Friday, February 20, 2009

"we're looking to impact their behavior"

More than a dozen young adults who were at the October underage drinking party where 17-year-old Taylor Meyer of Plainville was last seen alive must take part in a drug- and alcohol-awareness program, in addition to fulfilling other requirements, a Wrentham District Court judge ordered Thursday.

Fourteen people ranging in age from 17 to 20 appeared before Judge Warren Powers for a probable cause hearing, each facing a charge of underage possession of alcohol, said David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William Keating.

All were charged following the Oct. 17 post-Homecoming party at the former Norfolk Airport. Meyer, who wandered away from the group, became lost, and drowned in an adjacent wetland. Her blood alcohol level was .13, according to autopsy findings.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

"You'd have to change the marketplace"


In continuing discussions about presenting a three-year fiscal plan for the town, the Financial Planning Committee last night generally agreed that without some kind of structural change the town's expenses will outpace its revenue indefinitely.

Most towns in the state are contending with the same problem, even affluent communities such as Newton, said Town Councilor Shannon Zollo, who is also a planning committee member.

"Our budget goes up a lot more than 2.5 percent every year, it's more in the 4 or 5 percent range," said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Financial Planning Committee minutes 2/5/09

FEBRUARY 5, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm.

Members present were: Deborah Bartlett, James Roche, Matt Kelly, Roberta Trahan, Rebecca Cameron, Doug Hardesty and Gwynne Wilschek. Also present were Jeffrey Nutting and Wayne Odgen. Absent were Steve Whalen and Shannon Zollo.

The Committee reviewed reports to date. Matt Kelly handed out a sample of FAQ's for review. Deborah Bartlett and Roberta Trahan submitted their information to Doug Hardesty. Jim Roche handed out a draft of his work; Jeff Nutting continues to work with Rebecca on the assumptions. Members should submit changes, improvements etc. to Doug Hardesty in the next 10 days so it will be ready for the next meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffrey Nutting

Financial Planning Committee minutes 1/15/09

January 15, 2009

A meeting of the Financial Planning Committee was held on January 15, 2009 at the Franklin Municipal Building. Members present were Deborah Bartlett, Shannon Zollo, Roberta Trahan, Jim Roche, Rebecca Cameron and Doug Hardesty, Matt Kelly & Gwynne Wilschek. Also present was Jeffrey Nutting, Town Administrator and Wayne Odgen, School Superintendent. Absent was Steve Whalen.

The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m.

The Chairman Jim Roche asked that each subcommittee report on the progress of their assignment. The members reviewed their work to date and the Committee discussed the work and suggested a format for a final product by each subgroup.

Doug Hardesty requested that all work at the individual level be completed in two weeks and forwarded to him so he could collate the information.

The next meeting is scheduled for February 5, 2009

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffrey D. Nutting

Financial Planning Committee minutes 12/18/08

DECEMBER 18, 2008

A meeting of the Financial Planning Committee was held on December 18, 2008 at the Franklin Municipal Building. Members present were Deborah Bartlett, Shannon Zollo, Roberta Trahan, Rebecca Cameron, Doug Hardesty and Gwynne Wilschek. Also present were Jeffrey Nutting and Wayne Odgen. Absent were Steve Whalen, Matt Kelly and Jim Roche.

The Town Administrator handed out information on the comparison of the FY01 to FY09 budgets, a list of all things all departments have done over the last many years to reduce staff, cut costs, improve efficiencies, receive grants, etc., as well as a list of legislative priority items the Massachusetts Municipal Association and others are hoping the Legislature will consider in order to control costs.

Doug Hardesty asked what the Committee thought should be included in the report. Deb Bartlett suggested an executive summary, budget information, fiscal policies, history of capital, school mandates, costs beyond the control of the Town, services we must perform and how citizens might help. Other suggestions were bulletin points, graphs and charts, but keeping the summary to a few pages, as well as information on population, students, staffing etc. Doug offered to try a "straw man" draft of the format and then committee members would need to do some work to fill in the information.

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffrey Nutting

The Green Reel: "The Next Industrial Revolution"

The Green Reel: a series of films for sustainable living will be shown on Sunday evenings this winter.

What: The Next Industrial Revolution"

When: 7:00 PM on February 22, 2009

Where: Agudas Achim, 901 North Main St, Attleboro or directions here

Free and open to the public.
For more info: 508-695-2389

read more about the file "The Next Industrial Revolution" here

Agudas Achim
Crystal Spring Center
Simply Keep It Local
Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary
Citizens for a Sustainable Local Economy
Murray Unitarian Universalist Church
Green Committee of First Universalist Society of Franklin
New Dawn Earth Center
Oake Knoll Ayrshires
Franklin Area Climate Team
White Barn Farm
St Mark's Episcopal Church-Foxboro

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Financial Plng Comm 02/19/09

The live reporting from the Financial Planning committee meeting of 2/19/09 can be found here

Live reporting - Financial Planning Committee (continued)

Executive summary, page 2.

In 1995, the town paid 71% of the school budget, we are now down to 50%.

The idea behind the plan is a call to action. These trends will continue unless action is taken.

If we eliminate services, we can address costs.

If we are too general here, they might miss the point. I think we do need to get an example in their.

March 5th for the trial preview is not likely. We have spent time just on the 3 page executive summary.

You don't have to rush to March 5th. What we have before us will not likely change. The train has already left the station.

Getting this done by April 1st should be our goal.

Need to provide the option. The citizens are either going to vote for or against but there is a choice that the citizens need to make.

Jeff is ready to send the soft copy of all the data accumulated to date.

We will be meeting March 5th. No preview for focus group.
March 19th is the FEF Trivia Bee.
Considering the 12th or 26th? Meet on the 12th.

April 2nd? can that be the focus group? yes

Keep the 26th for a meeting.

April 15th joint meeting of Town Council, School Committee, Finance Committee

TBD - Horace Mann for town wide discussion. 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
(updated 2/24/09 - the date had been tentatively planned for 4/29/09 but that day has a prior commitment)

We are gaining momentum as the material comes together.

Live reporting - Financial Planning Committee 2/19/09

Attending: Roche, Bartlett, Cameron, Hardesty, Nutting, Trahan, Whalen, Zollo, Wilschek (late)
Absent: Kelly, Ogden

Accepted minutes of Dec 18, Jan 15, Feb 5.

Discussion on the executive summary draft
Need to be consistent with numbers used. The State DOE calculates slightly differently. They include the enterprise accounts.
Include a glossary of terms in the appendix so everyone can have and use the same terms in the same way.

Doesn't want to use any term in the executive summary that would be required to be defined in the glossary.

Discussion on raising issues

Newton did their study; Harvard professors spent six months reviewing the finances and determined that the current process was not sustainable.

There are 2 or 3 budget busters that should not be a surprise; wages, health costs, SPED costs (including transportation).

Need to be accurate and unbiased on the data presentation.

We can get to the other infrastructure items over time. We will have capacity to borrow some 3 million. We won't be able to do the high school without a debt exclusion for sure, but overtime we can get to the other infrastructure items. Recall, this year's total capital budget was 8 million in requests of which we are proceeding with 1.3 million.

At some point, specifically with the roads, we are to a point where we need to do something in addition to the way we are tackling the roads today.

"I have my concerns about the cost to implement this in our current economy,"

Under the draft regulations, the DEP is proposing a $200 fee for the initial certificate and a $200 annual certification fee. Those seeking a variance could have to pay $3,000, Civian said.

During a mid-morning break, several local developers and business owners shared their worries about the proposal.

Sherry Clancy, project manager for National Development, threw out several questions yesterday.

"I think it's something we have to get educated about and understand," Clancy said. "If there is something troublesome or cumbersome, that comment should be made now before it's too late."


Another information session is scheduled for Wednesday at the DEP's Central Regional Office at 627 Main St., Worcester, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The DEP has extended the comment period on its proposed Statewide Stormwater Management Program until March 11. All comments should be submitted in writing to Mass DEP, 1 Winter St., 5th floor, Boston, MA 02108, attention: Glenn Haas or by e-mail to

The proposed regulations and program details are available at the DEP Web site at

Read the full article about stricter storm water management in the Milford Daily News here

Congratulations to FHS Cheerleaders

Franklin High School's Varsity Cheerleaders: They are the second FHS cheerleading team to take home first place at a national competition; the first title was won in Providence in 2006.
Read the full article on the team in the Milford Daily News here

"those items have been cut"

Franklin School Committee Chairman Jeffrey N. Roy told Tri-County School Committee members, "One reason I came here tonight is to ask you to do what you appear to be doing - level-fund your budget."

"I want to thank you for doing that because in the Franklin school district we know a lot about cutting," Roy said. Franklin schools cut more than 40 teachers and staff last year to make up for about a $2 million budget gap.

Read the full article on the Tri-County Vocational Technical school budget in the Milford Daily News here

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

celebrate an ordinary hero

Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, does a wonderful talk at TED. Please spend the 20 minutes to review this. I agree that practical wisdom is what we need more than ever.

He is not the only one to have said:

Our example to our children, to our families, and to the world around us is constant. The question is not whether or not anyone is watching, the question is what are they learning as they watch. Kirk Weisler

You can also view this with an intro by Jeff Roy on the School Committee blog page here

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Our intent is to have it look the same, but spruce it up"

Posted Feb 15, 2009 @ 08:42 PM
Last update Feb 15, 2009 @ 09:20 PM


When the town's gazebo was built 91 years ago, it was designed with a roof that doesn't fully cover the base - "a huge mistake," said facilities Director Michael D'Angelo.

"It should never have been built that way," he said.

Snow, ice and water have damaged the gazebo, and the sheeting beneath the clay, Spanish tile roof is rotting because tiles have broken, D'Angelo said.

Neither he nor other town officials understand why the structure was designed in such a way, leading it to substantially deteriorate, D'Angelo said, but they plan to fix the structure this spring.

"We can't let the gazebo close up because the roof is starting to fail," said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

"We need to fix it before we totally lose it," Nutting said.

read the full article about this effective use of capital and a grant to repair the gazebo in the Milford Daily News here

"it's hard to argue with the positive environmental impact"


The days of 6-inch, 500-page School Committee packets are gone, replaced by the much greener option of e-documents and laptops.

Aiming to save the environment, cash, and set an example for the rest of the district, the School Committee has decided to "go green."

At the suggestion of Annie Sullivan Middle School Principal Beth Wittcoff, a member of the paperless Southborough School Committee, the Franklin School Committee did a pilot run at its first meeting, and gave it rave reviews, said Chairman Jeffrey Roy.

Members discovered a minor glitch - that their laptop batteries died once the meeting hit the 2-hour mark. The town has since put electrical outlets at the meeting table, Roy said.

"Everybody loved it, so we jumped on it from there," said Roy.

Read the full article about the paperless efforts in the Milford Daily News here

Sunday, February 15, 2009

FM #30 - This week in Franklin, MA

This is podcast #30 in the series on what matters in Franklin, MA. I review the Walgreens decision, the Gallery 218 opening, the School Committee meeting and the Town Council meeting all from this week. You give me about ten minutes, I'll tell you what you should be aware of.

Time: 11 minutes, 29 seconds

MP3 File

Session Notes:

Music intro
My intro
FM #30

This internet radio show or podcast for Franklin Matters is number 30 in the series. In this session, I’ll focus on what you should know about what happened this week in Franklin, MA.

1 - The Planning Board approved Walgreens development of the Four Corners property. Traffic at the corner of 140, King and Chestnut was a concern. They are coordinating with the town to create a right turn only lane for those coming up King so that they can turn right onto 140. The second lane will allow traffic to proceed directly through to Chestnut or to turn left on 140 and head into Town. This may still be an issue but isn't expected to be a big one. Time will tell.

The surprise for me was in the new opening date for Walgreens. During the prior Planning Board session, the discussion was concerned with the traffic improvements. Would the Town get the plans in time (April) to get them completed for an opening in Sep/Oct. Now the opening is not until April 2010.

You can view both Planning Board sessions via the video archive now available on the Town web site. The links will be included in the text version of this podcast.

Planning Board - 1/26/09 meeting reviewing the Walgreens plan

Planning Board - 2/9/09 meeting with final approval for Walgreens

2 - The Alumni Show opened at Galley 218 on Tuesday. A Slide show of pictures I took of the opening is available. The link will be included in the notes.

Disclosure: yes, Allison Sherlock is related to me. She happens to be the #1 daughter, a 2004 graduate of FHS and a 2008 graduate of Assumption College. Her sister, Carolyn, a 2006 FHS grad is pursuing her studies at Northeastern Univ and currently working a co-op this semester.

3 – The School Committee meeting was a full one Tuesday night. I have already provided the live reporting updates on Franklin Matters so I'll just point you to the three key presentations
The presentation documents for each of these are available.

4 – The School Committee started discussion on what the priorities should be as they get into the detail planning for the fiscal year 2010 budget. A "level service" budget, that is providing the same level of service next year as this, accounts for the cost increases in salary, benefits, transportation, etc would require an increase of 3.5 million dollars. The town has already told the school to come in with a "level funded" budget. That is using the same amount of money this coming year as is being used this year. Considering last year, the budget cut required 40 plus positions to go out the door, the 3.5 million shortfall this year may require another 60 or so positions to go out the door. How that would be done will be the major discussion over the next couple of months.

5 – The Town Council meeting on Wednesday was short, lasting less than an hour. They had spent an hour prior to the formal meeting in a goal setting session that unfortunately I was unable to participate in so I have no idea what they did. I do plan on finding out. I would encourage you to do likewise.

The meeting as short as it was, did have some points of interest. The capital budget will come before the Council for a formal vote sometime in March. Jeff is looking to get a better understanding of what the snow budget will really be in case any further adjustments need to be made.

The councilor comments section was also notable for the cautionary words and appeals to sacrifice as the work on the fiscal 2010 budget approaches. I encourage you to tap into the town web site and view the video archives. You can go straight to the councilor comments section to hear what they had to say.

Finally, I want to broach the O word. In all the discussions and news articles about the coming 2010 budget shortfall, one option we should keep in mind is for an operational override. Now, above all the other times it has been proposed would be a good time to actually pass one. We have dug ourselves into a hole depending up state revenues to cover our daily requirements. The state is not going to be increasing aid anytime soon. Franklin needs to step up and start paying their own way.

Yes, it will be a sacrifice but the one real benefit we will get is that for every tax dollar we put up for Franklin, it stays in Franklin.

I leave it here for now but will come back to this override topic as the budget season progresses.

To recap this week in Franklin:
  • Walgreens is coming in 2010
  • Gallery 218 features art works of FHS alumni
  • The school committee meeting has multiple presentations worthy of viewing
  • The capital budget will be coming up for vote in March
  • 2010 will be a tough budget
  • there should be an override option to offset job and service cuts
The week ahead will be a quiet one as school vacation is upon us and there are no major meetings scheduled for the town council or school committee. There is a Financial Planning Committee meeting on Thursday the 19th.

Have a great week in Franklin!

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This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow citizens of Franklin, MA

For additional information, please visit

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

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

"bargains won’t be difficult to find"

Kathy Stankard writes:
The taxpayers (myself included) will mention that the tax rate did go up slightly while the asessed value went down however we still get alot for our money like newer schools, newer police and fire station, an amazing senior center that for once makes me want to age. We also have an active community and a great small town feel even though the population is nearing 35,000.

Read her full posting on Foreclosure Rates here

"We're hoping that some of these projects get funded"


Already facing a budget deficit, Franklin, like communities around the state, is looking to federal stimulus dollars to help fund municipal projects.

Franklin submitted several "shovel ready" projects - including water main repairs and road reconstruction - to the state in hopes of getting some of the money that could come to Massachusetts through the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

But town Comptroller Susan L. Gagner said getting federal dollars for projects like reconstructing Pleasant Street or painting the Forge Hill water tank will not save Franklin from a budget deficit in fiscal 2010.

"Anything used for infrastructure comes out of capitol funds. It's not going to help the operating budget," she said.

Read the full article including the listing of "shovel ready" projects that Franklin submitted for consideration in the Milford Daily News here