Category Archives: SELECTBOARD

Withdrawal Informational Meeting – 2/13/20

TOWN OF WALPOLE

MEETING OF THE SELECTBOARD

CHARLESTOWN WITHDRAWAL INFORMATIONAL MEETING

FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Selectboard Present:Steven Dalessio (Chair); Peggy Pschirrer; Cheryl Mayberry

CALL TO ORDER:  Mr. Dalessio called this Meeting of the Selectboard to order at 5:55 PM.  This is a Charlestown Withdrawal Informational Meeting.  They plan to look at the Town of Walpole only.  It is all about “IFs” at this time.      

Mr. Dalessio opened the meeting to comments on this subject.  They want to hear all the opinions that are out there from thpeople attending this meeting.  He would like to talk about the pre-K and special ed.  They will be using the same curriculum that the SAU establishes; however it probably will change.  The Withdrawal will allow teachers to move around the district.  Some Charlestown teachers could bump Walpole teachers.  That is a possibility and could have an impact on the elementary school.  We will see the biggest impact at the high school.  If Charlestown elects not to send their students to FMRHS, there would be significant changes and an impact.  Walpole will continue to pay their fair share of improvements.  Walpole has always held their elementary and high school students in high regard and will continue to do so.  In the first (transition) year,$825,000+ will be added to Walpole’s School taxes.  Members of the five district towns met with Mr. Jim Fenn of the SAU for about four hours and went over the budget line-by-line.  Mr. Fenn took some costs out and put some costs in.  The 2nd, 3rd, 4thyears costs are unknown.  If Charlestown forms their own SAUcosts will probably change again.  We will go from a single district SAU to a multi-district SAU.  Right now we are doing one audit for the entire district but it would go to two audits.  Additional reporting has to be done including reports to the State.  There are some items in the budget that cannot be reduced if one town leaves.  It would get divided by four towns.  We do not know what will happen if this withdrawal is successful.  The first thing that has to happen is that Charlestown has to pass this by a simple majority of 50%.  If Charlestown fails, it does not matter what the other towns do.  If it fails in the other four towns but passes in Charlestown, they have the right to have another vote taken; Appeal the first vote.  No one has looked at the second year which is a big “IF”.  

Mr. Dalessio opened the meeting to comments and/or questions.

Mr. Steve Varone said there is a lot to discuss about this.  Fall Mountain is a one district SAU.  He referenced RSA Chapter 194-C – Section 194-C:9, School Administrative Units – Budget and RSA Chapter 194-C – Section 194-C:8 – Weighted Voting.  They are subject to State law.  Charlestown is paying about one third of the SAU costs.  He spoke about the formula currently being used and how voting is done within the SAU.  

Mr. Bill Stahl, Walpole’s representative to the FMRSD Board, spoke about the FMRSD Board voting to not accept tuition for the Charlestown high school students.  Charlestown students currently in the high school will remain but no new students will be accepted; no freshman in the next school year.  Mr. Dalessio wanted everyone to know that the Town of Walpole is billed every month by the SAU.  It is currently paying $615,232/month.  

A resident asked why the Articles of Agreement are not changing.  Mr. Dalessio replied that if this vote passes, a change will have to be made to the Articles of Agreement. It will have to pass by 2/3rds majority vote.  

Jackie Ronning, teacher at the FMRHS, pointed out that they have a huge investment in the FMRSD.  All of this is being done by a small group of Charlestown residents with an agenda.  There are a lot of concerned Charlestown citizens.  The concern is for the children and their education which is critical.  

Mr. Phil Shaw has been around the FMRSD since it was formed.  This Withdrawal does not represent all of the Charlestown residents.  They do want a formula that they will be happy with and can live with but that has not happened.  Maybe set up a cooperative district?  He thinks this is what Charlestown is looking for rather than a withdrawal from the district.

A resident questioned what changes will there be at the high school for Walpole students if Charlestown withdraws.  Mr. Dalessio said there will be significant cuts at the high school but he does not know what they will be.  The School District Board would have to decide.

Mr. Dalessio advised the Walpole Selectboard has talked about options.  This would include running their own elementary school – Pre-K through 8th grade and then tuition out the High School student. No official research has been done.  

Mr. Stahl stated that if Charlestown stays in the district, he feels the FMRSD Board will do a complete study to get input from everyone and look at options with an open mind.  Our accreditation will be affected.

Mr. Kevin Hicks feels everybody’s taxes will increase.  We need to open up lines of communication to solve everybody’s issues.  The State is not giving us any more money for education but they keep mandating more improvements /changes.  We need to take this to the State to get them to help fund education.  All this will not be fixed tomorrow but we will not know until we try.  Let us work together to get this going.

Mr. Craig Vickers said getting together and communicating with the State is great.  The culture will be different if Charlestown leaves.  We will not have the same education.  A good education attracts people to the Town.  This is all about the kids.          

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Dalessio thanked everyone for attending this meeting.  He closed this Public Informational Meeting at 6:40 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Regina Borden, Recording Secretary

Broadband Hearing for Issuance of a Bond – 2/13/20

TOWN OF WALPOLE

MEETING OF THE SELECTBOARD

BROADBAND PROPOSED ISSUANCE OF A BOND

FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Selectboard Present:Steven Dalessio (Chair); Peggy Pschirrer; Cheryl Mayberry

Broadband Committee Present:   Paul Looney, Dick Hill

CALL TO ORDER:  Mr. Dalessio called this Public Meeting of the Selectboard on the Broadband Proposed Issuance of a Bond to order at 4:00 PM in the Walpole Town Hall.  This will be Article 2 on the Town Warrant.  He welcomed everyone and turned this meeting over to Mrs. Pschirrer who is the Selectboard liaison to the Broadband Committee.  

Mrs. Pschirrer introduced Mr. Paul Looney and Mr. Dick Hill, members of the Broadband Committee.  Mr. Rob Koester, Vice-President of Consumer Products of Consolidated Communications, was also present.  

PUBLIC MEETING – BROADBAND PROPOSED ISSUANCE OF A BOND:   Mr. Looney displayed the Summary page of the Broadband Committee’s PowerPoint presentation.  The goal is to get high speed internet to all residences in Walpole.  High Speed – True Broadband Speeds are (25 Mbps Down 3 Mbps Up).  Via fiber, it will be brought to the premises with speeds of up to 1000Mbps with high reliability.  The fiber is more reliable than the copper we now have.  The Bond will be for $1,856,100 for 20 years.  The Bond will be paid back with money the Town receives from Consolidated.  The fee to users will be $9.00/month in addition to their regular service fee.  There will be No Taxpayer Money and No Tax Increase.  Consolidated will pickup any fees not generated.  They feel confident they can sign up enough people so this is not a losing proposition for them.  Mr. Looney read Article 2:

ARTICLE 2:  To see if the town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of three million two hundred eighteen thousand five hundred sixty two dollars ($3,218,562) for the purpose of furnishing, constructing and installing facilities and equipment to make available to residential and business location in the Town of Walpole a “Fiber to the Premises” network by Consolidated Communications Enterprise Services, Inc. (“Consolidated”), with one million eight hundred fifty six thousand one hundred dollars ($1,856,100) of such sum to be raised through the issuance of bonds or notes, under and in compliance with the Municipal Finance Act, RSA 33:1, et seq, as amended; and one million three hundred sixty two thousand four hundred sixty two dollars ($1,362,462) of such sum as a donation from Consolidated; to authorize the Selectboard to apply for, obtain and accept federal, state or other aid, gifts and donations which may be available for said project and to comply with all laws applicable to said project; to authorize the Selectboard to issue, negotiate, sell and deliver said bonds and notes and to determine the rate of interest thereon and the maturity and other terms thereof and to authorize the Selectboard to take any other action or to pass any other vote relative thereto.

**2/3 ballot vote required**

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mrs. Pschirrer noted that when this comes up on March 14th, it will be the first item on the agenda.  This article was written by the Bond Bank attorney.  Our application will begin soon.  They are now collecting all the documents required.  If the Town fails to pass by a 2/3 vote, they will not go ahead with the Bond.

The question comes up about the Bond attorney; she will not be paid.  At Town Meeting this will be a secret vote.  Separate ballots will be given out and then collected.  In accordance with State law the results will not be announced for one hour so if someone should arrive late at Town Meeting, they will have the option to cast their ballot on this.  This will happen twice during this year’s Town Meeting.  The second secret vote will be Article 7 for the purchase of a police cruiser.  The amount of the Bond is $1,856,100.  Their concern is that people will stop reading Article 2 after the total sum of $3,218,562 is noted which is the total cost of the project.  The Town’s obligation will be paid, not with taxpayer money, but rather with user fees that total the $1,856,100.  Assuming this passes at Town Meeting, they will complete their application to the Bond Bank. The Bond will probably be sold in early June or July and they will have approved the contract with Consolidated.  When this is complete, the Town will own all the work that Consolidated is doing.  After 20 years decisions will be made as to whether to continue with Consolidated, operate it by the Town or issue a Request for Proposals and contract with someone else.  It will be a valuable asset.  We are excited about this.  The Selectboard called three public benefit meetings on Broadband services.  Some people have asked who will vote against it. We do not know the answer.  It will increase the value of properties.  We have enough people in Town who are under-served to do this project.  Senator Jay Kahn worked on this for about six years to get it through the legislature.  

Replying to a question from a resident, Mrs. Pschirrer said they will not be going out for other money other than the Bond.  

A resident asked what happens if you are a Comcast subscriber with a contract but here comes something that is better.  Mr. Koester responded there are a number of options.  If they think Consolidated services are better, they can move over or they can choose to stay with their existing provider.    

Replying to a question, Mrs. Pschirrer confirmed this is a taxable Bond.  About six other towns are working on this at the same time.    

Mrs. Pschirrer reported that one of the things they had to collect for the Bond Bank was the Town Charter.  Researchers in the Bond Bank office found a copy for us.  The Town Office now has a copy.  

Mr. Dalessio followed-up on a question from a resident.  There is a slim possibility that the Bond Bank is not successful in selling the Town’s Bond.  That is why there is language in the Article “to authorize the Selectboard to take any other action”.  They can look for other sources.  Mr. Looney said there are other alternatives for the Bond.  

Mrs. Pschirrer mentioned that we have to supply the Bond Bank with a copy of our budget and all mnutes and notices they posted.  It is quite detailed.  Mrs. Jodi Daigle in the Selectboard Office has been managing this file. The Town does not have any debt. This Bond is not considered debt under the legislation. It has to be paid back but does not impede our ability to borrow should the Town need to in the future.  

Mrs. Antonia Andreoli stated that all the minutes have been helpful.  She thanked everybody for the clarity and timeliness of the information.  Mrs. Pschirrer said there are six members on the Broadband Committee and they have worked very hard.  Mr. Dalessio said the Committee members provided a lot of detail in a short period of time.  

ADJOURNMENT:  There were no other questions or comments.  Mr. Dalessio closed this Public Meeting at 4:21 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Regina Borden, Recording Secretary

Budget Hearing – 2-12-20

TOWN OF WALPOLEm

MEETING OF THE SELECTBOARD

2020 ANNUAL BUDGET AND WARRANT ARTICLE HEARING

FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Selectboard Present:Steven Dalessio (Chair); Peggy Pschirrer; Cheryl Mayberry

CALL TO ORDER:  Mr. Dalessio called this 2020 Annual Budget and Warrant Article Hearing to order at 4:50 PM in the Walpole Town Hall.  He advised that Mrs. Sarah Downing, Manager of Administration, and Mr. Rich Kreissle, Manager of Finance, are also present.  

SUMMARY OF 2019 ACTIVITY:  Mr. Dalessio presented a recap of where the Town ended on December 31, 2019.  The operating budget for 2019 was $3,896,691.  Actual expenditures for 2019 were $3,724,696 (95.6%) for a difference of $171,995.  This money will go into the Unassigned Fund Balance.  It is used for future purchases so they do not have to go into the tax base for trucks, repairs on buildings, etc.  That account is now at about $1,700,000.  This year they will be asking the voters to approve using some of that money.  

EXPENDITURE COMPARISON SUMMARY:  The handout just distributed shows the increase in the operating budget, 2020 versus 2019, is 3.05%.  The bulk of the increases come from wages and benefits.  Health insurance went up about 10%; a 2% cost-of-living raise for all employees is included.  In the Police Department there was a part-time detective that retired; they have now made this a full-time position.  We wound up saving a considerable amount of money because they recalculated some salary lines.  It saved about 1% and was a positive step.  The Election line is higher because there are four elections this year.  A few building expenses have gone up like the elevator inspections, service contracts, etc.  That is a summary of the 2020 proposed budget.  A 3% increase is low compared to other towns around Walpole.  Mr. Dalessio opened the meeting to questions.  

A resident questioned the Highway & Streets line that shows an increase of $53,247 or 3.40% increase.  Mr. Dalessio explained this line is somewhat variable because of the over-time.  If they have a mild winter, they do not have as much over-time expenses.  Mr. Mike Rau, Road Agent, has done a very good job in controlling the cost of paving.  They have been saving a little here-and-there.  Any money left over goes into the Unassigned Fund Balance which could be used to reduce the property tax rate. Because Walpole’s tax rate is fairly low, the Selectboard chose to use the Unassigned Fund Balance for large capital equipment or repairs.  The State requires them to keep 7-to-10% in this fund all the time for emergencies.  Ms. Mayberry advised that when the balance gets to about 15% the State will usually start to wonder why the Town is not passing some funds back to the taxpayers.  Responding to a question on the decrease in the Recycling Center line, Mr. Dalessio noted it was because of a change in the mix of labor.  

A resident asked about the Welfare Vendor Payments.  Mr. Dalessio pointed out that the Town contracts this service to an outside source.  It is on an hourly basis.  They are estimating more hours will be needed as a couple of new areas have turned up.  Example:  When somebody dies without a family or are indigent we may have to pay for the cremation or burial.  

Mr. Dalessio reported the Selectboard usually starts the budget process in September and Mr. Kreissle develops a base line budget which is level funded.  They take a look at the bottom line. Then they schedule a oneday meeting at which they meet with each department manager.  They have to explain any increases for discretionary spending and justify why they have to increase their budgets.  They then go back to look at the numbers, make changes and meet with the department managers again.  Over time there will be changes like insurance numbers.  It is a streamlined process.  Of the budget, 56.30% is comprised of wages, benefits and payroll taxes.

WARRANT ARTICLES:

ARTICLE 2:  To see if the town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of three million two hundred eighteen thousand five hundred sixty two dollars ($3,218.562) for the purpose of furnishing, constructing and installing facilities and equipment to make available to residential and business locations in the Town of Walpole a “Fiber to the Premises” network by Consolidated Communications Enterprise Services, Inc. (“Consolidated”), with one million eight hundred fifty six thousand one hundred dollars ($1,856,100) of such sum to be raised through the issuance of bonds or notes, under and in compliance with the Municipal Finance Act, RSA 33:1, et seq, as amended; and one million three hundred sixty two thousand four hundred sixty two dollars ($1,362,462) of such sum as a donation from Consolidated; to authorize the Selectboard to apply for, obtain and accept federal, state or other aid, gifts and donations which may be available for said project and to comply with all laws applicable to said project; to authorize the Selectboard to issue, negotiate, sell and deliver said bonds and notes and to determine the rate of interest thereon and the maturity and other terms thereof and to authorize the Selectboard to take any other action or to pass any other vote relative thereto.

**2/3 ballot vote required**

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio felt most people had attended at least one of the three public meetings on the Bond.  There were no comments or questions.

ARTICLE 3:  To see if the Town will  vote to raise and appropriate the sum of four million six hundred seventy nine thousand, eight hundred four dollars ($4,679,804) which represents four million, fifteen thousand, five hundred forty four dollars ($4,015,544) for the Town operating budget to be raised from general taxation; one hundred eighty eight thousand four hundred ninety eight dollars ($188,498) for the Water Fund Operating Budget and four hundred seventy five thousand, seven hundred sixty two dollars ($475,762) for the Sewer Operating Budget, which includes two hundred thirty thousand dollars ($230,000) for bond assessments.  Such sum does not include special or individual articles or bonds found in the warrant.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio advised that the Water and Sewer budgets are user funded as well as the bond assessments.    

ARTICLE 4:  To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) for updates, repairs and remodeling of Town buildings including the renovation of the Town Clerk’s office, painting in Town Hall, repair of the Town Hall entrance walkway and replacement of the Reuse Center at the Recycling Center at $75,000 with $29,634.82 to come from insurance coverage.  The said funds to come from the Unassigned Fund Balance.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio stated the Town Clerk’s office is badly in need of renovations.  The layout is not conducive to working; it is crowded.  They would like to get it done this year.  Some painting will be done in the Town Hall including the bathrooms.  The Town Hall entrance walkway and railing have been patched for the past five-plus years.  We would like to put in some heated mats and/or an awning to keep the ice and snow off the walkway to make it safe for everyone.  The Recycling Reuse Center was crushed by a fallen tree this past summer. We would like to put that back in but different than before by adding an addition to the Recycling Center so they will be connected.  This will enable them to share services like heat, electricity, etc.  It could be opened almost year-round.  If the Reuse Center should close, the extra space will be used by the Recycling Center.  The Reuse Center donates quite a bit of money to the Fall Mountain Food Shelf every year.  The Selectboard would like to see this continue.      

ARTICLE 5:  To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of one hundred thirty thousand dollars ($130,000) for the purchase of a truck for the Highway Department.  The said funds will come from the Unassigned Fund Balance.  This is a non-lapsing warrant article.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio mentioned we have to replace the Town’s one-ton truck.  Over the years they have been trying to replace the old trucks that have been giving them lots of problems.  Last year we voted to buy a new dump truck w/plow but we still have not received it.  It takes a long time to get some of these trucks.  It is winter and we are now down one major truck until repairs can be made so it can plow and sand again.

Mr. Rau is not only down a truck but one employee as well.  

ARTICLE 6:  To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of twenty five thousand dollars ($25,000) to be deposited in the Town of Walpole Highway Capitol Reserve Fund Account.  The said funds to be raised through general taxation.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio advised we have a number of Capitol Reserve Funds.  When the time comes to order a piece of equipment, we will have some money to use.  It takes hundreds of dollars to buy a new truck.  We are just adding to these Capitol Reserve Funds.  Years ago, these funds could only be used to purchase new equipment but last year it got changed to repairs as well.  A resident asked how much is in this fund now.  Mrs. Pschirreranswered; it is $62,000 now plus the $25,000.

ARTICLE 7:  To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of thirty eight thousand dollars ($38,000) for a vehicle for the Walpole Police Department and to authorize the issuance of not more than thirty eight thousand dollars through a promissory note with Mascoma Bank at a rate of 2.99% or the lowest available rate at the time of the purchase of the vehicle in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Finance Act (RSA 33) and to authorize the municipal officials to issue and negotiate such bonds or other notes and to determine the rate of interest thereon.  Further, to raise and appropriate the sum of thirteen thousand two hundred fifty nine dollars and four cents ($13,259.04) for the first year’s payment.  The said funds to be raised through general taxation.

**2/3 ballot vote required**

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio pointed out that they will have to wait an hour before an announcement is made as to whether or not this Article 7 passes or is defeated.  The price of $38,000 comes from a NH State bid so we get a good price.  They try to keep the rotation of police cruisers going.    

ARTICLE 8: To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) to purchase a cage, console, other necessary equipment and installation in the new police vehicle.  This article is contingent upon passing of warrant article 7.  The said funds to be raised through general taxation.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio advised if Article 7 for the new police cruiser passes, they will need to vote on this Article 8.  The cruisers at $38,000 are pretty much stripped out.  We have to add all the equipment and lettering.  Police Chief Paquette said they try to recycle as much equipment as they can from cruiser-to-cruiserbut it does not always work.  Sometimes it just does not fit.  

ARTICLE 9:  To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $39,000 for the purchase of six (6) Motorola Dual Band portable radios.  This will also include the radio programming costs.  (These are State of New Hampshire bid prices.)  The said funds to be raised through taxation.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Police Chief Paquette displayed a radio they are using now.  His radio is 12 years old.  They cannot communicate with the Bellows Falls Police, Vermont State Police or Windham County Sheriff’s Department.  They go over to Bellows Falls to assist but they cannot communicate on the site.  When the radios get to a certain age they have problems getting parts.  The radios are covered by a warranty and the Town’s insurance coverage.  When they are on a dark road in the middle of the night, they want the capability to call for help when needed.  Some calls are extremely dangerous.  There was discussion relative to having Mutual Aid Agreements with other towns.  Chief Paquette confirmed that they do have agreements.

ARTICLE 10:  To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) to be deposited in the Town of Walpole Police Department – Capitol Reserve Fund Account.  The said funds to be raised through general taxation.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio noted that these Capitol Reserve Funds are not only being used for new equipment but for catastrophic reasons as well.  A resident asked what the balance is in this account.  Mrs. Pschirrer said $49,000.  

ARTICLE 11:  To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) for a study to determine the most economical approach to ensure the police station meets the needs of the Town.  Said funds will be used to contract with an outside consultant, if necessary.  The said funds will be raised through general taxation.

The Select Board recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 3 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio stated that the Town’s Police Station is out of compliance.  It is too small for the number of people we have in there.  Officers are handling many items such as evidence and guns on the same tables they are eating on.  It should not have carpeting because it breeds many things that come in with suspects.  They could be handling deadly drugs, etc.  It does not have the proper exhaust system.  This article is to give us the opportunity to hire an outside consultant who can help us research long-time needs.  Chief Paquette advised they bring in youth who cannot be mixed with adults yet there is a space issue.  There is no room for privacy, for interviews and many other cases.   Chief Paquette said the building served its purpose about 25 years ago but they are no longer in compliance and have outgrown the building.  Mr. Dalessio feels Chief Paquette and/or Lt. Sanctuary will give a tour of the building to someone if they call to make arrangements for a date and time.  They would like to study if a new building or an addition is needed and what it should have.  We would form a committee, start looking at possible options and hire a consultant to help us.  Chief Paquette pointed out that they would like to be closer to the three (3) Villages; a central location.  A resident was not sure $20,000 is enough for the study.  Mr. Dalessio stated they are not sure of the cost but felt this was a good number to start the study.        

ARTICLE 12:  To see if the Town will vote to pass an ordinance banning the distribution or sale of thin-film single-use plastic bags (defined as a bag, typically with handles, with a thickness of 4.0 mils or less that is provided at the point of sale for the transport of purchased products) by retail establishments.  This ban will go into effect twelve months after its creation to allow retail establishments time to adjust.

By petition of 25 or more eligible voters in the Town of Walpole, NH.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (0 Yes, 0 No, 3 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio introduced Ruby Frithsen and Sidney Curven, sophomore students at FMRHS, who brought this petition in to the Selectboard.  The petition was signed by over 150 voters.  They made their informational presentation on the reasons to ban thin-film, single-use plastic bags with a thickness of 4.0 mils or less. Mr. Dalessio thanked them for coming to this meeting.  He has the obligation to tell the voters that if this warrant article passes, and he hopes it does, that the Selectboard will not be able to enforce it because the State has not yet given them the authority to create an ordinance for banning plastic bags.  It is now in the Senate but its future is unknown at this time.  A question and answer period followed.

ARTICLE 13:  To see if the Town of Walpole will urge the Selectboard to write a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission require, via license article, the current and any subsequent owners of the Wilder, Bellows Falls and Vernon Dams to modify current dam operations to minimize peaking; provide for ongoing monitoring, to develop a shoreline adaptive management plan; and commit funding for riverbank restoration and/or property owner compensation to reimburse towns and landowners for any and all damages resulting from the deterioration of the riverbank.

The Selectboard recommends this article.  (3 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstain)

Mr. Dalessio advised this request came to the Selectboard from Mr. Tom Beaudry who has been studying the erosion that has been taking place along the Connecticut River for several years.  This year the dam is coming up for the renewal of their licensing.  The next opportunity to do this commenting is about 40 years out.  They hold the dam owners accountable for the erosion caused by the change in the flow of the Connecticut River.    

ARTICLE 14:  To transact any other business that may legally come before the meeting.

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Dalessio closed this Public Meeting at 5:48 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Regina Borden, Recording Secretary

Broadband Informational Meeting – 2/12/20

TOWN OF WALPOLE

MEETING OF THE SELECTBOARD

WITH THE BROADBAND COMMITTEE

BROADBAND PUBLIC BENEFITS MEETING

FEBRUARY 12, 2020

Selectboard Present:Steven Dalessio (Chair); Peggy Pschirrer; (Absent: Cheryl Mayberry)

Broadband Committee Present:   Paul Looney (Chair); Rod Bouchard, Richard Hill; Dennis Marcom

CALL TO ORDER:  Mr. Dalessio called this Public Hearing on Broadband Public Benefits to order at 6:35 PM in the Walpole Town Hall.  He thanked everyone for attending this Public Hearing on the high speed internet access that affects all the residents of the Town of Walpole.  Mr. DAlessio achknoledged all the work the Broadband Committee did in a short period of time.  There will be another Public Meeting on the Broadband Proposed Issuance of a Bond tomorrow, Thursday, February 13, 2020, at 4:00 PM.  Voters will be asked to vote on a Bond to provide Broadband service to the Town of Walpole on Saturday, March 14, 2020.  Tonight there will be discussion on the Broadband Public Benefits to the Town.  Mr. Dalessio turned the meeting over to Mrs. Peggy Pschirrer.

BROADBAND PUBLIC BENEFITS:  Mrs. Pschirrer has been working with the Broadband Committee since last May.  They started this private partnership with Consolidated Communications Inc. (CCI), a few months ago.  There was a series of steps to be taken as required by State law.  The Town has been very careful to follow all the rules and regulations to apply for this Bond and there were numerous ones.  Senator Jay Kahn was instrumental in getting the State to approve the issuance of Bonds to the towns without considering it debt.  It will not require any taxpayer money.  This Bond will come along in late June or early July.  Article 2 for approval of the Bond will be the first item on the Town Meeting agenda on Saturday, March 14th, 2020.  It will require a 2/3 ballot vote.  They really want people to turn out for this vote.  This is the third Public Hearing they have had.  The cost will only be to the subscribers who use the service.  This represents the under-served members of this community who have terrible internet service.  If they do have it, they are probably paying exorbitant prices for just their service.  First we will hear from Mr. Paul Looney, Chair of the Broadband Committee.  The other members present are Mr. Rod Bouchard, Mr. Dick Hill and Mr. Dennis Marcom.  Mr. Marcom has generously agreed to be our local Project Director.  We are very grateful for this.  We will also hear from Mr. Rob Koester, Vice-President of Consumer Products of CCI.  He is located in the Manchester, NH area. They are a rural Broadband company with service areas in 23 states.  Mr. Mike Cannon, Director of Operations at CCI, is also present.  He will demonstrate some of their equipment that will be used in putting this project together.  

Mr. Looney displayed the “Introduction” page of their “Making Walpole a Connected Community” presentation.  The Plan provides for High Speed (25 Mbps Down 3 Mbps Up).  The Bonding goal is to make sure that everybody reaches this.  The project they are bringing forward is to have speeds up to 1000Mbps.  There would be an increase in price.  Fiber hashigher reliability than the copper used today.  Bringing fiber into homes will help the owners with maintenance.  

Mr. Looney reported the Bonding they will be asking for is $1,856,100.  The contract we will have with Consolidated will allow them to bill the users who are getting the service.   The cost will be $9.00/month on top of their regular service.  Consolidated will then give this to the Town who will pay for the Bond.  There will be no taxpayer money and no tax increases.  Consolidated charges will be consistent with what they charge throughout the State.  Over time the $9.00 will be reduced. It will go down in small amounts depending on how many people sign up.  Mr. Koester pointed out that over the first 3-to-5 years there is not going to be enough to cover the Bond payments but they will cover that. They are responsible for the Bond payments through the 20year term.  This motivates them to keep as many users as possible.  Right now there are six towns going through this process and then close to another dozen next year.  In the agreement they will periodically reset the $9.00 rate depending on how many subscribers they have but it will not exceed the $9.00.  

A resident asked what percentage of people generally sign-up for this service.  Mr. Koester said usually 40-to-45%.  They usually experience a higher percentage which he expects Walpole will have.  

Mr. Looney explained that the backbone of the fiber to the home will be Consolidated.  Mr. Looney replied to a resident’s question of “During the 20 years of the Bond, Consolidated will maintain the contract?” They assume that over the 20 years the equipment will change with no cost to the Town.  Mr. Koester said that after 20 years and 1 day, the Town owns the network.  His expectation is that after 20 years the Town will put out another Request for Proposals (RFP).  Other providers will have the option to rebid.  Mr. Looney noted that if you have Comcast today, they will have to convince you that it is better and cheaper to go with CCI.  For some it will be a choice.  Mr. Hill said they could also do a combination of service which is to hire CCI for the internet service. They think this will bring about competition in Town.  

A resident asked how long this project will take assuming there is a positive vote.  Mr. Looney said the total project will take about two years.  

A resident asked her landlord to come to a meeting.  He said he will not because he does not have nor does he want internet service.  She has phone service to her home and would like to have Broadband.  If she eventually leaves, who does the service fall back on?  Mr. Koester felt she should talk with her landlord.  If she leaves, the service would be disconnected at her request.  Mr. Looney mentioned that Broadband will make properties more saleable but it also makes small businesses have other opportunities.  More people will be able to work from home.  He believes that someday they will be able to communicate with their doctors and not have to travel.  It presents better educational opportunities.   He had talked with Dr. Shaw who said this will be better for his business.    

Mr. Looney noted they are talking about bonding.  He went to the Selectboard about three years ago to discuss internet service.  At that time the providers would not extend his service unless he would pay the company to run the line down the street and into his driveway.  New Hampshire realized that to get Broadband to some of their communities, they would have to do something different.  Senator Jay Kahn was the architect of the regulations for towns to go in with private/public partnerships to get higher speed internet out to each home in Town.

A resident asked what DSL is.  Mr. Koester explained it is copper and is a good technology.  There are pluses and minuses.  The minus is you have to be close to the equipment to get reliable service.  Fiber is a different option; examples were on display in the room.  Fiber is a 60% improvement in reliability.  He explained what happens if there is a cut in the connection from the pole to the house; there is no loss of service.  Today rain, wind and cold can cause a loss due to the copper technology.

Mr. Looney explained that in the beginning they went out to obtain information from CCI and Comcast.  They only received an answer from CCI.  Comcast did not respond.  They were at a loss for some of the data.  With the information they did receive,he explained that the red dots on the display page were underserved and the green dots are served.  We will all get served.  They then went out with a Request for Proposals to seven providers.  Three RFPs came back and they were reviewed.  The committee members felt the most likely one for them to be successful with was CCI.  Chesterfield has a contract with CCI and that went very well.  They made a recommendation to the Selectboard to go with CCI.  

Mr. Hill advised that one of the conditions for a Municipal Bond is to demonstrate that the actual financial need is greater than the cost of the project.  Total cost of the project is $3,218,562.  Some research was just published in the July 2019 Journal of Applied Economics by Molnar, G., Savage, S., and D. Sicker on “High-Speed Internet Access and Housing Values”. Over two years they looked over thousands of sales.  They were able to show that access to internet high speed access affected the prices of properties.  For example:  Broadband Speed Available – 0 to 20 Mbps – Number of Locations 1148 – Percentage Effect on Prices is 3.7% – Total Property Value Change $10,254,301.  Broadband Speed Available – 25 to 50 Mbps – Number of locations 581 – % Effect on Prices is 1.2% – Total Property Value Change $1,683,138.  Broadband Speed Available – 50 to 100 Mbps – Number of Locations 271 – % Effect on Prices is 0.6% – Total Property Value Change $392,539.  Greater than 100 Mbps – Number of Locations 54 – % Effect on Prices is not applicable.  Estimates are based on median home value of $241,414 in Walpole and North Walpole based on data from City-Data.com.  They estimated that Comcast provided service to about 80% of the homes in Walpole.  Mr. Looney pointed out that just because it states your home would be more valuable, it will not affect your property taxes.  Even if Comcast had responded to their RFP, they still think Walpole would have been eligible for Broadband coverage.  

Relative to underground lines, Mr. Koester advised that the only out of pocket cost might be if a property owner has a wire that is not in a conduit.  Mr. Looney has internet from one company and a dish in his house.  Broadband will allow him to do away with the dish which will save him some money.  

Mr. Looney advised they are in the process of working on the contract with CCI.  They will need a two- thirds vote on March 14th.  If this proposal is voted down, it will not cost the Town any money.

Mr. Koester talked about what to expect in the future.  He talked about the network design.  There are three elements to a network.  The Town of Walpole is served by three buildings.  They have some equipment in Alstead/Bellows Falls, Portland, Maine and Burlington, Vermont. They connect to other cities. If the fiber gets cut on one side, it goes to another section.  They cover the entire cost of the equipment.  On the Google Earth display, all the purple is served by this office and the Alstead/Bellows Falls office.  In Chesterfield they built about 92 miles in six weeks; they move quickly.  Bad weather can slow them down.  There are three phases: 1) Fiber in the ground; 2) Splice the fiber; and 3) Testing; this takes about two weeks. They want to be ready to start as soon as everything is in place.  About four-to-six weeks before they start, they will post it on the website specifically dedicated to Walpole.  It will give people the opportunity to presignup for service.  They will communicate with the Town on a regular basis.  There is no installation charge.  

Mr. Koester displayed Pricing, in general, based on 50, 100 or 150 MBPS.  It depends on the product mix.  As a general rule with phone service, it is about $130.00/month.  The average customer usage is 50-100 MBPS.  CCI pays all the pole taxes and fees.  

Adrian Basora asked if it is fair to say they might be able to offer an equal quality service for the same pricing as Comcast.  Mr. Koester said “yes”.A resident asked why anyone would not vote in favor of this service.  Mr. Koester heard two objections:  1) In Chesterfield someone was in favor of it but voted against it because they did not feel any vote should be unanimous; and 2) some folks have concerns with 5G coming in.   Mr. Looney asked for those in attendance to raise their arm if they would vote “yes” and everyone in attendance raised their arm. Therefore, it was unofficially voted a unanimous “yes”.  

 

Replying to a question from a resident, Mr. Koester said they have not yet looked at a construction schedule.  They will want to meet with the Selectboard and explain what the ideal situation is to build their network.  If the Town has areas they want them to consider first, that will be explored.  

 

A resident will be out-of-town on March 14th and asked if he can vote on an absentee ballot.  Mrs. Pschirrer was not sure because at the Town Meeting there will be discussion and there may be amendments.  She will check with the Town Clerk tomorrow but has never heard of an absentee ballot for Town Meeting.  

 

Mrs. Pschirrer advised that Town Meeting is on Saturday, March 14, 2020, at 1:00 PM in the Walpole Town Hall.  This will be the first item for discussion.  It will require a 2/3 vote.  She read Article 2 regarding the Bond vote.  The Bond Bank attorney’s fees will be paid for out of the Bond.   Mr. Koester confirmed that the Town buildings will have complimentary service but not the schools as their requirements are different. Schools qualify for a federal program at an extremely low price.  

 

Mrs. Pauline Barnes called for a Thank You to the Broadband Committee for all their time and work.  They received a round of applause.                       

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Dalessio closed this Public Meeting at 7:50 PM.  

Respectfully submitted,

Regina Borden, Recording Secretary

Selectboard Meeting Minutes – 1/30/20

Selectboard Present:Steven Dalessio (Chair); Peggy Pschirrer; Cheryl Mayberry

CALL TO ORDER:  Mr. Dalessio called this meeting of the Selectboard to order at 6:30 PM in the Walpole Town Hall.  He advised this meeting is being recorded and asked anyone wishing to speak to identify themselves for the record.  There were two visitors in attendance.

PUBLIC BUSINESS:

FACT-TV:  Mr. Alex Stradling and Mr. Bill Staats from FACT-TV were present to record this meeting.  Mr. Stradling explained that they are here because FACT-TV is located in Bellows Falls, VT and they cover local government meetings.  A lot of Walpole residents have asked if they could film these meetings.  They are trying to connect Walpole, NH and Bellows Falls, VT asresidents have a great interest as to what is going on.  We are connected in a lot of ways not only with the Emergency Services and Mutual Aid but now other mutual issues like the Vilas Bridge.  This is an open public meeting therefore it is open tothe press.  The citizens have every right to know what is going on with their local government. They are not here to accost the Selectboard.  After many local governments have started this filming they realize this is a great service.  FACT-TV has recordings they keep to use as a back-up.  These recordings can be seen on FACT-TV, their web-site, Facebook page and recordings will be kept in their archives.  He hopes theSelectboard can see this as a benefit.

ACCOUNTS PAYABLE:

Ms. Mayberry moved to accept the Accounts Payable Check Register in the total amount of $52,390.33 for checks issued January 31, 2020.  This includes a payment in the amount of $42,329.50 to the HealthTrust.  Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved.

PAYROLL:

Ms. Mayberry moved to accept the Payroll Check Register for the week ending January 25, 2020, in the amount of $29,868.97, for checks issued January 31, 2020, and the electronic fund transfer for the 941 Employer Taxes in the amount of $5,940.43.  Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved.

SELECTBOARD MEETING MINUTES:

SELECTBOARD MINUTES – January 23, 2020:  Ms. Mayberry moved to accept the Minutes of the Selectboardmeeting of January 23, 2020, as submitted.  Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the Minutes were approved.

NON-PUBLIC SELECTBOARD SESSION – January 23, 2020:  Ms. Mayberry moved to accept the Minutes of the Non-Public Selectboard Session of January 23, 2020, as submitted.  These Minutes will remain sealed.  Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the Minutes were approved.

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

The Selectboard acknowledged receipt of the following Committee reports:

Hooper Institute Board Minutes – January 8, 2020;
Broadband Committee Minutes – January 8, 2020.

WARRANTS:

Ms. Mayberry moved to accept the following three Warrants for the Collection of Fees:

Walpole Water Fees – $40,813.02
Walpole Sewer Fees – $62,857.52;
North Walpole Sewer Fees – $56,589.99.

Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved.

VETERANS TAX CREDITS:

Ms. Mayberry moved to grant the following three Veteran’s Tax Credits for:

Map and Lot #012-055-016 – Veterans’ Tax Credit;
Map and Lot #008-035-000 – Veterans’ Tax Credit;
Map and Lot #012-044-009 – This Veteran also qualifies for a second tax credit:  Tax Credit for    Service-Connected Total Disability

Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved.

TIMBER INTENTS TO CUT:

Ms. Mayberry moved to approve the following three Notices of Intent to Cut Wood or Timber:

Map and Lot #009-006-000 – Located off of Maple Grove Road;
Map and Lot #005-011-000 – Located off of County Road;
Map and Lot #005-011-002 – Located off of Kingsbury Road

Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved.

OLD BUSINESS:

Whipple Hill Road Signage:  Mr. Dalessio reported that Mr. Mike Rau, Road Agent, has been discussing Whipple Hill Road signage with Mr. Bill Sudsbury and other property owners on the road.  Mrs. Pschirrer was unable to find anything in her research to indicate there was a cul-de-sac at the end of this road.    

Water and Sewer Receipts to Date:  Mr. Dalessioacknowledged receipt of the Water and Sewer Receipts to Date 01/29/2020, from Mrs. Jodi Daigle.  Total Owed for Quarter 3 – 2019 Billing was $178,447.39.  Total Receipts for Quarter 3 – 2019 Billing is $163,234.11 or 91.4%.  Total left to collect for Quarter 3 – 2019 Billing is $15,213.28.    

Letter to Property Owner of 73 Main Street – Map and Lot #020-052-000:  Mrs. Pschirrer reported that 73 Main Street is a mixed-use building in a commercial district that requires a building permit, as well as a Site Plan Review.

Mrs. Pschirrer moved to approve and sign the letter to the property owner of 73 Main Street to ask that they contact the Zoning Board of Adjustment to determine whether they would need a special exception and/or a variance.   Seconded by Ms. Mayberry.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Mrs. Pschirrer, Ms. Mayberry and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved.

Pending Further Actions:

Lights re: Walpole, NH – Rockingham, VT 42277 Bridge Renovation Project:  Mr. Dalessio has not yet had a response from the NH Department of Transportation regarding the lights.  Ms. Mayberry met with the North Walpole Village Board of Commissioners last Tuesday.  Mr. Patrick Kiniry reminded her that some years ago they met at the base of the Arch Bridge and did a walk through with the NH Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives.  The Selectboard, at that time, indicated an interest in more signage and paying for the lighting.  She questioned if we were allowed to put additional official signage on State roads.  It would be advantageous to talk to the NH DOT about additional signage.   Examples would be to have “YIELD” painted on the bridge, a sign to “Please Use Your Turn Signal” because when people come over the bridge from VT they are not always signaling they intend to turn and go north.  A train going through can cause a congestion problem in this area.      

Joint Meeting Request from Bellows Falls Board of Trustees: The Walpole Selectboard is waiting for a Joint Meeting date and time from the Bellows Falls Board of Trustees.  

Town Deeded Properties:  Mrs. Downing is preparing the Town Deeded Properties Tax Sale packets for the two properties.

NEW BUSINESS:

2019 Town Report – Front Cover:  The Selectboard looked at four (4) samples using Hooper Institute themed photos.  A decision was made to use the fall scene at the Hooper as the front cover.  Because the Library was just renovated, the back cover will be an interior picture.  

2020 Initial Boundary Validation Program Form:  Mr. Dalessio requested that this be carried over to the next meeting to allow more time to look at the maps.  This is for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Concerts on the Common:  Mr. Dalessio acknowledged a request from the Savings Bank of Walpole to continue their Concerts on the Green series this summer.  The first concert will take place on Sunday, June 21, 2020 and then every Sunday thereafter through August 9, 2020.  The concert on June 28st will be  a Walpole Old Home Days event.  The Scouts will open and close the Town Hall for them every Sunday as they have in past years.  

Mrs. Pschirrer moved to send a letter to the Savings Bank of Walpole to approve the use of the Town Common for their Concerts on the Green from June 21, 2020 to August 9, 2020.  Seconded by Ms. Mayberry.  Mr. Dalessio asked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Mrs. Pschirrer, Ms. Mayberry and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved.

SWRPC Winter Meeting Invitation:  Mr. Dalessio advised the Selectboard has been invited to attend the Southwest Region Planning Commission’s Winter Meeting to be held at the Cheshire Medical Center/ Dartmouth-Hitchcock, in Keene, NH on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, beginning at 5:30 p.m.  The Topic will be Addressing Opioid Addiction in the Monadnock Region: Challenges for Communities”.  Mr. Dalessio, Mrs. Pschirrer and Ms. Mayberry plan to attend.  

Swipe Key List for Town Hall:  The Selectboard reviewed and approved the list of swipe card holders.  Mrs. Downing explained they are still in the transition period.  

OTHER BUSINESS:

Brownfields Cleanup Grant Program – Central Plating Site:  Mrs. Pschirrer reported that the first Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report for the Brownfields Cleanup Grant Program for the former Central Plating Site has been approved and filed by Ransom Consulting.  Mr. Kreissle and Mrs. Downing also worked on this report which includes reimbursement of their time and a computer that needed to be purchased for this grant.    

ADJOURNMENT:  Mrs. Pschirrer moved to close this Selectboard meeting.  Seconded by Ms. Mayberry.  Mr. Dalessioasked if there was any discussion.  There was none.  With Mrs. Pschirrer, Ms. Mayberry and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the meeting was closed at 7:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Regina Borden, Recording Secretary

Broadband Meeting – 1/11/20

TOWN OF WALPOLE

MEETING OF THE SELECTBOARD

WITH THE BROADBAND COMMITTEE

PUBLIC BENEFITS PUBLIC MEETING

JANUARY 11, 2020

Selectboard Present:Steven Dalessio (Chair); Peggy Pschirrer; Cheryl Mayberry

Broadband Committee Present: Paul Looney (Chair); Bob Anderson; Dick Hill and Rod Bouchard

CALL TO ORDER:  Mr. Dalessio called this Public Hearing to order at 10:00 AM in the Walpole Town Hall.  The purpose of the meeting was to provide information and to answer questions regarding the building and funding of the infrastructure to enable Walpole residents to receive broadband internet service. Mr. Dalessio thanked the Broadband Committee for their many hours of hard work in bringing this matter forward to the voters in March. He also thanked Lucy Webber and Tara Sad for bringing this idea to the Selectboard several months ago. There were 33 members of the public in attendance.

PUBLIC MEETINGBROADBAND BOND WARRANT:  Mrs. Pschirrer, the Selectboard liaison to the Broadband Committee, explained that two public meetings and a bond hearing are required. She reviewed the agenda and speakers. At the end of the meeting, there will be a question and answer session. Mrs. Pschirrer asked speakers to identify themselves and their home address for the minutes.

Broadband Committee Chair, Paul Looney, said that the plan is to bring high speed internet service to all Walpole residents. The fiber network can provide 1000 megabits per second (Mbps) for a fee. Fiber should provide more reliability since copper wires rust and have water issues.  They are looking to issue a bond of 1.8 million dollars. The Committee wanted to make sure that property taxpayers understood that the payment of the bond would be done through fees from subscribers and not from tax monies. The fee is capped at $9 per month above normal service fees.

Under the Economic Impact slide, housing marketability would be positively impacted with broadband service. Telecommuting, education, and telemedicine were also discussed.

Mr. Looney explained that organizations that provide broadband service do not have the funds for expansion. They need some help. The committee didn’t feel that 5G cell service would be a solution due to the geography of the Town with hills and trees. Mr. Looney stated again that the bond would not be paid by taxpayers. The bond would be paid by users through the internet service fee.

Walpole is using the Chesterfield model with a main difference in that Walpole will own the network with Consolidated Communications Inc. (CCI) maintaining it. Mr. Looney thanked Chesterfield for all the work they did.

Bob Anderson stated he has lived in Town for 20 years and no one has tried to improve the Town’s internet. It’s a unique opportunity. He explained that other states have different approaches in providing broadband to rural communities. New Hampshire created a private/public partnership. There’s a private partner that builds and operates the network. The Town floats the bond. There is a way to pay back the bond without taxes. And, something then can be done for those without very good internet service.

Mr. Looney explained the process. A Request for Information was sent out to area providers. The only response submitted was from CCI. A slide of a map showing served and underserved areas of the Town was displayed. An RFP was sent to 7 vendors with 3 responses. The committee reviewed the proposals and made a recommendation to the Selectboard to negotiate with CCI. Hiring a bonding agent was recommended. The bond must be voted upon at Town Meeting. Mr. Looney encouraged attendees to attend Town Meeting and bring others to support the Broadband Bond Article. Another presentation is planned for Wednesday, February 12th at 6:30 PM.

Dick Hill said that the committee had to demonstrate that the public benefit was greater than the cost of the project. He presented study of two years of home sales in the US with a comparison of the value of homes with and without access to high speed internet. From this paper and the Request for Information, the committee was able to calculate the benefit.  There were 1148 homes with no or low internet speed.  If these homes had high speed internet (over 100 Mbps), it would have a 3.7% positive value on home sales. Homes currently having 2550 Mbps would have 1.2% increase and those with 50-100 Mbps would have a .6% increase in selling price by moving to high speed internet. The average home value in Walpole is $240,000. Once the percentages were applied to the number of homes, the underserved home group would potentially have over $12million in increased sales value.

 

The public benefit was found to be significantly higher than the cost of the project. Although data was only received from CCI, with no information provided by Comcast, they created an estimate of those served through cable service. Even is the number of non-served homes was 20.5%, the public benefit was $3.8 million which was over the project cost and therefore worthwhile.

Paul Looney reviewed the Consolidate Communications (CCI) Proposal. The proposal includes bringing fiber to the home.There will be free aerial installation for the first 150 feet to the home. There will be packages which will include a streaming service. CCI would like to retire the copper wire. Fiber is more reliable. In the proposal, CCI will build the network and maintain it, but the Town will own it.

For funding per Mr. Looney, there will be a $1.8 million bond. Again, no cost to the taxpayer and the committee believes there will be enough subscribers to pay off the bond in 20 years. A next step is to gain approval from a bonding authority and somebody to get the money. The agreement with CCI needs to be finalized with the Selectboard approving it. Two thirds “yes” vote is needed at the annual meeting to approve the bond. Mr. Looney encouraged citizens to attend the meeting. The committee needs your help.

Rob Koester, VP of Consumer Products of CCI, introduced himself and Mike Cannon, Sr. Director of Operations. Mr. Koester explained that rural broadband is what CCI does. They have service areas in 23 states. To project into the future, assuming a positive vote at Town Meeting, the first thing they would do is build a new network. Currently there is some existing fiberoptic cable. They would build an overlay to serve individual end-users. There are 3 primary central offices with one being adjacent to the Common. There are splitter cabinets out in the field that are about the size of a dorm frig. New fiber equipment would be installed into existing splitter cabinets. Equipment will be installed on the side of house. Examples are available to view. Fiber “future proofs” service by allowing for higher internet speeds into future. Fiber is glass and it requires power to shoot light though it. Power will be required to run the service with two options to connect. If powers go out, the service will also cut out unless one purchases a battery back-up or connects to plug with generator supply.

The implementation map was displayed. Of the $1.8 million bond, 80% is to pay for over 90 miles of backbone fiber network. Once the bond is approved, CCI starts assembling materials. Once the funding is secured, multiple crews will work throughout the Town to install fiber. Mr. Koester reviewed the Chesterfield timeline. Once bond funding is approved, he estimated it would be 4-5 months for the first connections to become live. Users will become live incrementally; not all at one time.

A special website will be created for Walpole customers. Six to 8 weeks in advance of the 1st customer turn on, customers will be able to sign up for service. It allows for more efficiency and quicker implementation. Appointments for installing service will be made by CCI.

The policy in regards to installation is that there is no fee; all installation fees are waived. If you currently have service, there will be no charge. Those with buried conduit, if it can be pulled through with the existing copper line, there should be no charge.

Sample pricing for an average consumer was displayed with 3 different speeds. The fiber recovery fee will be $9 for those purchasing broadband. Bundle discounts do exist. The guarantee to Walpole is that the service fees will match what is offered throughout the state. Customers will be able to terminate and move to a new package without any penalty fees.  Customers that remain on copper wire will be eventually encouraged to move to fiber service. Generally, most customers will be able to move up in speed and pay the same amount of money.

Marilyn Wilking of Stevens Lane asked what the cost would be for 1 gigabit (or 1000 Mbps) service. Mr. Koester explained that it was not on the slide, but he estimated the cost to be just under $100 per month.

Susan Jasse of Wentworth Road asked to view the map. Mr. Looney and Mr. Koester assured Mrs. Jasse that she would be able to get broadband service, assuming the vote passes.

Mike Stockwell of County Road asked if private contractors would be doing the work. Mr. Koester said they mainly use their own crews. They may supplement with contracted crews but CCI would be responsible for any issues. Mr. Looney restated the Town will own the network with CCI handling installation and maintenance.

Debbie Hutchings of Blackjack Crossing said her service runs underground but was unsure if conduit was used. Mr. Koester told Mrs. Hutchings to speak with Mr. Cannon after the meeting for more information.

Bob Grenier of North River Road asked what the advantage wasto the Town to own the network. Mr. Koester said for the first 20 years, the Town must own the network. An agreement will be with the Town for maintaining the network. After the 20 years passes, the Town can change how the system is maintained. Mr. Looney said that since CCI will not own the network, it will not show as a liability on their books. It also allows for more options for funding through non-taxable bonds.

Steve Lazok of Taggard Road asked about retrofitting a house that has copper telephone line. Would there be recommended contractor for running line through one’s home? Mr. Koester said that a wireless device will be installed which would not require cat 5 wire. A large home might need a booster or extender. CCI does offer internal wiring services for those who want hardwiring.

Cheryl Mayberry of 9 Spruce Street asked about the purple on the backbone network map. Mr. Koester replied that the purple area would be serviced through the Walpole center office. The yellow and blue lines donated different centers. Every center will be able to offer 1 gigabit of service in Walpole.

Joey Andros of Old North Main Street has recently renewed service with her cable company for a bundled service. If she changed service, there would be penalty fees. Mr. Koester said as a rule, CCI service fees will be $30 to $40 less than cable. Ms. Andros asked if they offer TV service. Mr. Koester stated that CCI recently added a streaming (TV) service. Ms. Andros can sign up anytime with CCI when she wishes to.

Lucy Webber reiterated that those not using the CCI service will not be paying the broadband fee. She asked about the maintenance difference between copper and fiber. Mr. Koester stated that copper is metal and susceptible to weather i.e. snow, rain and mechanical disturbers on the line. Fiber is faster and more reliable. Fiber is either on or off. They have advanced troubleshooting tools. Paul Looney commented that going forward, one will now have two choices for internet providers which will be beneficial regarding quality of service.

Michael Martin of Blackjack Crossing asked about 1 gigabit of service and that finding consumer products to support that service are hard to locate. Could CCI provide that equipment? Mr. Koester said that CCI cannot. They can provide a device that will offer 175 to 200 megabits of speed. The rule value of 1 gigabit service is that is it used by those with 50+ devices or for those with large file transfers.  Mr. Martin asked if there could be a contract buyout. Mr. Koester said that CCI wants people to be on broadband and they do offer buyouts.

Bill Gallagher of Kiniry Street asked if it will be an annual maintenance contract and who pays for it. Mr. Koester explained that CCI will be paying for any upgrades and repairs. There is no cost to the Town. Mr. Gallagher asked if the $9 would change. Mr. Koester said that the fee will never exceed $9. The fee should go down over the life of the bond.

Tracy Miller rents a home on Barnett Hill Road and pays for her own utilities. She wondered how this project will affect renters. Mr. Koester said that if permission is given by the landlord, the service can be installed.

Steve Dalessio of Alstead Center Road asked what happens in the 21st year. The Town will have ownership of the network per Mr. Koester. It will have the ability to do whatever it wants with the network. Mr. Dalessio wondered if there would be a broadband fee at that time. Mr. Koester did not know since this is uncharted territory.

Bas Den Hond of Old Cheshire Turnpike asked what the maximum speed was for the network as upgrades occur. Mr. Koester responded that eventually speeds above 1 gigabit may become available. He stated that the system will be able to handle it.

Stan Hutchings of Blackjack Crossing wondered how much of the network’s backbone is dark and not at capacity. Mr. Koester said it was a tough question since fiber has no limit. It’s going to depend on how many customers are on the network. There’s no shared service; it’s a one to one relationship.

Bill Therrien of Stevens Lane missed the amount of money the Town is signing up for. What is the value of the bond value for the project? Mrs. Pschirrer said that the bond value is $1,856,100. There is a separate bond hearing on Feb. 13th at 4 PM at the Town Hall. There will not be a sit-down meeting regarding the broadband fee for the first 2-3 years. Mr. Looney said the contract makes CCI responsible to the bond payment even if there are not enough subscribers to cover the cost.

Mrs. Pschirrer introduced the members of the Broadband Committee and thanked them for their service.

Cheryl Mayberry asked for more information on the backbone network map regarding the yellow/gold area. Mr. Koester said that service will be from Bellows Falls, VT.

Mrs. Pschirrer thanked everyone for attending. The next informational meeting will be on Feb. 12th at 6:30 PM. The Broadband Bond Hearing will be on Feb. 13th at 4:00 PM.

 

Mr. Dalessio closed this Public Meeting at 11:22 AM.  

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Downing, Recording Secretary Pro Tempore

Hooper Trustees Meeting Minutes – 1/23/20

Hooper Trustees Present:    Steven Dalessio (Chair); Peggy Pschirrer; Cheryl Mayberry

CALL TO ORDER:  Mr. Dalessio called this Hooper Trustees meeting to order at 7:36 PM.  He advised this meeting is being recorded.

HOOPER TRUSTEES MINUTES:

HOOPER TRUSTEES MEETING – January 16, 2020:  Ms. Mayberry moved to accept the Minutes of the Hooper Trustees meeting of January 16, 2020, as submitted.  Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessioin favor, the Minutes were approved.

NON-PUBLIC HOOPER TRUSTEES SESSION – January 16, 2020:  Ms. Mayberry moved to accept the Minutes of the Non-Public Hooper Trustees Session of January 16, 2020, as submitted.  These Minutes will remain sealed.  Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the Minutes were approved.

NON-PUBLIC HOOPER TRUSTEES SESSION:

Mrs. Pschirrer moved to enter into a Non-Public Hooper Trustees Session pursuant to RSA 91-A:3 II to discuss (c) Reputations.  Ms. Mayberry seconded the motion and, on a roll call vote with Mrs. Pschirrer, Ms. Mayberry and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved at 7:39 PM.

The regular Hooper Trustees meeting resumed at 7:43 PM.

Mrs. Pschirrer moved that the Minutes of the Non-Public Hooper Trustees Session of January 23, 2020, be sealed.  Seconded by Ms. Mayberry.  With Mrs. Pschirrer, Ms. Mayberry and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the motion was approved.

ADJOURNMENT:

Ms. Mayberry moved to adjourn this Hooper Trustees meeting.  The Hooper Trustees will return to the Selectboard meeting.  Seconded by Mrs. Pschirrer.  With Ms. Mayberry, Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. Dalessio in favor, the meeting was adjourned at 7:45 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Regina Borden, Recording Secret