Thursday, December 10, 2009

Town Council Goal Setting - 12/09/09

The Town Council met on Wednesday evening for a "Goal setting session". Councilors Whalen and Zollo arrived late as the meeting started earlier than normal at 6:00 PM. Councilor Vallee left about 7:00 PM. The remaining Councilors went into Executive Session approx. 7:45 PM not to return to open meeting.

I chose not to live blog the meeting as I wasn't sure how long it would be. I took my notes the old fashioned way.

Briefly, it wasn't as much a goal setting session as it was a getting up to speed session for the new council. A review of standard policies and procedures was covered to set the stage for an effective operation as the Council would handle business going forward.

The key take-aways for me were:

The Council will bring forward and approve the existing fiscal policies that had guided the prior councils. These determine the operating guidelines for how much the stabilization fund should be, how much long term debt we should service from the operating budget, etc. A copy of the policy document will be provided later.

Councilors Whalen and Zollo will bring forward the prior subcommittee work on the the Charter revisions for presentation and discussion with the full Council.

The Planning and Community Development Dept will be bringing forward a number of by-law change proposals. The proposal on signs will likely be of interest to many. The Franklin Downtown Planning group received a preview of it and had a good discussion on the proposal.

The plans for the downtown renovation will be coming to the Council in the next 90-120 days. A decision on whether to put the utilities underground will need to be incorporated into the overall project plan. The Council decision will be (1) to put them underground (2) how to fund the work associated with the utilities (existing grants can not be used so it would either be debt or cash).

Much of the discussion was on the overall financial picture for the town. Currently, the Town has a revenue problem (insufficient tax base and over-reliance on State revenue) but even in good times the Town has an expense problem with health and pension benefits in particular rising at a 10-15% rate and the tax levy limited to 2.5%. The draft capital plan was reviewed including how the town will have room in their debt structure beginning 2011 to take on projects up to a total of $6 million (and finance them via debt).

Ashley Studley from The Milford Daily News reported on the meeting:

Franklin eyes expensive projects

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

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