Monday, May 31, 2010

Franklin, MA: Town Common Monuments

There are a number of monuments around the Town Common in Franklin honoring the sacrifice of those who served in each war. On Memorial Day, we give thanks for their service.





Franklin, MA

Frequently asked questions: "We wouldn’t be in a crisis if we hadn’t spent money on the senior center, fire station and new ball fields"

We wouldn’t be in a crisis if we hadn’t spent money on the senior center, fire station and new ball fields.

These projects are the most visible examples of the Town’s effort to maintain and improve its buildings and facilities for the benefit of the general community. The vast majority of the funding for these renovations comes from the town’s long-term capital improvements plan, also known as the “20/20 Plan.” This is money the town borrows as part of its ongoing effort to upgrade public facilities, streets, sidewalks and buildings. A small part of the town's annual operating budget is used to pay off the debt that funds capital improvements, the same way a homeowner would pay off a mortgage over time.


The last time the town built a new recreation facility was 1990. Since then, the population has increased by about 10,000 people. We built three schools in that time period to house the surge in students, but we did not build any recreational facilities for them. The Town made improvements to existing fields, added new fields, and brought back into use the field and track at the High School. The existing track had not been useable for many years.


The senior citizen population in Franklin continues to grow. It is currently projected that citizens over 60 will increase from about 4,200 to over 7,500 in the next ten years. The old senior center had just two rooms and minimal parking which was completely inadequate for our population and programs. The new center has seen a three fold increase in participation. It has become a focal point for older adults and their families with many varied programs, services and activities to address the needs and interests of our senior and disabled residents.


One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!

Additional information on the override can be found here:


Franklin, MA

Frequently asked questions: "Why don’t town employees fund their own pensions?"

Pension costs are killing us, so why don’t town employees fund their own pensions?

Public employees are generally not covered by Social Security and DO self fund their retirement through a municipal pension system. Teachers, for example, contribute as much as 11% of their annual salary to this program and local property taxes do NOT fund the system. State tax revenues fund a portion of current benefits but the majority of such revenues are allocated to the unfunded municipal pension liability (i.e., in fiscal 2008, 77 percent of the Commonwealth’s $1.3 billion contribution to State and Teachers’ Pensions covered the unfunded liability while 23 percent went to pay for current retiree benefits. Reference: http://www.middlesexretirement.org/Special_Commission_Report_9.09.pdf

One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!

Additional information on the override can be found here:

Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - 6/2/10

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – May 5, 2010

B. ANNOUNCEMENTS

C. PROCLAMATIONS/RECOGNITIONS

D. CITIZEN COMMENTS

E. APPOINTMENTS

F. HEARINGS

G. LICENSE TRANSACTIONS

H. PRESENTATIONS/DISCUSSIONS – Residential Key Box Program

I. SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS

J. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION –
1. Resolution 10-24: Establishment of a Fire Department Fire Rescue Training Revolving Account for FY 2011
2. Resolution 10-25: Establishment of a Council on Aging Senior Center Activities Program Revolving Account for FY 2011
3. Resolution 10-26: Establishment of a Council on Aging Supportive Day Program Revolving Account for FY 2011
4. Resolution 10-27: Establishment of a Use of Facilities Revolving Account for FY 2011
5. Resolution 10-28: Acceptance of Gift – Franklin Library
6. Resolution 10-29: Authorization for Intermunicipal Agreement with Town of Medway for Franklin to Provide Library Administrative and Maintenance Services to Medway
7. Bylaw Amendment 10-648: Chp. 151, Solid Waste; § 151-1. Definition –1st Reading

K. TOWN ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT

L. OLD BUSINESS

M. NEW BUSINESS

N. COUNCIL COMMENTS

O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required

P.  ADJOURN

Franklin, MA

What in the world is free cash?

The first thing to remember is that it is not free and it is not cash, to quote a former Deputy Commissioner of Local Services. The Bureau of Accounts (BOA) defines free cash as the amount a community has accumulated when actual revenue collections exceed the budget estimates used when setting the tax rate and/or actual expenditures or encumbrances (committed funds not yet expended) are less than appropriations. 
----

Since free cash is a non-recurring revenue source, good financial management dictates that it should not be relied upon to fund operating budgets but rather should be used for one-time purposes such as capital purchases or appropriations to supplement the stabilization fund.
From Dec 2000 MA Gov publication found here (PDF)

So what does this mean in everyday English?

Suppose in your household budget you allocate $100 per week for food. You track all expenses diligently and at the end of the period you realize that while the budget for the year was $5,200 you actually spent only $4,900. The difference between the budget amount and actual expenditures would be money that you can use for other purposes in the household. As controller of the household funds, this would be an easy decision. At the Franklin budget level, the funds need to be certified by the State before they can be determined as "free cash" and used for another purpose.

Suppose in your household budget, along the way, you realize that while you budgeted $100 for electricity, you tend to be running expenses more than $100. If you can cut your usage, you should try. Otherwise, at some point you need to find another account (source of money) to cover for running over budget. Combining the example above, you might be able to take the extra food money to cover for the electricity shortage. If you don't have such a source, then you look to cut something somewhere to meet the budget without going into debt.

Does this help?


Franklin, MA

In the News - art for Haiti


Franklin Art students take small step that counts big time for Haiti



Franklin, MA


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Frequently asked questions: "some people suggest we should adopt a split tax rate"

I have heard some people suggest we should adopt a split tax rate that makes businesses in Franklin pay more property taxes. Wouldn’t that solve the problem?

A split tax rate will not generate any additional funding. Think of the amount of money a town can raise from property taxes as a pizza. You can cut that pizza into four slices, eight slices or even more, but it is still the same pizza.


Proposition 2½, by law, prevents the amount that a community can raise from property taxes from increasing by more than 2.5% per year. A split tax rate would redistribute how much each class of property will pay in taxes, but it wouldn’t change the total amount of money the town could raise. If the town decided that commercial property owners should pay more, the tax rate for residential property would decrease but the total amount of the tax levy would stay exactly the same. Franklin would still have to pass a Prop 2 1/2 override for the town's total tax revenue to increase. The Franklin Board of Assessors and Town Council have opposed a split tax rate, arguing that a single rate creates an incentive for businesses to locate in Franklin.

One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!

Additional information on the override can be found here:


Franklin, MA

Frequently asked questions: "Why do parents pay fees for their children to ride the bus?"

Why do parents pay fees for their children to ride the bus or participate in athletics?

Known as user fees, they were implemented to keep costs lower. Per state law, Franklin is only obligated to bus K-6 students that live at least two miles from school. Similar to 200+ Massachusetts communities, Franklin (i) collects a student pay-to-ride fee of $325, which represents two-thirds of the actual cost, and (ii) imposes athletic fees to help lower athletics’ cost or prevent their elimination. Importantly, the override will not result in decreased user or athletic fees but will only maintain current service levels and, if it fails, the School Committee will likely increase user and athletic fees.

One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!

Additional information on the override can be found here:



Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: Stephanie's Treasure Chest

The new thrift store downtown in the Berry Building had this street sign out on Saturday.



Updated: July 29, 2010
Unfortunately, the store is no longer in business

Franklin, MA

Franklin MA: Information Forum

The information forum was sparsely attended on Monday, May 24.

 
The presentation used by members of the Town Council, School Committee, Finance Committee and Financial Planning Committee (long term plan) can be found here:
http://franklinma.virtualtownhall.net/Pages/FranklinMA_BComm/financial%20planning%20committee%20report/midyear.pdf

The video recording of the session can be viewed on demand on the Franklin website here:
http://view.liveindexer.com/ViewIndexSessionSL.aspx?indexPointSKU=mGsI6gdlM4Tf2oFU7LAn9g%3d%3d



Franklin, MA

Senior Center - Expo - June 11th

From 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Friday, June 11th, the WMRC Senior Expo will be held at the Franklin Senior Center.

Additional details can be viewed in the flyer here:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io




Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the document.

Franklin, MA

Saturday, May 29, 2010

FM #69-B Scott Mason - Part 2 of 2

This is part two of two, the conversation with Town Council Chair Scott Mason. We covered the whole gamut of issues around the special election coming up June 8th on the $3 million override.

Time: 29 minutes, 47 seconds



MP3 File

Show Notes and Quotes:

Part 1 of this interview can be found here:
http://franklinmatters.blogspot.com/2010/05/fm-69-scott-mason-part-1-of-2.html

This segment picks up right where that one left off.
----

Franklin faces multiple issues
Override this year, potential shortage again next year, and then the high school renovation later next year

$100 million dollars is a wrong number for the high school
Three years ago when we started there was an estimate that if we did build a new school, it would be in the neighborhood of 100. But there was never any concrete pricing for that. I won't hold anyone on the committee to this but I think a renovation of the scope needed for this school would be in the neighborhood of $50-60 million with a state reimbursement of 50%

a debt exclusion is a different animal, an override is forever, a debt exclusion is for a set period, in this case for a school, 20 years. The actual taxes wouldn't actually hit our tax bills until 2014 or 2015 when the project is done

If we don't pass the debt exclusion on the states time line, we end up losing the 50% reimbursement, we would have to pay the full 100%.

Well unfortunately, there is not much of a decision to make, we have been on the brink of loosing our accreditation, that affects the ability of our kids to get into good colleges.

That school is 40 years old. “I was speaking with an owner of a bio-tech company, he goes to visit schools and he says Franklin is by far the worst.” He brings in equipment and the people don't even know what it is. We need to update the science labs, we need to make it ADA access compliant, the field house roof leaks, the floor tiles are asbestos and at the time it was okay to use, but when a tile is touched for construction like this, the state requires you remove them all. We do need some additional classrooms to handle the growth.

Bid packets have gone out to 23 architects to date so we expect to have some good responses, it is a long time line. Construction isn't slated to begin until the end of 2012. We're looking at the vote for debt exclusion would be about Nov 2011.

Moving to a more positive note as we don't want to keep asking the taxpayers for increases, there are efforts underway to foster the growth of businesses to Franklin

The Council just voted to lessen constraints for bio-tech companies to come into the Industrial Park where we have empty space. Franklin is advertising with trade and industry groups. Planning and Community Development is working hard.

One of the benefits we have here is a single tax rate, one of the best ways to attract business is with the single tax rate, one of the least likely ways to attract business is with a dual tax rate

There was a recent example of a company moving here
As reported in the Milford Daily News a week ago about a company in Forge Park, Congressman McGovern was touring the facility and asked why he chose Franklin, he decided to come here based upon the quality of the schools. “This speaks volumes to how important our educational system is and to maintaining it.” Here is a guy who could have saved a boat load of money going elsewhere. He has 200 employees, now living here, spend money here, support our community.

The Downtown Improvement Project is coming from State and Federal grants
About five or six years ago, we received $5 million from the Federal Government and another $1 million from the State to make improvements to the downtown. We hope to by redoing the streetscapes, to attract more businesses and people to congregate downtown.

The museum is kind of another one of those hot topics of late. There are a small contingent of people who say that was a complete waste of money. I would argue vehemently with them that not only was the timing perfect, the contractors bid lower than they would have been 2-3 years ago, we came in under budget. We were able to preserve town history, we were able to renovate a building and put it to use, where it would not have been salable, it's too small a parcel. We were going to let the building fall apart. Our historical artifacts were deteriorating, and the building they were in was not really safe to be in.

“My response is, you have a photo album at home, put it out on the street and leave it there for a year. That is effectively what we were doing.”

“Everything came together and it is a perfect example of what makes us a better town”

The building is open Thursday 5:00 – 8:00 PM, Saturday 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Materials on display that are absolutely amazing, arrowheads from before recorded history, the mill store complex was one of the first places that did uniforms for the Civil War. The pilot of the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagaski lived on Southgate for 20 years.

“I view it (museum) as the key stone of that whole project. It is going to draw people to it for educational and entertainment purposes and the best part of it it is free!”

“People get a little fuzzy when it comes to the general operating budget and the capital budget.” Capital money can only be used for certain things; purchase of vehicles, renovation of buildings, technology, equipment, can not be used for salaries.

In each department if there is excess funds in the budget over the year gets put into 'free cash'. The State certifies that and then we can use it for our capital budget. We buy 2 or 3 police cruisers to refresh the fleet. Put some toward a new fire truck.

To summarize at least to this point we have talked about DPW, police, fire, schools, the 2 ½ override decision, the long term growing the pie, is there anything else we need to cover

“There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the override, that is frustrating”

I hear things like “The Town is mismanaged, the town wastes money”, anyone that has looked at this data, that is just not possible.

You hear “you never do what you say you're going to do” That is not true, when we have an override, we shout from the top of our lungs to hear what our needs are and get the opportunity to ask questions, but then when it comes time for the layoffs, those are done behind closed doors. We have less people working for the Town this year, and last year, and so on and so forth.
Some say “We always find the money” we don't, we have pickle jars in the back of Town Hall, we had received money from a lawsuit, $6 million, but that was used overtime to avoid overrides. That money is long gone. We don't find money. We are well aware of what we have and what it is earmarked for. We don't ask for something we don't need. Excuses from people where they are misinformed or plain don't want to get the information.

We suffer from a great deal of voter apathy. 16% voted in our town elections, 80% voted for the president.

On June 8th don't go to vote alone. This is not unimportant stuff we are dealing with.

The affordability of the override is important.

I don't downplay the cost of the override to the average citizen. For the average household tax bill, it amounts to about 66 cents per day, 66 per thousand of assessment.

The people who come forward and say they can't afford to pay this and yet they would be the ones to stand to loose the most.

Tina Powderly did a great deal of work to make acceptance into the programs for the seniors broader. We have done telemarketing campaigns, the senior center newsletter highlights these, yet there is a small percent of people who actually take advantage of it.

If the override fails, we loose one fireman which reduces our ability to staff one ambulance. We are not happy about being put into that position.

June 8th high school field house between 6:00 AM and 8:00 PM
Contact the Town Clerk for details

Contact any of the Town Councilors (email contact info is available on the website).

Information available on the Town website, on Franklin Matters

“If there is something, I don't know, I will get you the answer.”


As I close this session this week, let me remind you that
If you like what I am doing here, please tell your friends and neighbors
If you don’t like something, please tell me

Thank you for listening!

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.blogspot.com/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!




Note: email subscribers will need to click through to listen to the audio recording

FM #69-A Scott Mason - Part 1 of 2

This is part one of a conversation with Town Council Chair Scott Mason. We sat on the Town Common and talked for 50 minutes covering the whole gamut of issues around the Special Election Override vote scheduled for June 8th.

Time: 28 minutes, 7 seconds



MP3 File

Show Notes and Quotes:


This internet radio show or podcast
Number 69 in the series for Franklin Matters.

This is a special edition and divided in two parts for ease of listening. I sat on the Franklin Town Common to catch up with Town Council Chair Scott Mason. We spent about 50 minutes covering the whole gamut of issues around the special election coming up June 8th

As we did sit out in the open on the Common, there will be some background noise from a passing police car siren and then one of the groundskeepers finishing up some of the mowing getting ready for Memorial Day weekend. I was able to remove most of the mowing noise without hindering the conversation with Scott.

Notes and quotes from the first segment

busy with the informational meetings
what does it mean to services if the override passes or if the override fails
there are some people only peripherally aware of the election
there are some people who no matter what the issue is they don't want to hear about tax increases
there are some people who appreciate the information being provided

Long term planning committee, developed the five year outlook for Franklin
there is an over-reliance on state aid, we are a well run community
need to increase the tax base one way is to increase taxes

Prop 2 ½ specifically gives the voters the choice on the level of services to be provided
An opportunity to invest in Franklin and see the direct benefits from your tax dollars

We have had to be creative with less
I hear “We are poorly managed” and that is far from the truth
we get a lot of bang for the buck here in Franklin
Lost 100 teachers over last five years, yet increased 1,000 students in the same period
if we lost so many, how can there be waste?

We have lost 50 Town employees in the same period

Observation that the schools are quicker now, calling a snow day due to the time it takes to clear the sidewalks and roads, because it takes longer these days

“Rumor dejour” “everybody in DPW got new trucks” it is just not true
The vehicles are well taken care of
the Bucket truck was purchased used and came with a paint job
Instead of $130,000 brand new it was purchased for about $30,000

the police dispatchers, if override doesn't pass, could be an issue
if we get two calls at the same time, or back to back, there could be an extra wait
if that is for a health issue, that could be a real problem with response
Council not happy with creating that situation

Schools 'have too many administrators'
we are below average in all eleven categories for those tracked by the DESE
for the administrators, we are under the state avg by 52%

class sizes will increase to 28 and to 30
the level of interaction with the teachers goes away
the high performing students won't be affected as much but the vulnerable one will see it

“our most vulnerable citizens stand to suffer the most if this override doesn't pass”
As the schools accounted for over half of the overall town budget

80% of the budget is teachers – due to all the other cuts made over the years
class trips cut, books cut, they are provided by PCC or other means but not by the Town

teacher cuts are not the only place the pain will be felt
athletic fees will increase to $175 and be on a tiered scale up to $450 for hockey
activity fees will increase to $50

“Jeff Roy has said we are supposed to be in the business of providing a free education but it is no longer free”

for parents, particularly with kid sin high school, it should be cheaper pay for the override versus the athletic and activity fee increases

eliminate three buses, longer commutes
truncating one day by an hour or so at the elementary schools to save three teachers

“it has been a general philosophy around the world to increase the length of the school days and here we are in Franklin shortening the day”

if the override doesn't pas this year, next year they'll be looking at more teacher layoffs, they'll look at full day kindergarten possibly going to half day, they'll look at athletics again

“I can't imagine a high school sports tradition like Franklin has and having to cut it”

“At the end of the day,the voters are going to decide what type of town they want to live in”

Thank you for listening!

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.blogspot.com/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!



Part 2 can be found here:
http://franklinmatters.blogspot.com/2010/05/fm-69-b-scott-mason-part-2-of-2.html

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to listen to the audio recording

Frequently asked questions: "Can’t we keep using money from the stabilization fund"

Can’t we keep using money from the stabilization fund to get rid of our budget deficits?

No. Using one-time monies to pay for ongoing costs is what leads to deficits. The funds we have set aside now are the minimum we need to have on hand in the event of a disaster or serious emergency. If we use any more of this revenue to pay for annual costs, the money won’t exist to help the town through a crisis. And once the money is spent, how would the town continue to pay for important services year after year? If the town decided to use the entire $5 million rainy day fund in the town’s fiscal 2011 budget, how would it find that same amount when it came time to pay for the fiscal 2012 budget?

One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!

Additional information on the override can be found here:


Franklin, MA

Frequently asked questions: "Will the override affect the Charter School?"

My children are in a Charter School. Will the override affect them?

Yes, Charter Schools are funded based on a per pupil expenditure. In other words, tuition for each Franklin student sent to a charter school is the same amount Franklin spends on education per student. So if Franklin spends on education per student than they would if the override passes, charter schools would also receive less tuition for each Franklin student that attends.

One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!

Additional information on the override can be found here:


Franklin, MA

In the News - Art, Veterans

Flag-burning art decried in Franklin

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin veterans remembered

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 



Franklin, MA

Friday, May 28, 2010

Frequently asked questions: "The town officials have found money"

The town officials have found money in the past. They’ll find it again this time, won’t they?

Town and school leaders have done what they could to protect services for the community. The most critical issue facing Franklin is its dangerous reliance on state aid. We rank 1st out of 30 peer communities in the percent of town revenue that comes from state aid. But state aid is a revenue source over which we have no control. In fact, our over-reliance on state aid was cited by Moody’s Investors Service as a reason for downgrading Franklin’s bond rating in late 2009. The state aid we have come to rely on is estimated to decrease in the years ahead.


In the past, Franklin was able to protect core services by annually tapping into additional sources of revenue to avoid the need for property tax overrides. Those funding sources are no longer available. Franklin also has used legal settlement proceeds (which have been spent), incremental property tax revenue associated with rapid population growth (which has dried up almost completely), one-time revenues such as federal stimulus funds (which are set to expire after this year), and money from our emergency fund. We cannot continue to rely on one-time wind falls or state aid. It’s time to decide the type of community we are willing to fund as citizens and taxpayers.

One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!


Additional information on the override can be found here:



Franklin, MA

Joint message on the June 8th special election

A joint message from Scott Mason, Town Council Chair; Jim Roche, Finance Committee Chair; and Jeffrey Roy, School Committee Chair to all the citizens of Franklin, MA:


Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io



How busy are the Police in Franklin?

If the three dispatchers do get cut, there is a chance that when you call 911 in the off hours instead of talking directly to someone, you will end up hearing a recording something like "You have reached the Franklin Police, please leave a message after the beep".

How busy are the police in Franklin? They post their Daily Log of activity, call by call each morning for the prior day. The weekends tend to be a shorter report; the week days a busier report.

Let's just pick Wednesday of this week for your review:
http://franklinma.virtualtownhall.net/Pages/FranklinMA_Police/may2010/may252010.pdf

You can choose a daily log from the monthly selection here:
http://franklinma.virtualtownhall.net/Pages/FranklinMA_Police/newlogs



Franklin, MA


Senator Karen E. Spilka Re-Election Reception & Food Pantry Collection

Senator Karen E. Spilka Re-Election Reception and Food Pantry Collection

Join us for a Reception & Food Pantry Collection* for Senator Karen E. Spilka, 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk District – Ashland, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway, Natick
Chair, Economic Development and Emerging Technologies

Monday, June 7, 2010, 5:30-7:00 PM
at Ken’s Steakhouse, 95 Worcester Road, (Rt. 9), Framingham, MA 01701

Suggested Donation: $25 - $50 - $100 – but whatever you can contribute is accepted with appreciation!

*Please bring an item to donate to the food pantry *


Franklin, MA

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Frequently asked questions: "What has the town done to try to eliminate waste and bring spending under control?"

What has the town done to try to eliminate waste and bring spending under control?


·   Streamlined operations


o Centralized administrative functions (e.g., facilities, HR, IT, accounting)


o Automated processes using information technology (e.g., payroll system)


·   Reduced employee benefits


o Increased employee medical co-pays, saving $200K per year


·   Increased volunteerism ( e.g., Senior Center reported 10,000 volunteer hours per year)


·   Enhanced revenue


o Residents passed a $2.7M override in 2007


o Leased space on water tanks for cell towers


o Increased fees for services (e.g., sports participation fees, bus service)


o Approved a 0.75% meals tax that will take effect in FY 2010


o Agreed to share recreation services and our library director with Medway


·   Spent cash reserves (e.g., used $7.5M 2005 to 2008)


·   Delayed repairs to the public way (e.g., roads and sidewalks)


·   Town and school employees agreed to defer pay increases in FY 2010


·   Reduced headcount


o Loss of more than 100 teaching positions


o Loss of 7 school administrative positions


o Loss of 32 municipal positions


·   Held the line on department recommendations to increase headcount. For example, the number of police officers remains the same today as in 1999, despite a 12% increase in town population and a two-fold increase in number of police calls.


The fundamental financial problems the town faces have not been caused by waste, but by Franklin’s rapid growth over the last two decades. That growth dramatically increased the need for services like professional, well-staffed police and fire departments, updated streets and sidewalks, sewers and water lines, additional recreational facilities, and better schools. But the town’s ability to raise revenue through property taxes is restricted by the state law, and fixed costs for things like contractual obligations, utilities and health insurance keep increasing.

One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!

Additional information on the override can be found here:



Franklin, MA

Spruce Pond - Building Blue

The Charles River Watershed Association presentation on Monday evening (May 24) covered a study of the Spruce Pond area in Franklin. Spruce Pond is visible along King St and runs above ground behind Parmenter and portions eventually run in an underground culvert through the Fletcher St fields on their way to Mine Brook and eventually to the Charles River.

Background information on the project can be found on the CRWA page here
http://www.crwa.org/projects/blue_franklin.html


The map above outlines in the yellowish lines the area of the study along Spruce Pond and related streams.

Some of the work scheduled to be done this summer as Wachusetts St is rebuilt will include some waste water treatment on the grounds of the Parmenter School. Some of the run off from the street will flow into a rain garden on the grassy area in front of the school.

-------
Yes, the meeting was broadcast but the recording failed so it is not available for review. The presentation document is available here:
http://franklinmatters.blogspot.com/2010/06/spruce-pond-building-blue-presentation.html


Franklin, MA


Sir Ken Robinson on education

For something inspiring, view the following video clip:



If you missed the original TED Talk from Ken Robinson, you can find it here:
http://franklinmatters.blogspot.com/2009/01/creativity-should-be-priority.html

Franklin, MA

In the News - birthdays

By Ashley Studley/Daily News correspondent
Posted May 27, 2010 @ 12:45 AM
Horace Mann Middle School students know a good party when they see it.
From Barbie Jeeps to Hannah Montana concerts, one group of students looked back on their special birthdays fondly yesterday afternoon, and remembered that not everyone is as fortunate.
That's why they raised about $500 for the Birthday Wishes charity to provide homeless children with birthday parties.
"You just threw an entire party," shelter coordinator Rachel Freeman said yesterday. "You just made a lot of kids really happy."


Franklin, MA


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bear seen in Hopedale today

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:



via The Milford Daily News News RSS by Krista Perry/Daily News staff on 5/26/10

Black bear Bellingham
A black bear was spotted around 12:30 p.m. today near the intersection of Hopedale and Dutcher Streets, police said.
Police said someone was running in the parklands section of town and spotted the bear near a bath house on the trail near those streets. The runner and the bear startled each other, police said. Police said the bear showed no signs of aggression.
Police are hanging signs in the area and urging residents to take down their bird feeders and cover their trash cans.
Last Friday, a large, adult male bear was spotted on Lynn Court in Bellingham going through backyards, said Franklin and Bellingham Animal Control Officer Tracey Taddeo.
Taddeo thinks there is more than one bear roaming around the area because last Thursday, another bear was spotted in Bellingham, but it only looked to be about a year old. Taddeo said a few Franklin residents called officials about bear sightings Sunday and Monday, and there is no way a bear could get from Franklin to Hopedale in only a few days.
People should keep an eye on their dogs, Taddeo said, because if they approach a bear, the bear will defend itself. Otherwise, the bears are not meat eaters, said Taddeo.
"They aren't interested in eating cats or humans,'' said Taddeo. "They're interested in sweets, bird seed, berries. They'll go through your trash looking for jelly or twinkies or HoHos."
Anyone who sees a bear should contact Hopedale Police at 508-634-2227 or the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at 508-389-6300.

Things you can do from here:

Frequently asked questions: "Why should I give the town more of my hard-earned money?"

I have heard people criticize the way the town is run. If that’s true, why should I give the town more of my hard-earned money?

Not everyone agrees with every decision made by town and school officials. The facts show Franklin is relatively well run. Our students have excellent test scores and graduation rates, yet we spend below-average per pupil compared to similar-sized communities. Our crime rate and rate of fires are among the lowest in the state. Our recreation programs are hugely popular. Independent rating agencies give the town’s financial management high marks. Our tax rate is the lowest in the area. Our median home price is among the highest. Thanks to great representation on Beacon Hill, we receive well more than our share of state aid. Hundreds of volunteer citizens help keep Franklin a great place to live.


Since 1989, more than 3,500 Proposition 2 1/2 override votes have occurred in communities across Massachusetts. About 40 percent of the time citizens have agreed to raise their own property taxes for the good of their community.


No one likes to pay more taxes, especially in tough economic times, and people can debate any number of town and school decisions and policies. But the urgent issue Franklin faces is whether its voters want to pay about $1 more a day to retain our dispatchers and 2nd ambulance, keep staffing and book budget in place at the library, AND stabilize our educational programs and access to sports and extra curriculars.


Here is what is at stake:
                 
Item
Override Fails
Override Passes
Personnel
Loss of:
7 elementary teachers
8 middle school teachers
Staffing remains at FY10 levels
Fees
Club and activity fees at middle and high school will double to $50.  Athletic fees will increase and move to a tiered system, resulting in fees ranging from $175 to $450 (up from current $125 fee)
No fee increases
Class sizes
Increases in class sizes in grades K-8, up to 30 students in a classroom,  and a shortened school day at elementary schools
No changes
Transportation
Elimination of 3 buses
No change in service
Police
Loss of three police dispatchers; potential implementation of recorded service for emergency call system; less coverage of parking meters and parking enforcement downtown.
No change in service
Fire
Loss of one firefighter; uncertainty on availability of 2nd ambulance; revenue loss from ambulance fees
No change in service
DPW
Needed roadway repairs delayed indefinitely; 3 less employees; slower response times
Road repairs begin
Library
Loss of one employee; reduction in book budget of over $60,000.
No changes










One of a series to address frequently asked questions
http://investinfranklin.weebly.com/faq-part-1.html


------------


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)

Or

Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:

  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th


You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!


Additional information on the override can be found here:





Franklin, MA

School Committee - 05/25/10

The collection of posts from the School Committee meeting on Tuesday May 25, 2010 can be found here:






Franklin, MA