Saturday, June 21, 2008

Town Council Mtg Summary 6/18/08

Franklin Matters: Fiscal Year 2007 Audit Report

"it's a discussion worth having"

"We just can't lay off 45 teachers"

Audit report due at Town Council

FRANKLIN TOWN COUNCIL - agenda - 6/18/08

Franklin Matters: Fiscal Year 2007 Audit Report

One is a series of podcast on Franklin (MA) Matters. This episode presents the Fiscal Year 2007 Audit Report from the Franklin Town Council meeting of June 18, 2008.

Time: 45 minutes, 4 seconds

MP3 File

Session notes:

This is Steve Sherlock with another in a series of podcasts for Franklin Matters.

The Town Council meeting of June 18, 2008 featured a presentation on the audit results for fiscal year 2007. It is interesting for a couple of points.

Here it is June 2008 and we are getting the results of the fiscal year that ended fully one year ago.

Why the delay? Partially priority. Partially schedule conflict.

The report for Fiscal 2006 was presented in June 2007 so there is a history of taking time to prepare the audit and review the results.

One key item driving this is people. The Town of Franklin, contrary to what some folks believe is not over staffed or over manned. There are only a few people involved and they can only do so much. As a result, the schedule conflict created by the school audit which was discovered approx in Sep 2007 and took place during Sep – Dec 2007 prevented the normal fiscal year audit from taking place.

I have chosen to present the full segment from the Town meeting here. It is important and will help place the financial foundation for everything else that goes on. Frank Falvey comments towards the end of this segment to reinforce two points; first, the recommendation made by the auditors to put in place an internal audit process and second for the Town Council/Town Administration to process these audits in a more timely fashion.

The full audit report is available in a PDF format on the town website. You can follow along fairly well with the auditors comments to the pages he is talking to. Be aware there there is a preliminary section with pages 1-3, then the full audit report section also beginning with page one. As I understood it, the references were all to the pages in that second section.

The segment lasts about 40 minutes. Enjoy!

--- after the Town Council segment ---

This has been another podcast in series on Franklin (MA) Matters. You can visit the web site at Franklin Matters blogspot dot com. If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve dot gmail dot com

The musical intro and closing is from the Podsafe Music Network
Jon Schmidt - Powerful Exhilarating Piano Music

"it just takes a little planning"

Residents get a free ride

By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff

Fri Jun 20, 2008, 05:50 PM EDT


For the past few months, Franklin resident Janaina Santos has been "out-and-about" - shopping, taking trips to the library or to Boston - more than she has in a while, thanks to the new public bus, she said.

The Franklin Area Bus, operated by the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority and funded part by a grant program, has only been in town three months, but Santos is already a regular, she said.

"I think it's awesome. It's good - I'm satisfied with it," said Santos, smiling and taking a seat on the bus beside her daughter after picking up a few groceries at the Stop & Shop on Rte. 140.

Instead of walking or getting a ride with a friend, Santos rides the bus nearly every day now to go to work at the Franklin Senior Center, when she needs to run errands, shop, or get to the train station to head to the city, she said. Her children take the bus to the library, Santos said.

"It's very good. I think it's going to be helpful in the wintertime, for everybody. They should continue to have it," Santos said.

Santos is one of about 25 Franklin residents who now regularly benefits from the town's lengthy battle to bring the public bus to town, and who took advantage of GATRA's one-day, nationwide campaign, "Dump the Pump," and got a free ride yesterday.

Read the full story in the Franklin Gazette here

Have you ridden the bus yet? The schedule is available on the Town website.

"You are all truly blessed"

Posted Jun 20, 2008 @ 11:34 PM


The town's oldest residents were honored yesterday at the seventh annual Nonagenarian Tea, held at the Franklin Senior Center.

Seniors age 90 and up gathered in the morning, surrounded by their families, to celebrate their gifted lives.

Thirty seniors were given a rose and a citation, with Franklin Town Council member Bob Vallee present to hand out the citations.

"Congratulations to all of you," Vallee said. "You are all truly blessed."

Senior Center Director Karen Alves served as master of ceremonies and gave special recognition to the two centenarians present at the tea.

Helen Beghosian, 104, who still cooks and goes for walks, and Lilian Pisani, 100, were given bouquets to recognize their vitality.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

"it's a discussion worth having"

Posted Jun 20, 2008 @ 11:28 PM


The school district could save up to 20 teacher jobs, officials say, if Town Council agrees to Councilor Robert Vallee's request to give schools $1 million from the stabilization account in July.

Taking action to prevent 47 teacher layoffs is "critical," Vallee said at the council's June 18 meeting, then making a motion to put the subject on Town Council's July 9 agenda for discussion. Only five councilors were present for the meeting, and the item barely made it on the agenda.

In anticipation of possible pressure from various town departments for further funding for operational costs from the stabilization account, the Finance Committee at its June 17 meeting unanimously voted to send a strong message to Town Council that such action is "inappropriate," except for unemployment costs, said Finance Committee Chairman Jim Roche.

The cost of laying off 45 people is about $675,000 in unemployment costs, according to Superintendent Wayne Ogden.

Bonding companies downgrade towns that continually use stabilization funds, Roche said, noting that Franklin has been taking money from that account for operational expenses for the last four years.

"We can't afford our interest rate to go up because we're foolishly spending our stabilization funds," Roche said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"We just can't lay off 45 teachers"

Posted Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:04 PM


At Councilor Robert Vallee's insistence, Town Council last night voted to discuss at their next meeting, on July 9, giving schools $1 million to avoid some of the massive teacher layoffs.

"I'm very concerned about 47 layoffs at the schools," Vallee said, suggesting the council consider taking $1 million out of the town's stabilization account to fund teachers' jobs.

Earlier in the budget season, Town Council agreed not to tap into stabilization this year for operational costs such as teacher or staff salaries in order to keep sufficient funds in that account.

Vallee made the same proposal in budget discussions prior to the failed $2.8 million Proposition 2 1/2 tax override ballot question on June 10.

"I think it's critical. It's irresponsible for us to do nothing about this. We just can't lay off 45 teachers without the town taking action," Vallee said.

Councilor Joseph McGann seconded Vallee's motion, and after a few moments of looking around at one another and some raised eyebrows, Chairman Christopher Feeley said he would vote to put it on the July 9 agenda.

"I'm always in favor of a good debate," Feeley said, but noted he will not support the move.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"I know what I want to do now"

Posted Jun 17, 2008 @ 10:12 PM

Three months ago, 19-year-old Kristin Graci's life was "pretty crazy, always busy" as a typical college student in the middle of her second semester at Arizona State University.
The former Franklin High School varsity softball starting pitcher was still figuring things out - like what path she wanted to pursue in life. She was enjoying college, spending time with her boyfriend and was looking forward to summertime.
In April, she contracted the flu, which Graci and her loved ones soon discovered was merely a harbinger of a much more foreboding illness.
When two viruses immediately followed, doctors thought Graci might have mononucleosis, but suspected worse, she said.
Graci moved out of her dorm, flew back home on a Sunday, and started undergoing tests at Dana Farber on Monday, she said.
In two days, doctors told her she had leukemia. She spent the next five weeks in the hospital.
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Kristin's obituary can be found here:

"We're pretty excited about that"

Posted Jun 18, 2008 @ 12:06 AM


With a $15,000 donation from the Lions Club, the Franklin Fourth of July Coalition no longer has to worry about how to pay for the fireworks at this year's five-day celebration.

The gift fully funds the fireworks, said Lions Club President Mark Sawyer.

"Everything's really come together in the last month-and-a-half, two months. Everything's pretty much all set," said coalition co-Chairman Michael Kelly.

"We've all worked together ... (former event co-Chairman) Charlie Oteri and (Town Clerk) Debbie Pellegri have helped us tremendously in the transition. I'm excited about ... the whole thing," Kelly said.

The first day of festivities, on Wednesday, July 2, will include rides and a disc jockey from 5 to 10 p.m. on the town common, said Warren Revell, coalition secretary.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Franklin Center Commons: roof's on

I did not get around to posting this picture from our walk Saturday morning but the roof is now on the condominium building located down behind the store fronts along Main St.

King Street - sidewalk detour reasons gone

When King Street was re-done, the sidewalk took a turn to go around two stately trees.

Alas, the trees are no longer.

The sidewalk however, still makes the curve around what used to be.

Audit report due at Town Council

The Town Council agenda package for Wednesday's meeting is now available for download here (PDF).

Pages 5 through 54 cover the audit report for the fiscal year ending 6/30/07.

Yes, it took a while to prepare the report. This was Frank Falvey's point during his recent citizens comment.

Read the report, go to the meeting prepared with one or two questions.

Ask them. Yes, you can do it.

Do it for me. Unfortunately, I won't be there.

If you need a question or two, let me know (via comment or email).

Continuing our series on understanding Web 2.0 tools, the good folks at Common Craft have a new video this time produced specifically for

What's Meetup? from Meetup HQ on Vimeo.

FYI - there are 6 groups within 5 miles of Franklin and 29 groups within 10 miles. Quite a variety with room for more.


Monday, June 16, 2008

"there's a virtual certainty that's going to happen"

Posted Jun 15, 2008 @ 11:25 PM


A newly appointed long-range financial planning committee hopes to sit down with Arlington officials for guidance on long-term financial planning, since both towns have faced similar fiscal challenges.

Town Council agreed to create the committee last month, giving it a broad mission to produce a three- to five-year financial plan for the town, and voted to allow council Chairman Christopher Feeley to appoint its members.

Town Council unanimously agreed to Feeley's appointments to the nine-member committee on June 4: residents Douglas Hardesty and Gwynne Wilschek; Finance Committee Chairman Jim Roche and member Rebecca Cameron; School Committee members Roberta Trahan and Matt Kelly; Council Vice Chairwoman Deborah Bartlett and Councilors Shannon Zollo and Stephen Whalen.

The new committee picked officers at its first meeting Wednesday night.

"One thing good about (the meeting) is, we got right to work. We elected Jim Roche chairman, and Doug Hardesty vice chairman," said Whalen, noting Hardesty is an auditor with Deloitte & Touche, one of the biggest auditing firms in the country.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

FRANKLIN TOWN COUNCIL - agenda - 6/18/08

Agenda - June 18, 2008 - 7:00 PM


E. APPOINTMENTS – Annual Committee Appointments

Annual Audit Report
NuStyle – Grove Street
Amendments to Town Code Chp 125-Peace & Good Order



1. Resolution 08-46: FY 2008 Capital Budget

2. Resolution 08-47: Authorization to Borrow – Library Repairs

3. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-617: Amendment to Chp. 185, Town Code: Water Resource District – 2nd Reading

4. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-618: Amendment to Chp. 185, Town Code: Biotechnology Uses – 2nd Reading

5. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-619: Amendment to Chp. 185-5: Zoning Map - Biotechnology Use – 2nd Reading

6. Bylaw Amendment 08-624- Amendment to Sewer System Map – 273 Country Way – 2nd Reading




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


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Franklin Matters: Intro and Override Reasons

This is the first podcast in a series for Franklin (MA) Matters. In this segment, I review the reasons for the recent override failure, propose some lessons to be learned and possible actions to be taken to prepare Franklin for the future.

This is a public service provided to my fellow Franklin (MA) citizens and voters.

Time: 10 minutes, 43 seconds

MP3 File

Podcast Notes:


Based upon the traffic analysis, how many readers, how many listeners, I am going to try something different, this podcast will likely to be a weekly format, or at least as frequently as necessary to cover what matters

I will make this available via iTunes, I’ll continue to record as many meetings as I can attend but rather than posting the full meeting, I’ll use segments in this podcast.

The goal of this podcast is to provide a review of what has happened and an outlook as to what is coming up for the week or near future


Why did the override fail?

By the numbers, 1600 yes votes from last year did not vote yes this year:
500 of them chose to vote no. Just over 1000 stayed home and chose not to vote at all.

What happened to these yes votes?
I think there are a number of reasons.

Apathy is always a factor - "My vote won't make a difference." On a national scale, the individual vote does not count for a whole lot. On the local scale, one vote is ONE vote.

Town priorities - The school budget is always a town matter. The School Department and Superintendent are properly advocates for what they need. The Finance Committee provides some oversight and validation but the ultimate responsibility lies with the Town Council. So while this year (and last) the School Committee brought forth what they needed to maintain the level of education that they were providing, the Town Council chose to follow the beat of their own drummer. Last year the Town planned for the override in advance and included town operations in the override amount. This year, the Town set the schools up on their own and only allowed an override when forced by the School Committee and the presence of growing support within the community. Alas, the support was not enough to carry all the way through.

Mis-information - The hearsay, mis-information and inaccuracies were prevalent in the community discussions. Trying to get the proper information out to the folks was like swimming against the riptide. The Milford Daily News closed out anonymous comments the day after the vote but the damage was done. The constant naysayers were abusive and out in force. Heaven forbid, you try to get a word in edgewise. The key point on this is the difference between a capital expense and an operational expense. Clearly, the majority of Franklin voters don't understand or appreciate the difference.

I believe the Franklin voters who did not cast their ballots will come to regret their decision. The days of Franklin being selected in Top 10 or Top 100 are over. Digging out of this hole will be the hardest thing to do.

The task of the Five Year Plan Committee will be immense. We, the voters, will have a chance of getting a decent plan. There are two "normal, everyday citizens" on the committee along with the elected and appointed officials. We will have to monitor the committee to ensure that they are open and doing something productive. We can not let the Town Council let this opportunity sit idle again.

Additional reasons can be found here


What can we learn from the failure?

Personally, letting others direct the conversation, reporting the facts, hoping for the best doesn't work.

Action will be required. The level of my own engagement in the town meetings (especially the Town Council) needs to increase.

You, yes you!

Don't sit at home and let the talking heads babble on. Make the effort. Go to the Council Chambers. Show them that there are real live people for whom they should care about what they do. Hold them accountable.

Conversation about what is happening needs to maintain some focus on the real issues. Don't let the agenda hide some items. Ask where is it? Ask what is happening? Ask why?

Together we can come out of the hole. Or separately, we can see our home values decline, or students fall behind, our future dim.

This is our choice.

What choice will you make?

How much does Franklin matter to you?

For additional textual information, please visit Franklin Matters

This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow Franklin citizens and voters by Steve Sherlock

You can send me an email at shersteve at gmail dot com


The musical intro and closing is from the Podsafe Music Network
Jon Schmidt - Powerful Exhilarating Piano Music

"Through work one can recover and become well"

Milford Daily News
Posted Jun 14, 2008 @ 10:18 PM


Steve Goldman had plans for his future. An Academic All-American gymnast at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Goldman had hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher.

Life had other plans. Under stress, Goldman suffered a nervous breakdown, and later was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

"Right now my diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder with bipolar features,'' Goldman said. "I have serious depression and serious mania problems, and auditory and visual hallucinations.''

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness where patients experience abnormally elevated moods, and also extreme depressive moods. These episodes are typically separated by periods of normality.

With teaching not an option, Goldman worked several part-time jobs in between treatment. Depressed that he could not teach and scared of what the future held, Goldman needed a change in his life.

He had been receiving help at the Quincy Mental Health Center following his diagnosis in 1998. After the death of his father, Goldman moved to Franklin.
Goldman was referred to the Crossroads Clubhouse in Hopedale, a center designed to utilize peer support and a strong rehabilitative environment for those with mental illness.

Soon after checking in, Goldman met Val Comerford, the program director of the clubhouse. Comerford also suffers from a mental illness, so Goldman saw her as a source of hope that he could recover and have a meaningful career.

"I didn't have a role model for so long, and when I met Val I couldn't believe she got so far,'' Goldman said. "I'm going to go as far as I can now because of what I saw in her.''

Read the remainder of this inspirational article in the Milford Daily News here

"Fiscal 2010 is predicted to be even more challenging"

Posted Jun 14, 2008 @ 11:47 PM

Is a teetering economy the place to hold the line on property taxes and leave room for rising gas and grocery bills, or to chip in a little more to hang onto teachers and strained municipal services?

Local voters seem split down the middle on the answer.

Out of 15 Proposition 2 1/2 override requests put before MetroWest and Milford-area residents this year, eight have failed and seven have passed.

However, three of those successes were debt exclusion overrides, which only raise taxes temporarily to pay for a specific project. Operational overrides, which made up all the other requests, permanently increase the amount of taxes a town or city can collect.

Statewide, the rate of override approvals is roughly similar, said John Robertson, deputy legislative director for the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

"About half of the communities that go out win at least one of their (ballot) questions," and that trend has remained roughly steady since fiscal 2006, he said last week.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here