Saturday, December 29, 2007

Franklin Center Commons - east bound view

I don't know. I think the building looks like dirty snow.

How will it look in summer?

What do you think?

Franklin Center Commons - west bound view

Friday, December 28, 2007

November home sales hit 13-year low in MA

Home sales dropped 12.6 percent in November compared to a year ago as the residential real estate market continued a sluggish autumn stretch.

The Massachusetts Associated of Realtors yesterday reported that 2,986 single-family homes were sold last month, compared to 3,416 sold in November 2006. It was the slowest November since 1994, when 2,847 home sales were recorded.

The statewide median home price held steady at $330,000 compared to October but was down nearly 3 percent compared to a year ago, the Waltham-based trade group said yesterday.

You can read the details online at the Milford Daily News

Thursday, December 27, 2007

20 Reasons to Not Implement a Dual Tax Rate

Thanks to the President of the United Chamber of Commerce, for providing this information:

20 Reasons to Not Implement a Dual Tax Rate

The issue of whether or not to have a dual tax rate is extremely complex, and can be deceptive. Unfortunately, the way a business is taxed is integrally different from the way a resident is taxed, which results, in itself, in a great deal of confusion. Many proponents do not have all the data needed to be fully informed concerning the long term (and often negative) effects a dual tax rate could consequently have on our local economy and home real estate values. The perception of immediate tax relief to homeowners often overshadows the true downwardly spiraling “ripple effect” such a move typically has on the local economy over time.

The United Chamber of Commerce ask that you help us in our efforts to educate residents and businesses alike concerning the impact of a dual tax rate by reading the attached, which is a partial listing of the some of the many reasons why a dual tax rate would be a very bad idea in Franklin.

  1. A dual tax rate raises no additional money for essential Town services. NONE WHATSOEVER. The total tax levy in any city or town in Massachusetts is set by “Proposition 2 ½” regulations and the level of new growth in a town. Again, the total amount of overall tax dollars raised does not change in any way under a dual tax rate system.

  2. When property valuations increase overall, the dollar tax rate is lowered. Noting an often increasing valuation every three years, residents can become fearful that their overall tax bills will increase dramatically and in proportion to the amount their assessed value has been raised. However, this is not the case. The tax rate is, of necessity, lowered when this happens, as a direct result of the higher valuations, due to a fixed set total tax levy end amount. Indeed, in the last fifteen years in Franklin, the real value of the average single-family home in Town has more than doubled (from $175,000 to 385,000, or about 200%). Yet the tax bill of the average single-family homeowner has only increased by about 50% (from $2,406 to $3,530).

  3. Of 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, only about 100 or so, at any given time, have a dual tax rate in effect. There are many reasons why less than 30% of towns and cities in the state opt for a dual tax rate, some of which are detailed here.

  1. There is a known statistical ratio of number of for profit businesses to number of taxable residential units that should trigger a close look at whether a dual tax rate starts to make sense or not for a certain community, which is 30% business to 70% residential. Only if a town has reached the well-documented 30% level, and has among its major business taxpayers businesses that are difficult to move - such as power plants, or vast shopping malls - only then does it make sense to consider a dual tax rate. Franklin meets neither of these criteria.

  2. The current tax system is already neither fair nor equitable for businesses, for businesses pay toward such items as the Town’s school system and trash pick-up services, which they do not use. Residents have always received a greater value, dollar for dollar, from their tax payments, and still do so even now. Going to a dual tax classification system would further increase the inequity, would be a great injustice, and additionally continue to skew the ratio of payments made to services and benefits received.

  3. Under a dual tax rate system, because there is a ratio of approximately 80 homeowners per every 20 businesses in Franklin, homeowners would only see a small decrease in their taxes, whereas businesses would see a raise of some four times that, due to the 4 to 1 ratio.

  4. Over time, a dual tax rate may well decrease the amount of money available to the municipality for essential Town services, because it is a strong disincentive to local economic development, which is the real backbone of the overall tax base.

  5. Almost all local professionals and businesses have already suffered greatly from the poor economy nation-wide.

  6. Businesses and professionals have many costs of doing business that are invisible to the consumers, such as ever-increasing insurances costs (for property, errors and emissions, and health insurance coverage); licensing fees; innumerable additional taxes and fees; etc., on all levels, town, state and federal.

  7. In fact, Massachusetts is now known as one of the worst states, and many say the worst state, to do business in within the nation.

  8. If you look around Town, you will see many underutilized buildings and vacancies in our office parks and our Downtown; vacancies that are often of a long-term nature. You do not, however, see many houses vacant for long; houses turn over relatively quickly in Franklin, despite higher home values.

  9. A split tax rate is a significant sign to new and existing businesses that a Town is not “business-friendly”. It is often one of the first, if not the first, question that new businesses ask when looking to locate in a particular town.

  10. Conversely, a split tax rate is also an incentive to build more residential homes in a Town, which further increases the demands and burdens on a Town’s resources, such as the schools; whereas business growth adds to the tax base without utilizing a lot of these already limited resources. Overcrowding of schools is only one impact, although one of the most visible, of adding more homes in a town.

  1. Franklin does not face competition solely from other in-state communities to attract and retain necessary professionals, businesses and retail operations. In fact, many states in the country “court” our existing businesses and offer special incentives for them to relocate there. Furthermore, many businesses are moving entirely to other countries, whose governments are also courting them, such as Mexico, India or many of the Asian nations, where the cost of labor and other normal costs of doing business are so much lower. It is a fallacy to think that companies cannot or will not “jump ship”. They have and will.

  2. Some 80% of U.S. businesses are considered “small” businesses. Over 85% of United Chamber of Commerce members have five employees or fewer; and many are family run. Yet, because of triple-net leasing, unless a business or professional owns their own building (and most do not) they would most likely not be exempted from paying the burden of an increased dual tax rate under a split tax system. Also, even If they do own their own building, but do not solely occupy it, or do not meet other strict requirements, they might well have to pay the higher tax rate. The often cited “exemption for small business” - sometimes mentioned by proponents of a dual tax structure as a panacea for smaller businesses - goes only to those who meet certain low numbers of employees or low business values.

  3. Going to a dual tax rate can initiate a viscous cycle. Because business taxes are based differently from residential taxes (which are based on real estate property values), when the value of a business goes down – which it often does because of a higher tax rate – the commercial/industrial property tax base itself erodes, resulting in less and less tax dollars emanating from businesses. It is important to note that due to the nature of the commercial tax structure - which is mandated by law - the real value of the very entity that the commercial taxes are determined by often then decreases, and can continue to decrease, each year under a split tax rate system. As the overall commercial tax base erodes, it is entirely possible that the entire tax base could slowly erode with it, yet the need for critical municipal services, including police, fire and school departments, is still strong. Ultimately, home values can suffer over the long term, as a town becomes known as a less desirable place to live. While a dual tax format may seem as though it is a good way to temporarily “spread the pain” or “soften the blow” of increasing residential taxes, in the long term, it generally is not.

  4. Families in Franklin utilize local stores, businesses or professionals, who could then be forced to increase their pricing of goods and services to help combat their payment of any extra taxes. Town residents, in turn, would then pay more for these items. Ironically, the cost of these goods or services often has no tax deductibility, whereas property taxes do.

  5. Many area families are employed by local businesses, and employees suffer when their employer suffers, usually through loss of income and/or benefits.

  6. The vast number of local companies contribute greatly to our local youth and civic programs currently. Yet, when they are struggling to exist, they often cannot afford to give generously; and, if they are out of business, or have moved out of town, they will not be here to give anything at all.

  1. Assessed real estate values have escalated only because the true worth of residential property values in Town have escalated sharply. Home equity is a real and viable asset to homeowners, and companies doing business in our Town should not be penalized because of this; the values of their businesses have traditionally not gone up in times of a sluggish national marketplace, but rather down.
United Chamber of Commerce / 620 Old West Central Street / Suite 202 / Franklin, MA 02038
Ph: (508) 528-2800 / Fax: (508) 520-7864 / Web:

Franklin Industry: The Boston Group

In a retail era dominated by big-box stores, area independent appliance dealers credit the Boston Group - and its seemingly endless supply - as the reason why they're able to stay in business.

The group lets them buy more merchandise for better prices then they could individually. The warehouse holds the discounted merchandise for the independent stores and the stores in turn pass the savings on to their customers.

The group, founded in 1963 by Jerry Ellis, now the president of Building 19, is a cooperative of about 75 independent appliance stores throughout New England that have joined to leverage their buying power and warehouse space. Members say their combined market share attracts manufacturers' interest in a way they could never do alone, while helping them compete against big-box stores' prices and selection.

Read more about this operation based here in Franklin that the Franklin Gazette profiles.

Top Stories of 2007

The Franklin Gazette reviews 2007 and the top stories from the local area. The Franklin contributions to the listing are:

  • The new Fire House
  • Central Commons project stalled
  • Brick classroom facing closure
  • passing the first operational override
  • named one of the Top 10 in Family Circle
  • new Senior Center opens

Read the full article here to see what Plainville, Medway, Wrentham, Millis, and Foxboro contributed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Where in Franklin? #25

Where in Franklin? #25, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Here is the next picture in the series "Where in Franklin?"

Where is this door?

Guidelines for playing "Where in Franklin?" can be found here.


Where in Franklin? Answer #24

Where in Franklin? Answer #24, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Susan provided the answer to picture #24. Apparently she did not need to use the second clue to determine that the picture showed the main entrance driveway to the Horace Mann Plaza.

Thanks for playing "Where in Franklin?"

Stay tuned for picture #25.

Franklin Train Crossing

Before the snow came, I was out running and got stopped by the train crossing at Union St. Camera handy, I caught this video segment.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Marry Christmas

1 - This Christmas enjoy the holiday trains from South Station:

2 - follow this link to a great Christmas story (be patient for the first commercial, the story is worth waiting for)

3 - and to recognize our countrymen and women serving in the military:

Merry Christmas to one and all!

PS - thanks to Joan at Songs of Experience for the link to ABC News

Monday, December 24, 2007

Attention Franklin Commuters

The MBTA/MBCR introduced the T-alert service recently. You can have an alert sent to your email so you can find out when your line is experiencing a delay for your normal commute period. This sounds good and should work. In the first couple of weeks since I enabled it, it has been fairly accurate. "Fairly" meaning the timing of some of the alerts could be better. Recall this is the same organization that manages the electronic sign boards at each station. Those are incorrect and or late most of the time, how are they going to be more accurate with another method?

It would be better if someone would set up a Twitter account so those on the line could provide updates. We, the commuters, would be able to share what we see happening. It makes sense to know that the train is running late. It doesn't always help to know why. The "why" almost doesn't matter, unless it has something to do with when it will arrive. And even then, in many cases, it takes too long to find out the why.

The Boston Globe writes today of a commuter service started in the NY/NJ area that is now expanding to Boston (amongst other areas). It is a moderated service that depends upon the commuters for updates. Moderated being the operative word here. Moderated means that spammers and nonsense messages will be filtered from the stream.

I just signed up. I can't wait to see how this will work out. The goodness of the more real time updates from fellow commuters will be a great benefit. The peer pressure of fellow commuters to silence the spammers and nonsensical messages will be helped with the moderation.

The Globe article is here.

MBTA T-Alert service can be found here.

Clever Commute can be found here.

Santa Foundation - based in Franklin

On the night before Christmas, Santa has already paid a personal visit to more than 700 families in the Milford area and MetroWest thanks to husband and wife team Bob and Elaine Sullivan who head the Santa Foundation.

In its 21st year, the charitable organization spreads holiday cheer by delivering gifts to families in need.

"We have always felt that at least on Christmas Day these families should be like every other family," said Sullivan.

Read the remainder of this good news story by Michelle Laczkoski's in today's Milford Daily News.

RSS in Plain English - Common Craft

I encourage you to view the brief video explaining "RSS in Plain English" by the wonderful folks at Common Craft. Click on the link here.

The video was created in April 2007 and is still very much accurate. I had used Bloglines as my reader of choice. I had started playing with the Google reader but never really got it set up. As I have little time to play, I haven't messed too much with this. Bloglines works very nicely. I did play with Google Reader and it gradually took over as it added more features so that I could send an item to a blog, to someone else via email, or to Twitter.

You can subscribe to this site via RSS. The orange button is on the right column below my Town Common Gazebo photo.

You can also subscribe to this site to receive updates via email. There are options to set to receive an email each time something is posted or to receive an email once a day. You can choose the frequency for what works for you.


Updated 10/20/10

Snow Bound Walkway -

Dolores and I took our usual Sunday walk around town. Our route took us up to the Dunkin Donuts in the plaza off King St/Upper Union. We usually use the sidewalk entrance to cross the drive-thru line and enter Dunkin. This was not to be today. The walkway which also serves as a handicap access is still snow bound.

We walked into the driveway that serves Joe's American Grill as well as access to the Dunkin Donuts. There we found a beaten path, tricky to walk but a short cut to Dunkin.

Updated: The location is formally called "Silver Maple Commons".

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Catching up on Override Central

When the Boston Globe incorporated their new web site a few weeks ago, apparently they also changed some of the RSS feeds. I had time to go checking on these today and found several of them had indeed changed.

What is an RSS Feed?
Stay tuned, I have a Common Craft presentation that explains RSS feeds and how they can be used. I'll post it this week.

In the meantime, here are some article previously published on the Globe's Override Central site that were not referenced here. Click on the article headline to read the full story.


Newton School Committe bets more than $100,000 on a successful override

NEWTON The School Committee is moving forward with plans to build $1.4 million in modular classrooms to address overcrowding at four elementary schools, even though the district can't afford to staff them unless the mayor's proposed tax override passes next...


Property tax frustration fuels revolt around US

The Wall Street Journal reports that the combination of falling home values and rising property taxes is fueling frustration around the US. An excerpt from Falling home values and rising property taxes in many parts of the country are...


Saugus to borrow $10-million to cover its bills

For the second time since June, Saugus will have to borrow money to pay its bills, including payroll and utilities, until winter property tax revenues are collected. Officials expect to have to borrow $10 million in January to cover expenses....


How Randolph's schools began to fail

Randolph voters have rejected four overrides over the last few years, but political leaders also see other strains on the town. The social compact is broken, one official says in a story in Globe South. Randolph school leaders say they...


Natick, Newton consider overrides

In Natick, an operational override question on the spring ballot is looking ever more likely as department heads in Natick ponder how to meet a projected $6.5 million budget shortfall. As it stands, the school system could face some of...


Property taxes rising on North Shore

Property taxes are going up all over, including the cities and towns north of Boston that were surveyed by Globe North this week for this story. "Almost universally across the state, communities have a lack of money to pay for...


Franklin Industry in the News - PLC Medical

FRANKLIN, MA, December 21, 2007 --- PLC Systems Inc. (AMEX:PLC) announced today that it has received the CE Mark Certificate for its RenalGuard System™, clearing the way for the Company to begin its initial launch of the product in the European Union. The Company expects to initiate a limited launch of RenalGuard™ in the first quarter of 2008 in Italy, targeting early adoptors who recognize the benefits of utilizing the unique fluid balancing capabilities of the RenalGuard System in a cath lab setting during cardiovascular imaging procedures for patients at higher risk of Contrast-Induced Nephropathy (CIN).

Read the remainder of this press release here.

About PLC Medical
PLC Systems Inc. is a medical technology company specializing in innovative technologies for the cardiac and vascular markets. Headquartered in Franklin, Mass., PLC pioneered the CO2 Heart Laser System, which cardiac surgeons use to perform CO2 transmyocardial revascularization (TMR) to alleviate symptoms of severe angina. CO2 TMR offers a treatment option for angina patients who suffer from severe coronary artery disease. The CO2 Heart Laser is the world's first TMR angina relief device cleared for commercial distribution by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and to obtain a CE Mark for European distribution.

PLC Medical is located at 10 Forge Park.

The PLC Medical web site can be found here.