrant article account. He asked if the Committee would take some time off and later access those funds for future work or seek the Select Board’s guidance. Imre Szauter asked to delay discussion on that until near the end of the meeting.
Imre Szauter summarized current action items:
1) Post approved Mar. 1st meeting minutes on the town website and Google Drive (Imre Szauter).
Imre Szauter opened a discussion on the future of the Committee and the 2017 warrant article that authorized $60,000 for the Committee’s work. He reviewed some of the ideas presented throughout the meeting, including taking a break, inviting opponents of the project to join the Committee, and whether the warrant article funds will be available for future Committee work.
During the ensuing discussion, Terry Penner asked if the decision of the Select Board is for the Committee to restart work after a break and should the Committee decide to rework or break up the project into smaller pieces, could those funds still be used.
Town of Carroll Building Committee Page 5 March 15, 2018
APPROVED March 26, 2018
Rena Vecchio suggested checking with town counsel and/or the Department of Revenue Administration (NH DRA) to determine if the town has the legal authority to access those funds in the future.
Kelly Trammell asked if the voters or the Selectmen are the agents to expend from those funds. David Scalley answered that the Selectmen are the agents to expend from those funds. Kelly Trammell suggested that with that authority, the Selectmen may authorize money from the New Land & Buildings Capital Reserve Fund to be used for future Committee work without voter approval.
Susan Kraabel made a motion, seconded by Mike Finn, to recommend to the Select Board that they check with either town counsel or the DRA whether the town has the authority to continue accessing the 2017 voter-approved warrant article funds for future Committee work. The vote in favor was unanimous.
During discussion on the future of the Committee, Janet Nelson stated that she would like to see the Committee continue working after a brief time-off period.
Rena Vecchio stated that she would like to see the Committee continue working with the entire proposal, as splitting it into separate parts may result in the administrative services portion never getting approved. She further stated that the current proposal presented the opportunity for repurposing of the current Town Hall, a building to which many residents hold an emotional attachment.
Michelle Palys stated that she believes the Committee should continue and stay with the current proposed project as a whole.
Mike Finn offered that he believes a majority of residents support the proposed project and that was demonstrated by the closeness of the vote.
Lois Pesman stated that she believes additional efforts to educate voters will lead to better results in the future. A number of people she spoke with simply did not know what the warrant article was about. She said a key point should be the ongoing operational and maintenance costs of our current facilities.
Michelle Palys suggested hosting some evening Committee meetings as a way to attract and encourage participation by residents who work during the day.
Allan Clark reminded attendees that the Committee accomplished what is was charged to do by the Select Board – develop a plan to address the aging and inefficient town facilities that house the police department, the fire department, and administrative services. The Committee was not charged with campaigning on behalf of the project or getting out the vote. He stated that a break of perhaps two months would be beneficial for everyone.
Town of Carroll Building Committee Page 6 March 15, 2018
APPROVED March 26, 2018
Allan Clark further stated that he believes the Select Board should decide what they want to do, schedule a meeting to gather public input, and that they should be the ones to give the Committee new authorization to go forward.
Allan Clark offered that he believes the Committee fulfilled its obligation to the Select Board and has ceased to exist.
Kelly Trammell suggested that David Scalley, as the Select Board representative, start the conversation with the Select Board and report on the Committee’s discussion at this meeting.
Attendees concurred with Allan Clark’s suggestion to cease meeting as a Committee and turn to the Select Board for guidance on the future.
In order to bring the Committee’s work to an orderly conclusion, Imre Szauter offered to electronically distribute the draft minutes of this meeting to attendees for review and place a hardcopy in the Selectmen’s Office in Town Hall. There will be a space for each attendee to sign, date and check whether they 1) approve the minutes as written; 2) approve the minutes as amended (after making manual changes to the text); or 3) disapprove the minutes. If a majority of attendees approve the minutes as written, Imre Szauter will deliver the final (approved) minutes to the Select Board at their next regularly-scheduled meeting.
Imre Szauter polled attendees for any closing remarks.
David Scalley thanked the Committee for its work and encouraged attendees to attend Select Board meetings.
Allan Clark stated that he believes the Committee accomplished what it was charged to do and did a commendable job. He offered that he enjoyed his time working with the Committee and hopes the town will continue to move forward.
Imre Szauter concluded by stating that Allan Clark’s expertise and guidance have been instrumental in accomplishing our goals. Allan Clark’s dedication by making himself available at all hours of the day, every day, proves that he made the project a personal and professional priority. His monthly invoices for professional services didn’t come close to billing the town for his actual time investment in this project. We are grateful for his services and hope there is an opportunity to work with him again in the future.
Terry Penner made a motion, seconded by Mike Finn, to adjourn the meeting. The vote to adjourn was unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 10:44 a.m.
Minutes prepared by Imre Szauter.
Review and Approval: see next page