Friday, February 22, 2019

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Board of Assessors

Interim Revaluation
The interim revaluation of all real and personal property in the Town of Franklin was completed Fall 2017 in preparation for Actual Fiscal Year 2018 3rd quarter tax bills. Following is a brief review of that achievement.

Data Collection
Sixteen years have now passed since we installed the real estate valuation and assessment administration software developed by Patriot Properties, Inc. Because our start-up data was from a different form of valuation system and most of our data had not been refreshed in nearly ten years, it was necessary to complete a town-wide data recollection program prior to finalizing the FY 2005 valuations. Patriot Properties was hired for this task. Over the past 13 years, our appraisal staff has performed the on-going property exterior measuring and interior inspecting for all real estate classes. Such reviews are done for the Department of Revenue (DOR) required cyclical program, as well as for building permitted changes, pre-appraisal and abatement verifications.

Field Review
In addition to individual property on-site review, field reviews are required periodically to check for obvious data accuracy and consistency. This driveby review provides another level of assurance that when valuation schedules are applied, the results will be “Fair and Equitable”.

Commercial/Industrial/Apartment Valuations
Annually there are analyses of sales data as well as income & expense market data. The Board contracted Patriot to work with our Director to establish an income approach to value for each property. All requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue were met through final approval of the FY 2018 valuations.

Sales Analysis
The majority of the sales analysis was completed by September 2017, and the interpretation of sales continued through the next two stages of valuation. The town-wide program resulted in a valuation system that was applied uniformly throughout the town, while reflecting all the adjustments warranted individually and by neighborhood, to result in “Full and Fair Cash Values” as per Massachusetts General Law.

Value Generation
A system of valuation was established based on valid property sales and where applicable the income approach to value. These schedules concluded from the market were then uniformly applied to all taxable and exempt real property.

Final Value Review
Final reviews were completed in preparation for the DOR review. These include studies of various computer-generated reports to check for value consistency, final field checks required, and for DOR documentation and its analyses.

DOR Review & Final Approval
Any on-site and statistical reviews by the DOR took place from April to September 2017. The appraisal staff provided files, generated property records, answered questions and addressed any concerns. At the conclusion of the DOR review, we were granted approval authorizing public disclosure.

Public Disclosure
The DOR approved valuations were available for disclosure to the property owners. While the administrative staff provided property record cards and general data reviews, the appraisers conducted informal hearings on valuations.

Personal Property
Business assets and those of utilities are reviewed for valuation as taxable Personal Property. For seventeen fiscal years we have engaged the specialized services of Real Estate Research Consultants (RRC) in the discovery and valuation of these accounts. These services have served us well, resulting in DOR approval and consistently defendable valuations. Also, considerable new growth has been certified annually. Additionally, the RRC Personal Property Software installed in our office has benefited us. The personal property valuation formulas are very straightforward, and the administrative capabilities have met our needs.

Classification Hearing & Tax Commitment
Following some discussion and a few presentations relative to single versus split tax rates, the Council approved a single tax rate at $14.65 per $1,000 of taxable value as calculated by the Board for all property classes. The tax commitment and mailing were timely for an actual 3rd quarter tax bill.

Abatement Reviews
Upon mailing of the tax bills and on or before the due date of the first actual bill, property owners have an opportunity to file an Abatement Application on the basis of overvaluation or misclassification. 61 abatements applications were filed of 11,524 taxable accounts, or just under 6/10ths of 1%. Generally those with merit were resolved through our conducting a complete on-site exterior measuring and interior inspection. Usually a valuation discrepancy is the result of a data error or as a result of an inspection appointment not being arranged and thus the property data having been “estimated”.

Technology Improvements
In addition to our state-of-the-art software for the valuation and administration of both real and personal property, Cartographic Associates, now CAI Technologies of Littleton, NH has continued to maintain the digital/GIS-mapping program it first completed for us for FY 2005. Following aerial photography and planimetric (physical features) mapping, CAI constructed cadastral tax maps (depicting parcels) through the use of over 5,000 plans and over 15,000 deeds. These new maps are continuously in our process of reconciliation with our property records for consistency in both parcel inventory and land area. With the support of Town Administrator Jeff Nutting and the Town Council, we have capacity in our Patriot software to link and utilize the maps with our assessment data file. In addition, for the past thirteen years we have provided our tax maps on the web for the benefit of both the Town staff and the general public.

Appraisal & Administrative Staffing
The use of automation has minimized the former heavy burden of traditional data processing. Due to this and numerous other office improvements, the Town approved our Staff Restructuring Plan. We have adjusted our administrative support staff to Board Secretary Anne Covell who is responsible for continuing to improve our service to the public at the counter and by phone. She focuses her efforts on providing and reviewing public records, Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Commitments and Abatements, Exemption Applications, the general and specific support to the Appraisal Staff and any other assignments as required. She continues to train in various administrative duties and computer applications. We thank Anne for her diligence in 38 years of service to the Board. The Appraisers have made special efforts in the development and implementation of usable written instructions for the assessing office procedures and for MUNIS financial software applications. These instructions were developed consistent with all Mass. General Law and DOR requirements.

Appraisers
We thank Kevin W. Doyle, Director of Assessing for his diligence especially as Director beginning following his first two years here. He has overseen the completion of all our work these past seventeen fiscal years, six full revaluations and eleven interim years of market adjustments. We also acknowledge the support work of Appraiser David Ruberti since July 2005 and of Appraiser Peter Mooney since August 2004. Our Director received his Massachusetts Accredited Assessor (MAA) in 1990 and the MAAO Wilson Award in June 2013. Within the past eleven years both Appraisers completed their designation required education and experience, being granted their MAA designations and maintaining the periodic recertification required.

Town Revenue Enhancements
In addition to meeting all state requirements as well as daily office oversight, the Director and Appraisers have achieved many additional improvements to benefit the Town taxpayers. One such is the efficiencies built into the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Commitment and Abatement processes in conjunction with the new MUNIS tax software installation. These excise taxes represent about 5 million dollars in locally raised annual revenue, or about 6.3% of locally raised tax revenue. We assure the citizens that like real and personal property, taxes on these are assessed and abated appropriately and uniformly for the maximum benefit of all. Registry of Motor Vehicles’ automation aided the Director and Appraisers to further enhance revenue in assessing dealer and repair plate registrations. As well, with the automation improvements of the Environmental Police, this professional staff successfully developed a new annual revenue stream in the identification and assessment of excise taxes on boats principally situated in the Town of Franklin.

On-site Periodic Property Reviews
Because we have initiated the cyclical property remeasurement and re-inspection program acceptable to the Massachusetts DOR, we continue to make various public information efforts to assure property owners have advance information about this on-going program. Briefly, please note that the purpose of these property visits is to verify that the correct data is being used in the determination of valuations to achieve “full and fair cash value” in accordance with Mass. General Law Chapter 59. The Board appreciates the general public’s cooperation in its efforts to serve all property owners of all property types to assure fair and uniform values.

Your Elected Board of Assessors
Before entering the performance of his/her duties, each Assessor upon election has taken the oath of office specific to assessors. Massachusetts General Law has provided that because the DOR Commissioner of Revenue has regulatory oversight of assessing in every city and town, the Commissioner likewise determines the training requirements for the assessors and any assistants. At this time, the Commissioner has determined Course 101, including the Classification Training Workshop, meets the minimum requirements. All three assessors have completed these and have been certified as such by the Commissioner of Revenue. The Board looks forward to continuing education opportunities offered by the MA DOR and the professional associations, the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers (MAAO) and the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). The assessors have attended seminars and workshops to broaden and reinforce their understanding of property tax law.

In particular, the Board has focused on current and possible future tax relief and deferral options for Franklin’s elder citizens. To that goal following meetings of the Town Senior Outreach Committee, last fall the Board, its Staff and the Office of the Council on Aging continued a broad-based effort to reach seniors. This resulted in successfully providing tax relief (exemption) information to additional seniors who owned and occupied their homes. Also, with the valued assistance of Veterans’ Agent Dale Kurtz, special efforts were made to identify veterans and their surviving spouses entitled to state exemptions, much of it reimbursable to the Town. We look forward to continuing to work with him in supporting our veterans.

All these efforts are consistent with the Board of Assessors commitment to meet its challenges as key Town Financial Team members to the benefit of all the citizens of the Town of Franklin. The Assessing Department is now officially a part of the Franklin Finance Division headed by newly hired Finance Director Christopher Sandini who also serves as Comptroller, replacing Susan Gagner who we wish well in her retirement. Also retiring was Treasurer-Collector Jim Dacey with whom we worked cooperatively over these past 2 decades and we wish him well in his retirement. We welcome Kerri Bertone as the new Treasurer-Collector and look forward to cooperative and productive work with Kerri into Franklin’s future.

As we write, the Board of Assessors and its Staff are preparing to finalize the Real and Personal Property Appraisal files for the Fiscal Year 2019 Interim Year Update subject to DOR review and Final Approval.

Respectfully submitted,
W. Ken Norman, Chairman of the Board
Christopher K. Feeley, Assessor, Clerk
Donna Greenwood, Assessor, Member

Franklin Board of Assessors


You can read the full Annual Report for 2018 online
https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/franklinma/files/uploads/franklin_2018_town_report.pdf

The archive of prior year annual reports
https://www.franklinma.gov/town-clerk/pages/annual-reports

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Board of Assessors
Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Board of Assessors

Harlem Wizards in March 2009

Family fun at Tri-County. Harlem Wizards played the Sullivan Rockets in a fund raiser for the PCC in March 2009. Yes, this I think was the first visit of the Wizards. They have returned for several years as a fund raiser for the Franklin Education Foundation (FEF).




Harlem Wizards

or go directly to Flickr
https://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_sherlock/sets/72157615252282453/with/3357418568/

On this date: Feb 22, 2010

On this date: actually juggling a day since I hadn't published on 2/21/09; here in 2010, I did a weekly summary for the prior week (published on 2/21/10).

Yes, back in the day, I experimented on how to deliver the info and for a period of time I did a weekly summary. This gives a look at the week that was in 2010. Remember when?

"The winter school break is ending, the Olympics are underway, let's just take about ten minutes to keep current with what matters here in Franklin, MA as the week ends February 21, 2010  
In this session I’ll go back to cover the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb 10. In particular, their decision to reduce the annual curbside solid waste and recycling fee and implement minor increase to fees for Beaver St and to handle specific large items.  
Time: 12 minutes, 48 seconds"

https://www.franklinmatters.org/2010/02/fm-58-week-ending-22110.html

The single stream system we use today was introduced in July 2010. It has been a great success. Yet, it was looked upon as a major head ache and fraught with problems and issues in the run up to the implementation.

Franklin trash and recycle bins or totters
Franklin trash and recycle bins or totters


Franklin Police add therapy dog

Chief Thomas J. Lynch is excited to announce the addition of a Police Therapy Dog to the Department. Therapy dogs are used to comfort people who have been involved in a trauma, or stressful event. They can also help de-escalate situations, and bring a calming presence to a scene.

The 3 month old golden retriever named “Ben Franklin”, will work within the Community Services Division. In addition to responding to calls for service, Ben will regularly visit the schools, senior center, and community events.

Chief Lynch said “There are only a few communities in Massachusetts so far that have embraced therapy dogs as a way to engage, and serve the public. We are proud of the efforts made by the Community Services Division, under the direction of Lieutenant Mark Manocchio, to bring this program online. We see Ben as being a public face of our Agency, and a symbol of our commitment to use all available resources to better serve our residents.”

Ben’s training is being generously donated by Masterpeace Dog Training of Franklin.

Franklin Police add therapy dog
Franklin Police add therapy dog

Thursday, February 21, 2019

It is time for your turn

Now it is time for your turn!

You come here often. You see what I do on Facebook.

I share an article, share a photo.

Something about Franklin that matters to me and that I hope will help you understand a little more of what goes on around town. There is much good that does go on. Good news doesn’t get headlines unfortunately.

I will be away for a couple of weeks and while that is not unusual, this time I don’t expect to have internet access to be able to keep tabs on what is happening while I am away. Or to keep posting on Facebook.

So this is time for your turn.

Be bold, share something that matters to you on what is happening around town.

Share a photo.

If you follow high school sports, share what’s happening to the FHS teams as reported by HockomockSports.com or Tri-County via their Twitter feed or one of the newspapers.

Be bold, do good.


It is time for your turn
It is time for your turn 

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Town Clerk’s Office

The Town Clerk’s Office is dedicated to providing friendly, professional service to all citizens. I am extremely proud of how well my staff performs and responds to the demands of the office. Please stop by and say hello!

This past year has been another exciting one! I am very pleased and proud to announce my assistant Nancy Danello and I have completed an extensive 3 year program at the New England Municipal Clerks Institute and Academy towards obtaining our CMC certification.

I hope our residents are as pleased as I am with the convenience and ease of our online software. This has been a convenient way for the public to request and purchase birth, death and marriage certificates. This improvement has also been a great success for our dog owners who need to license a new dog or who must renew their yearly dog license. These document requests and payment options are available online anytime of the day, 7 days a week. To use this service, visit the town website at franklinma.gov and follow to the Town Clerk’s Department.

Population
The total population for FY2017 Census is now 33,871.

Welcome to our New Residents
We continue with our welcome letters to all new residents. Along with a census form, we also send voter registration applications at this time to encourage voter participation: We invite all new residents to stop by the Clerk’s office… it’s a nice way to meet their Town officials and be introduced to the Municipal Building and the many services that are offered here in Town. If you’d like a Voter Registration Form sent to you; just call 508-520-4900 or email (tburr@franklinma.gov) you may also register online at (www.registertovotema.com).

Businesses
A total of 275 businesses were opened or renewed in Franklin during 2017. We wish them the best of luck. All non-incorporate/DBA businesses, according to MGL, shall register with the Town Clerk prior to commencing business. This certificate is valid for four years at a charge of $40.00. Banks will send their customers to us before allowing them to open a business account. This helps us to keep our records updated. We follow up with telephone calls as a reminder!

Underground Storage Tanks/Hazardous Material
Underground storage of gasoline permits are a total of 14 and 17 hazardous material permits. No new certificates have been filed with this office by the Fire Department during 2017.

Planning /Appeal Board Applications
All applications and decisions are permanent record and may be researched at any time through the Town Clerk’s office. Elsewhere in this report you will find our index of applicants/decisions during the year 2017.

Code of Franklin
The Town of Franklin Code Book is maintained and updated through this office, both in hard copy, and on the web at www.franklinma.gov. This book contains all the rules, regulations, by-laws and acts of the Town.

Town Clerk Directory
Our Directory of Town, State and County Officials booklet is available here in the Clerk’s office. This booklet has been a very useful tool to employers, committees, managers and residents. Other publications available in the Clerk’s office are Subdivision and Zoning Regulations and Maps, Resident Listing Books.

Record Retention Schedule
I have continued to keep our records in the best possible order as mandated through the Secretary of State’s office. All of our books are bound, microfilmed and stored in the Town Clerk’s vault each year. This is the history of Franklin and its’ residents and I take pride in maintaining a filing system that continues the safety of each volume.

Vital Records
Certified records of birth, deaths and marriage records are available through the Clerk’s office. They are copied on safety paper at a charge of $10.00 for the first copy and $5.00 per additional. As a note, when you need a copy of your birth record, remember that it is always filed in the town where your mother was living at the time of your birth, the hospital community and the Office of Vital Records in Boston, MA. You can order online on the town clerks web page through Viewpoint.

Dog Licensing
We have over 4,049 registered dogs in Franklin. Dog registration is a State Law requirement. Dogs are required to be licensed to be sure that they are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Dogs should be licensed at 6 months and older. Licenses are $20.00 (altered) $30.00 (non altered) due by April 1st of each year with a late fee of $30.00 added to the tag fee after April 1st. Residents with (4) or more dogs need to acquire a kennel license through ZBA.

Conclusion
I’m sure you will agree that our office is certainly a very busy one! We find so often that people will call our office first for information when needing assistance and we always welcome their calls and will try to assist them or send them in the right direction. It’s nice to know that people feel comfortable calling or visiting the Clerk’s office for assistance.

I would like to thank my staff, Nancy Danello, Assistant Town Clerk, Michelle Marek, Assistant Election Administrator and Susan Merullo, Administrative Assistant for their dedication and commitment. I would also like to thank the department managers and their staff for their support throughout the past year.

Respectfully submitted,
Teresa M. Burr
Town Clerk / Election Administrator
Notary Public / Justice of the Peace




You can read the full Annual Report for 2018 online
https://www.franklinma.gov/sites/franklinma/files/uploads/franklin_2018_town_report.pdf

The archive of prior year annual reports
https://www.franklinma.gov/town-clerk/pages/annual-reports

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Town Clerk’s Office
Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Town Clerk’s Office

Autism & Creating a Fulfilling Life for the Family and Child with Special Needs - Feb 28

Autism & Creating a Fulfilling Life for the Family and Child with Special Needs

Join us as we welcome author, journalist, public speaker and special needs parent Susan Senator. Susan is the mother of three boys, the oldest of whom has severe autism. Using her experiences and speaking from the heart, Susan speaks about the impact that autism has had on her family. She has authored books including: Making Peace with Autism, Autism Adulthood, and The Autism Mom's Survival Guide. Susan speaks around the country and maintains a blog and website, www.susansenator.com.

When: Thursday, February 28 at 7:00 PM
Where: Third floor Training Room of the Franklin Municipal Building, 255 East Central Street, Franklin, MA.

This event is free and open to the public.

If you have any suggestions for workshops or social events for the kids, please send us an email at franklinsepac@gmail.com.

WWW.FRANKLINSEPAC.ORG


Franklin SEPAC: Autism & Creating a Fulfilling Life for the Family and Child with Special Needs
Franklin SEPAC: Autism & Creating a Fulfilling
Life for the Family and Child with Special Needs

Gallery 218 - the K-12 Art Gallery

Gallery 218 was the K-12 Art Gallery for Franklin Public Schools at the old FHS building. These photos were from one of the shows featuring art from alumni (including my daughter - Allie)




Gallery218


or go directly to Flickr
https://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_sherlock/albums/72157613647068690

On this date: Feb 21, 2009 - energy efficiency

In 2009, I find I did skip posting on 2/21/09, and shared the Milford Daily News article about energy efficiency steps being taken by Franklin on 2/22. These energy efficiency steps are being continued today.
"Michael D'Angelo, the facilities director for the schools and the town, takes pride in Franklin taking the lead in using technological advances early in the game. 
"We were doing it before it was popular," said D'Angelo, who is constantly researching ways to make the schools as energy-efficient as possible - he's currently eyeing the installation of solar panels three years down the road, when he says they will be cost-effective."
Read the post in the archives for 2/22/09
https://www.franklinmatters.org/2009/02/you-dont-see-difference.html

Franklin was named a "green community" in 2018. One of the reasons it took so long to get named is we were already too efficient to qualify for the state designation.
https://www.franklinmatters.org/2018/06/franklin-green-community-recognition.html

Franklin Green Community recognition event - Jun 7, 2018
Franklin Green Community recognition event - Jun 7, 2018

Franklin Police complete ONE MIND pledge

The ­­­­­­­­­­Franklin Police Department is pleased to announce that they have completed a pledge they took to improve their response to those suffering from mental illness in their community. The pledge is part of an initiative called the One Mind Campaign started by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a 30,000 member professional association for law enforcement that provides training, technical assistance, and recruitment services. To join the One Mind Campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices in a 12-36 month period to ensure successful future interactions between police officers and persons with mental illness.

In the law enforcement community, mental illness has become a common focus, with some departments estimating that as many as 20% of their calls for service are related to mental health declines. Chief Thomas J. Lynch made the decision to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s One Mind Campaign because the need to better our interactions with those suffering mental illness was being seen in daily response to calls for service.

In completing the One Mind Pledge, the Franklin Police Department established a sustainable partnership with a local mental health organization, developed and implemented a model policy to address officers’ interactions with those affected by mental illness, and ensured that all of their officers received some type of mental health awareness training, with at least twenty percent of the department completing the more intensive Crisis Intervention Training. 

The 40-hour Crisis Intervention curriculum is designed by local agencies to train a team of specialized officers to respond to calls that involve individuals with mental health disorders such as depression or intellectual disability. The curriculum includes education on various de-escalation techniques as well as live role-play scenarios of officers responding to persons who need mental health assistance.

Other initiatives that the Franklin Police Department has pursued in response to the needs of the community include the Jail Diversion Program, which brought in a Masters level mental health clinician as a co-responder with police officers on calls for service related to mental health problems.
Franklin Police complete ONE MIND pledge
Franklin Police complete ONE MIND pledge

Chief Lynch stated: “I’m proud of my officers for being partners in this pledge not just because it was a Departmental goal to improve our response to these types of calls, but because we have the genuine opportunity to better serve our community. Police officers by nature want to help people. Giving our officers the skills to better serve all aspects of our population only serves to create better outcomes for all involved.”

For more information about the One Mind Campaign, please visit the IACP’s website: http://www.theiacp.org/onemindcampaign/. A list of all agencies who have taken the pledge is also available there.

Health Connector for Small Business Presentation Offered in Franklin

The Franklin Downtown Partnership and the Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce are hosting a presentation by the New England Business Association titled "Health Connector for Small Business: An Informational Session" on Tuesday, March 5 from 8 AM to 9:30 AM. The session, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Campanella Board Room of Dean College’s Campus Center, 99 Main St., Franklin.

Health Connector for Small Business
Health Connector for Small Business
The presentation will explain the new Massachusetts Health Connector shopping platform for small business. The platform makes it easier for small businesses to offer health insurance to their employees. Employers can choose from a variety of plans by multiple providers.

Pre-registration is required. Register online at www.newenglandbusiness.org/events. Contact Sophia at sophia@newenglandbusiness.org or 781-890-9070, ext. 221 with questions.