Saturday, December 5, 2009

Davis Thayer Reading Challenge

Saw this sign out walking this morning:

Franklin: Davis Thayer reading challenge

Yea for reading!
Go Davis Thayer readers!

You need Social Media awareness

You need to be social media aware. With a little time to enable, it is free and easy to monitor.

Wouldn't you like to know what is being said or written about you? You can be a company, an organization, or an individual. It doesn't really matter. The need is there, the risk of non-awareness or non-response depends upon the nature of what is being said and what you do.

What do you mean?
According to a recent news article, some student let school officials know about a Facebook group that threatened a middle school assistant principal. The article goes on to say that some students maybe suspended for their actions creating the group.

How can I be aware?
The simple way to start is to set up a Google Alert. The alert can be set up for a specific term or combination of words. It will send an email to you each day with a summary of what it found the prior day.

Here is a screen shot of the alerts I use:

If you would like to know some additional ways to listen, let me know.

The Milford Daily News article can be found here

Dr Scott McLeod has the Eight Stages of Listening here

Chris Brogan has Five Tools I use for listening

Beth Kanter has listening tools on her social media wiki here

Recycle update

Attached is a complete list of the types of large rigid plastic that is accepted at the Beaver St. Recycling Center.  This is a great program to take a lot of plastic out of the trash and recycle it.  Please help us keep the container clean - NO TRASH, VINYL, BAGS, SIDING, PVC PIPE or anything not listed on the attached sheet.

Think - Rigid - Plastic!

Chris White
Solid Waste Coordinator
Franklin DPW

The attached sheet is here:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

If you are not already subscribed to receive the recycling updates directly to your email, please consider doing so. You can subscribe on the Franklin website here

Note: For Franklin Matters email subscribers, you'll need to click through to the blog page to view the document attached.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Watch Know

The Internet is full of useful information, but it's disorganized and often unreliable. Despite its problems, the potential of the Internet for education is especially huge. Imagine tapping into that potential.

Imagine collecting all the best free educational videos made for children, and making them findable and watchable on one website. Then imagine creating many, many more such videos.

Just think: millions of great short videos, and other watchable media, explaining every topic taught in schools, in every major language on Earth.

Finally, imagine them all deeply and usefully categorized according to subject, education level, and placed in the order in which topics are typically taught.

WatchKnow—as in, "You watch, you know"—has started building this resource.
Click through to view the WatchKnow site here

A sample video on photosynthesis from Bill Nye - The Science Guy:

The one key advantage is that all the videos are categorized according to topic and age appropriate for viewing.


Pay for performance

Pay for performance sounds so good, it conveys images of comfort like motherhood and apple pie. The devil is in the details.

How do you measure the performance?
Whose performance is measured?

When you try to apply these to the educational environment, this becomes troublesome. There can be a rational approach to this problem and should be a consideration as the School Committee, School Administration,  and the teachers sit down to begin to renegotiate their contract terms.
A much broader assessment of teacher performance was needed to capture the breadth of the teacher's role (Gratz, 2005). After four years and substantial effort, teachers and administrators collaborated to produce a new plan that the board, teachers, and voters ultimately approved. In the process, Denver expanded its definition of performance.

Denver's groundbreaking professional compensation plan replaces the traditional "steps and lanes" approach to compensation, in which teachers receive annual "step" increases as well as "lane" increases if they earn additional degrees. Only one of the new plan's four components directly addresses academic achievement goals—and that one is based significantly on teacher-set objectives, not just standardized test scores. In addition to student academic growth, the plan addresses teacher skill and knowledge, professional evaluation, and market incentives—compensating teachers who work in hard-to-serve schools or in hard-to-staff positions.

Note of caution: Since it took Denver four years to get to an agreement, I certainly would not expect any immediate agreement here. It would be nice to start the discussion and eventually get to something better than what exists.

In the News - Angel tree moved, Holiday Stroll

The Post Office finally realized they were breaking policy and the tree needed to be moved.

Friends of Franklin move angel tree to Shaw's

from The Milford Daily News News RSS

Organized by the Downtown Partnership, more than 100 people gathered in front of Dean Hall for a tree lighting ceremony before taking off to explore offerings at over 35 participating businesses.

"This is better than we ever expected," said Partnership Executive Director Lisa Piana. "I'm sure the weather has something to do with it."

Franklin Holiday Stroll a success

from The Milford Daily News News RSS

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Stroll, Dec 3rd from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Franklin, MA – ‘Twas the month before Christmas and the Franklin Downtown Partnership decided to throw a holiday party in downtown Franklin, and more than 35 businesses decided to join the fun!

The Partnership will officially kick off the holiday season with the Holiday Stroll on Thursday, December 3, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa and some of his elves, music, art and holiday treats are all part of the fun planned for revelers both downtown and around Franklin this year. Visitors can follow a trail of luminaries that light the downtown and each participating business will have a map detailing what special events and treats are being offered.

The Stroll starts at Dean College at 4:30 with a holiday tree lighting ceremony in front of Dean Hall. Enjoy free hot chocolate and plenty of singing to kick off the season.

The highlights of the evening will be an appearance by Santa at Simon’s Furniture on Summer Street from 5:00 to 7:00, while Santa’s elves will be at ARTBEAT from 4:00 to 6:00. Carolers will entertain the crowds by singing favorite seasonal songs as they stroll through the streets. Radio station 103.3 WODS FM, Boston ’s holiday music specialist, will ring in the cheer by broadcasting its festive blend of holiday favorites at the patio on East Central Street .

At Café Dolce, the coffee will be hot and the music will be playing as local artists from the Franklin Art Association set up their easels for a colorful night of painting. “Stop by, grab a cappuccino and watch local artists create paintings right in front of your eyes,” says Sue Sheridan, president of the association.

Residents are also invited to shop the new Handmade Crafts Gallery at Artbeat. The gallery features original art, unique jewelry and gifts created by local artist and will be open throughout December. “Artists will be on hand from 6:00 to 8:00 to talk about their art,” says owner Jan Whitted.

Visitors can see framed calligraphic art on exhibit at five locations downtown, including Jane’s Frames, Emma’s Quilt Cupboard, Franklin Center Commons ReMax Realty, Rockland Trust and Artbeat. Jane’s Frames will host an artists’ reception that evening, showcasing artwork by calligraphic artists who are members of Masscribes, a Massachusetts-based calligraphy guild.

“The Franklin Downtown Partnership created the Holiday Stroll to give everyone in the area another reason to come downtown and connect with our community,” says Lisa Piana, the partnership’s executive director and the organizer of the Stroll.  “In order to have a vibrant downtown, our stores and business owners need residents to eat, shop and spend time in Franklin .  These types of events are fun and hopefully remind residents to come downtown.

“We have many generous sponsors who make putting on events like the Holiday Stroll possible,” adds Piana.  “These events add so much to the community and we are very fortunate to have so much interest. The Partnership would love for the Holiday Stroll to become an annual event like the Harvest Festival.”

Holiday Stroll revelers will find maps at each participating business to help them navigate all the specials at the downtown and surrounding retailers.

On East Central Street, those businesses include:

A Cut Above Hair and Nails
, which has relocated to 56 E. Central St, will have cider and refreshments from 4:00 to 8:00. They will give 20% off cuts for new customers and complimentary eye and lip waxing for new and existing customers that night.

Party Paints and Pottery
will pass out their favorite holiday cookie, complete with a recipe card, to all visitors.

Café Dolce will offer coffee, holiday treats, live music and art demonstrations.

Jane’s Frames will be throwing a party with live music and refreshments. Enter a free raffle for a framed Patriot’s panoramic print and get a coupon worth 15% off framing in January. Stroll in and enjoy free samples from Tastefully Simple’s gourmet food collection.

H & R Block will hand out holiday treats and treat visitors to a free “Forward Looks” tax checkup and free “Second Looks” of prior years’ returns. Visitors can also enter to win a free tax return.

Sarapaan will have a holiday sale featuring 20% off all handcrafted jewelry (excluding custom designs). Get holiday presents for your loved ones or treat yourself.

ReMax Realty
invites downtown residents to meet and greet each other at its open house, where cheese and crackers and beverages will help to ring in the holiday season.

On Main Street:

Berry Insurance will give away hot chocolate to help warm holiday revelers.  Strollers are also invited to enter a raffle for a free gift basket.

Fitness Together
will serve fresh fruit and healthy holiday smoothies.

Hair @ Nail It invites visitors to enjoy hot cocoa while they get a free Christmas polish change.

Emma’s Quilt Cupboard
invites visitors to stop in and discover unique, hand-made gifts for the holidays. Come see a selection of quilts, wall hangings, table runners and baby quilts at their annual sample sale, going on the first two weeks of December.

The Spotlight Shop will invite patrons to enter a raffle to win two premium tickets to an FPAC holiday show of their choice:  either Nutcracker or Humbug!

The Franklin School for Performing Arts invites visitors to stop by the studios and watch performances in the recital hall throughout the evening. There will be three different performances you won’t want to miss.

Facial Rejuvenation
will give out free Jane Iredale Lip Drink SPF 15. This SPF zinc oxide broad spectrum lip balm has a macadamia nut oil base (not petroleum), antioxidants, green tea and vitamins C and E, and the flavor is a mix of lemon and orange oils.

Pisani Shoes invites everyone to come shop for new holiday shoes and enjoy Mr. Pisani’s private art work on display.

Craig Roberts Studio will give out a free $25 gift certificate for a studio portrait. The certificate can be used for family, extended family and children’s portraits.

On West Central Street:

Hair Mania will offer a free holiday gift and 10% off all hair products.

The Fire Station will be holding a Holiday Fire Safety Expo and handing out holiday treats. Come learn safety tips on candles and Christmas trees lights.

On Cottage Street:

Franklin Pizza and Deli
suggests stopping in for dinner after the tree lighting. Buy any large pizza and get a small cheese pizza free.

On Summer Street:

Simon’s Furniture invites families to meet Santa and receive a holiday treat. Visitors can also enter a raffle for a Free 19-inch flat screen LCD HD TV!

ArtBeat Your Creativity Store Kids can help Santa’s elves make glittery holiday ornaments for free. They can also make gifts for family and friends starting at $10. From 6:00 to 8:00 the store will host a reception for the Handmade Craft Gallery.

Salon Sorella
invites everyone to come in and warm up with a cup of cocoa and start their holiday shopping with 15% off the purchase of gift cards.

Around Franklin

CVS Pharmacy will continue the holiday fun at both locations. Stop in for free product sample gifts.

Shades In Place
, located at 76 Grove Street , will throw an Open House that evening and give 15% off plus free installation to anyone who stops by.

DCU - Federal Credit Union
invites holiday shoppers to stop in for a free cup of coffee, tea or a checking account. DCU will also hand out candy at Simons Furniture during Santa’s visit.

Other participating businesses include:  Itch’s Stitches, Pretty Is Pink, Vallee’s Jewelers, Rick’s Restaurant, Rome Restaurant, Bamboo House, Central Pizza and Isabella’s Groceria. Stop by and enjoy some holiday treats!

Silver sponsors for this event are NHS Print, Middlesex Savings Bank, Rockland Trust and DG Ranieri Supply Company.  Bronze sponsors include Artbeat Your Creativity Store, CVS Pharmacy, Ficco’s Bowladrome, Rome Restaurant, Laura Lowe/Coldwell Banker, the United Regional Chamber of Commerce and Digital Federal Credit Union.

For more information on this event contact Executive Director Lisa Piana at or (774) 571-3109. The Franklin Downtown Partnership is a non-profit organization whose primary mission is the revitalization of downtown Franklin . The FDP believes that a vibrant downtown is key to the economic success of the town of Franklin , and it organizes events like the Holiday Stroll to promote awareness and help the town prosper. For more information visit Community Links.

Town Council Mtg Smry 12/02/09

The collection of posts that were reported live during the Town Council meeting on Weds 12/2/09:

In the News - check your mail carefully

In October, Dacey sent letters to 800 delinquent bill payers, warning a lien may be filed on their property. He said the lien will be split evenly in the February and May bills, the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

He said people may wrongly assume the mortgage company and banks have paid their utility bills.

"I have a feeling a lot of people are getting these letters and think, 'I don't have to worry about this, the mortgage company is taking care of it.' It's wrong to assume that," he said.
Read more about this in the Milford Daily News here:

Franklin official: Pay your taxes or risk lien

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

Senior Center Newsletter - December

This month's newsletter from the Senior Center:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Note: For Franklin Matters email subscribers, you'll need to click through to the website to view the document.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Live reporting - closing

Jeff thanks for all the sponsors for the Christmas lighting on Sunday

Snow and Ice budget is coming, negotiated to reduce contractor payment by $10/hr, reduced salt and sand use with new routes, part of consortium on salt purchase to reduce cost per ton

Hearing on Achorage Road last week, reducing roadway area and storm water runoff, residents pleased with plans underway

Legislature has gone to holiday without giving the Gov approval for reductions

Approval for the architect has been granted by the State
Building Committee meeting on Dec 14th at 6:00 PM



Powderly reiterate to come up with some document on rationale
Holiday Stroll downtown from 4:00 to 8:00 PM

Zollo - If the Town were to pay the State's portion of the Quinn bill, about what would that be?
Nutting - About 150,000.

Zollo - commending student athletes at FHS 

Pfeffer - thanks for the Alumni Club sponsoring the breakfast before the Thanskgiving Game. 
Next Tuesday, Bob Fahey and wife will have been in Franklin for 50 years.

Kelly - attended the lighting at the Common, Santa showed up and the kids were happy.

Jones - took the tour of the Police, Fire and DPW very impressed with their services.
Plug the election next Tuesday and then Jan 19th, get out and vote
congratulations to the football team!

Whalen - championships tend to be few and far between so they should soak it in.

Mason - congratulations to the Dean College football team

Pfeffer - move to go to executive sessions, not to return to open session
passed 8-0

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


Live reporting - Action items

5. Resolution 09-78: Appropriation – Veterans’ Benefits
Thanks to Bob Fahey for providing this service to our veteran citizens

motion to approve - passed 8-0

6. Resolution 09-79: Appropriation – Employee Benefits - Unemployment

see notes from Finance Committee meeting 12/1/09 for background

With the State extension on unemployment, will that affect us?

motion to approve - passed 8-0

7. Resolution 09-80: Appropriation – Elections Budget
motion to approve - passed 8-0

8. Resolution 09-81: Grant utility easement on Oak St property

motion to approve - passed 8-0

Live reporting - License transactions

G. LICENSE TRANSACTIONS –  Annual Alcohol License Renewals

recommending acceptance of the listing (pending three for outstanding fees)
motion to approve - passed 8-0



Live reporting - action items - taxes

1. Resolution 09-74: Classification Tax Allocation– Residential Factor
motion to accept contingent upon DOR acceptence - passed 8-0

2. Resolution 09-75: Classification Tax Allocation – Open Space Exemption
motion to accept contingent upon DOR acceptence - passed 8-0

3. Resolution 09-76: Classification Tax Allocation – Small Businesses Exemption
motion to accept contingent upon DOR acceptence - passed 8-0
4. Resolution 09-77:  Classification Tax Allocation – Residential Property Exemption  motion to accept contingent upon DOR acceptence - passed 8-0

Live reporting - Tax Classification hearing

F. HEARINGS  -        Annual Tax Classification Hearing – 7:10 PM

DeBaggis, Norman, Doyle, Feeley

Tax rate increase from 11.17 to 12.03%

When property values go down, why does the rate still go up?
Basically, the Town takes the prior tax levy and adds 2.5%, including the new growth and debt exclusions results in the total new tax levy for the Town budget.

How is the value of my house not reflected in the assessment?

Dealing with the 2008 calendar year data for this cycle. 2009 is not complete as we are only in December, so the State mandates use of the prior full year data. There is a lag in the data used.

Assessments will go online in the next couple of days and should be available on the Town Assessors website.

Q - Powderly - If we are constrained by prop 2.5% why is my bill going up more than 2.5%
A - the Prop 2.5 is applied at the Town tax levy and not at the individual residence level.

Q - Zollo - How come you don't get good assessments for commercial/industrial properties? I have heard that there is the lag effect and lack of comparable data points.

A - Those are comments I have heard about 3-4 years ago. I don't think there is an inequity now. 

Q - Most citizens believe that the assessed values are close to fair market value, but there are commercial properties where there might be some differences.
A - Residential is assessed at the fair market value so it is easy to compare. Commercial property is assessed on a number of factors (cost, market, industry) only one of which is the fair market value. The full valuation process is determined by the State. There may be a perception or feeling that we might have missed something but the values have to be qualified.

Q - I am hearing these frequently. The most important thing we can do is to fight to change the perception.

Nutting - I want to reinforce Assessor Feeley's point on the commercial process being an apples to oranges approach compared to the residential process. The assessors follow all the rules and regulations and then the State validates the numbers. Could one property be out of whack, it is possible.

Q - Whalen - a theoretical example to help get to the point that Councilor Zollo is making. 
A - on that, for the benefit of the public, it is the rent and not the business entity that is the difference.

Q - How do we compare in assessment valuation dropping?
A - The jury is still out as other communities are going through the same process now.
Franklin has shown a less significant decline in residential valuation based upon the housing sales over the last 18 months.

Q - Last time you didn't want to make a recommendation on split vs. single?
A - We are not in the position to do so, our role is to provide the data.

Q - Have there been recommendations for split tax before?
A - No

Debaggis - Continue with the single tax rate as the school portion of the budget as the commercial/industrial does not benefit from the major portion of the budget.

Feeley - I concur with Mr DeBaggis for his point and I'd add two more. With the 80/20 split that we have, the commercial industrial contribute about $10M of the $50 million. The Police and Fire depts budgets along are close to this amount. Third, the split tax rate is not good for business especially when you consider the small businesses.

Whalen - Based upon the analysis I have done, Franklin has a lower single tax rate than most communities with split tax rates.

Mason - mentioned that Attleboro just passed their tax rate which is split and provided a lower rate to businesses to stem the loss of 107 businesses over the past year.

I spoke up about the single vs split is not the issue, we need to grow the pie. The economic development efforts of the community to grow the tax levy as sustain the level of services we want.

Zollo -

Powderly - I would like the argument articulated in a single pager for citizens to reference.

Motion to close the hearing
Approved - 8-0

Live reporting - Appointments


Liaison to the State Ethics Commission  (Debbie Pellegri)

motion to approve 8-0 (Whalen arrived)
Council on Aging   (Mary Hick, Ken Norman)
motion to approve 8-0

Live reporting - Town Council

Attending: Kelly, Jones, Mason, Pfeffer, McGann, Zollo, Powderly, Whalen (late)
Missing: Vallee. 

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – October 21, 2009; November 4, 2009

motion to approve, passed 7-0

1st H1N1 Dec 10th 4:00 - 8:00 PM at FHS Field House
according to CDC guidelines

Congratulations to FHS and Tri-County Football teams for making it to the playoffs.

Goal setting session 12/9/09 6:00 PM


John Maloney - comments on the Quinn Bill and the effect of recent cuts.
(video will be available on the Town website)

referencing case law that Quinn bill benefits should not be cut by the local community

Only dept that requires a minimum of an associates degree as a requirement for employment

Suggestion to visit the Police Association website for additional information

Finance Committee Meeting 12/1/09

 The live reporting for the Finance Committee (FINCOM) meeting on Tuesday, December 1, 2009.

In the News - Finance Committee

The Finance Committee meeting was reported on in the Milford Daily News here:

More funds sought for jobless benefits

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

Franklin 2009 Annual Report

For some good reading, the 2009 Annual Report is now available.

You can access this file from the Town Clerk's web page here (pdf0.

You can also find the 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004 Annual Reports (PDF) files here

CDC FluView: H1N1 Activity

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Public Health by Julia Hurley on 12/1/09

Every week the CDC analyzes information about influenza disease activity in the United States and publishes key findings in a report called FluView. There has been significant media coverage of the report released yesterday covering flu activity for November 15-21 citing a decrease in H1N1 activity. It is important to realize, however, that while activity has decreased in some key indicators it has also increased in others. For example, the report states that thirty-two states are still reporting widespread influenza activity at this time, including Massachusetts. 

While some of these numbers make it seem that the H1N1 flu season has peaked, it is simply too soon to know if it is actually on the decline in Massachusetts. Every flu pandemic is unique so only time will tell if these downturns will continue. In the meantime, it is more important than ever that everyone continue to practice good health hygiene to help prevent getting or spreading any type of flu. Be sure to cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow instead of into your hand, and wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after you cough or sneeze. Finally, be sure to get both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine as soon as they are available to you. 

You can read the full FluView every week on the CDC's website at:

Things you can do from here:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Live reporting - FINCOM

New business

Jeff showed a map of Franklin where the Charles River Watershed Association, an advocacy group for the Charles River, will be looking at studying how we can reduce the phosphorous output into the streams and ultimately into the Charles River.

EPA and DEP determine the regulations. Franklin, Milford and Bellingham will be part of a pilot process to see how it works. Our regulations will cover land of 2 acres while the rest of the State is covered by regulations for 5 acres.

Related to the Delcorte dam study, the ponds there help to retain the water which allows the water to have the phosphorous drain into the land rather than flowing down the stream.

Lien of Water/Sewer bills
Due to lack of payment, the sewer/and water liens will be applied to their tax bills. The banks and processing companies have determined to only pay the bill and not the lien. Once a lien is placed and penalties are accrued, there is a multiplier effect on interest penalty.

Fiscal 09 taxes, about 100 folks where they have not been paid. A lien on the property will be recorded on the Register of Deeds and posted publicly. If you do get a letter, call the Treasurer Collector immediately. The penalty interest is 16% on liens. A hundred dollar bill can add up very quickly.

An application for a grant to put solar panels on the Parmenter School is being made. No info at this time as to what the status will be.

Motion to select Rebecca Cameron as Vice-Chair
Approved 8-0

Jim Roche
Candidates are being interviewed for an open spot on the Finance Committee.

Jeff Nutting
Regional Transportation was the big cut, it affects Tri-County but not us.
We have to be cognizant of potential budget cuts during the year at the State level. We have done another sweep within the major departments to avoid expenses and save some money in anticipation of further cuts. We'd rather avoid spending now and save to avoid further cuts in overall services or personnel.

The pension system needs to be looked at to see how it is funded. No time frame has been determined yet. The lower return on investments forcing this. Calculations were based upon an 8-9 percent return. What it will mean is an increase in payment by the Town. As the older folks retire, the newer folks will be picking up a greater per cent.

Motion to adjourn
Passed 8-0

Live reporting - Finance Committee Mtg

Linda Huempfner
Pat Goldsmith
Jim Roche
Phyllis Meserve
Jaun Rivera
Mark Cataldo
Rebecca Cameron
Brett Feldman (late)

Craig Maire
Robert Texiera

Motion to approve minutes for Oct 6, 2009
approved - 7-0

Per Jeff Nutting, there are three appropriations for approval, the transfer would be from "free cash". The "free cash" amount was recently certified at $2,385,242 (very close to last years total).

1 - Motion to approve $6,000 for Elections
approved - 7-0

2 - Motion to approve $30,000 for Veterans Benefits
The money is a legal obligation. This money is reimbursed at a 75% rate after the fact. Franklin currently has 22 active cases, the most in recent history. This program is uniquely handled by the State, most others are handled at the county or State level. MA is handled at the local level. This is the third year there has been an additional request. The business has grown recently and has been hard to forecast. These benefits are for Franklin veterans.
approved - 7-0

3 - Motion to approve $175,000 for Unemployment
Stephanie has re-looked at the unemployment folks, there are 26 collecting currently. There is no reasonable expectation for these actually gaining employment before the end of the fiscal year. The total exposure is 191,000. We are hedging a bet and coming for less now. We can come back later if the numbers change.

(Brett Feldman arrived)
Approved - 8-0

Jeff provides an update on the Tax Classification Hearing scheduled for the Town Council meeting Wednesday night. The average values have declined. The valuation is 11 months old.

The tax rate is going up to 12.03%

The first two tax bills are estimated, the third and fourth are actual tax bills.

Tax levy, debt exclusion and new growth are the three components of the new tax levy.

Choo Choo stop closed

The bullet was dodged previously but as with programs associated with the MBTA, stick around for more change. It had been reported earlier this year to be closing as the MBTA was going to install ticket machines. Then the Choo Choo Shop remained opened as they backed off the timeline for machines.

Well today, the shop is closed and ticket machines are not to be found around the station building. Maybe they are scheduled for delivery.

Don't misunderstand me, as a commuter, I want train service on a schedule, run effectively for a reasonable price.

Is it too much to ask for such changes like this to be better communicated or coordinated?

Survey says

This entry will keep track of the final results on the Franklin Matters poll questions.

Question: Should the Treasurer/Collector position be changed from elected to appointed?
Yes - 9
No - 6
The question opened on August 4 and closed on August 18. The question will be on the November 2013 ballot for Franklin voters to really decide.

Question: "Would you be in favor of further amending the Franklin Home Rule Charter to provide for the election of a mayor to govern the city known as the town of Franklin?"
Yes - 17
No - 27
The question opened on Jun 20 and closed on June 30th. It will be a non-binding question on the November 2013 ballot.

Question: "Should the Wadsworth Diary continue to be shared daily for February?"
Yes - 13
No - 10
The question was introduced and then closed on Jan 31, 2012

Question: "Do you think the school committee earns an 'almost very high' level of engagement with the Franklin community on school issues?"
Yes - 12
No - 13
The question was introduced and then closed on Nov 29, 2010.

Question: "Would you pay approx. $70 to put the utilities underground?
Yes - 22
No - 44
The survey was introduced in this link and closed on Aug 28, 2010.

Overall - is the curbside trash/recycle process better than before?
Yes - 69
No - 17
The poll question closed at midnight August 14, 2010.

If the override was split into 2 separate questions, would you have approved the school override? Q1 - $2.1 million for schools Q2 - $900K for roads/the town
Yes - 33
No -  22
This question comes out of the post-override discussion referenced here. The poll closed at midnight on June 25, 2010.

Do you think the new trash/recycle process will be a good thing for Franklin?
Yes - 8
No - 11
This question comes out of the decision to lower the annual curbside fee and implement the new process in July 2010. The summary of the changes can be found in here: FM #58 - Week ending 2/21/10

Should the Town consider saving money by plowing the streets less well than they currently do?
Yes - 5
No - 14
This question grew out of the discussion at the Town Council meeting on 1/6/10 concerning the sidewalk snow removal plans. The poll will close 1/15/10 at midnight.

Do you find that the Franklin School District (across the School Committee, Administration, and individual school web pages) provides the information you need in a way that is easy to find?
Yes - 3
No - 12

Will you get the H1N1 vaccine when it is available?
Yes - 2
No - 10

Should Franklin remain with a single tax rate?
Yes -11
No -5
The article that explains the background for this question can be found here

Who is in the best position to control bullying?
Parents - 7
Schools - 3
The article that drove this question can be found here

Should your school measure Body Mass Index (BMI) to report to you and your physician?
Yes - 5
No - 12
The article that drove the question can be found here
The issue came out of the School Committee meeting on 10/27/09

If you have a suggestion for a simple question poll, feel free to send it to me.

In the News - split tax vs. single tax rate

"Changing to a split rate does not in and of itself raise a penny of additional tax revenue to the town," council Vice Chairman Stephen Whalen said. "Rather it just shifts the overall tax burden, such that businesses pay more of the overall tax levy."
He compared Franklin to Milford and Bellingham, towns with split tax rates, and said that Milford businesses are taxed 73 percent more than residents, and Bellingham's commercial properties are taxed 46 percent more than its residential properties.
"A single tax is more business friendly because it results in a lower property tax rate paid by businesses in towns with a single rate," he said.

Franklin to vote on split vs. single tax rate

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

For my analysis on the tax rate you can view my slidecast here

Monday, November 30, 2009

Santa visits the Town Common

The newly refurbished bandstand was ready to provide a good spot for Santa to visit Franklin and all his friends on Sunday.


Note: for those reading this via email, you'll need to click through to the web to view the picture slidshow.

FM #50 - Slidecast

This slidecast combines the audio of the podcast with the slides that I refer to.

Yes, I did make a mistake by not recording the text that should have accompanied the one page in the appendix. The text for the page is included in the notes above.

Town Council - Agenda - 12/02/09

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – October 21, 2009; November 4, 2009




Liaison to the State Ethics Commission  (Debbie Pellegri)
Council on Aging   (Mary Hick, Ken Norman)

F. HEARINGS  -        Annual Tax Classification Hearing – 7:10 PM

G. LICENSE TRANSACTIONS –  Annual Alcohol License Renewals



1. Resolution 09-74: Classification Tax Allocation– Residential Factor
2. Resolution 09-75: Classification Tax Allocation – Open Space Exemption
3. Resolution 09-76: Classification Tax Allocation – Small Businesses Exemption
4. Resolution 09-77:  Classification Tax Allocation – Residential Property Exemption
5. Resolution 09-78: Appropriation – Veterans’ Benefits
6. Resolution 09-79: Appropriation – Employee Benefits - Unemployment
7. Resolution 09-80: Appropriation – Elections Budget





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


The full set of documents for this meeting can be found on the Town website here

Sunday, November 29, 2009

FM #50 - What Matters in Franklin, MA

This segment was joined with a slideshow to create a slidecast. The full production can be found here:

This internet radio show or podcast is number 50 in the series for Franklin Matters. In this session, you give me about ten minutes and I'll fill you in on what matters in Franklin. In particular, we'll prepare for the Town Council meeting this Wednesday where the big item on the agenda will be the annual tax classification hearing

Time: 10 minutes, 47 seconds

MP3 File

Session Notes:

Music intro
My intro
FM #50

This internet radio show or podcast is number 50 in the series for Franklin Matters.

In this session, you give me about ten minutes and I'll fill you in on what matters in Franklin.

In particular, we'll prepare for the Town Council meeting this Wednesday where the big item on the agenda will be the annual tax classification hearing beginning at 7:10 PM.

This is the time and place where the Town Council determines to keep a single tax rate or decides to implement a split tax rate.

I have reviewed the data provided by the Board of Assessors for this hearing. I have also spent some time on the Dept of Revenue website obtaining some historical data on Franklin's budget, tax rate, etc.

I have prepared a few slides to share some information that I think can help understand the overall situation to get ready for the meeting Wednesday.

Page 2 shows a table showing the residential vs. commercial/industrial property mix since 1999. It has varied a little each year but generally around 80% residential and 20% commercial/industrial. The high point for residential was 82.12 in 1988 and the low point was 77.04 in 1993.

Page 3 shows the same numbers in a chart format. As there is so little variance, I think this is more clear and understandable than the table of numbers.

Page 4 shows the tax rate as it has varied throughout the years from 1988 to 2009. I really shouldn't use a line to depict the point in time number for each year, but it is much easier to view the data this way. The tax rate high point was in 1997 when it was 14.21% and the low point (in the period shown) was 8.86% in 2007. I find it interesting that the tax rate has dropped for nine of the last twelve years and yet all you hear about is our tax problem?

Well, Page 5 more clearly shows what our tax problem is. The numbers on this chart depict the average tax bill for the period 1988 through 2009. As you can see from the reddish bars, in no year did the average tax bill decrease. The tax rate line from Page 4 is also shown here. Clearly, the tax rate whether it goes up or down seems to have little effect on the tax bill. It is always going up.

There are many reasons for the increases shown. I don't have all the information to explain nor do I have the time this week to do so. What I can show on Page 6 is how the assessed value effects the tax rate. The reddish bars in this case depict the NET change in assessed total value of all the properties in Franklin. Since 2006 the commercial industrial (CI) assessed values have been in a decline. In 2006 and 2007, the new grown for CI covered the decline in valuation so there was a net grown for CI. But for 2008, 2009 and for FY 2010, the new growth has not been able to cover the decline in valuation. More importantly, on the residential side, the decline in valuation has far exceeded the new growth. Hence the overall decline in total assessed values has dropped from 4.9 billion in 2007 to 4.3 billion for FY 2010. With less tax base upon which to levy the same amount of tax revenue, guess what, the tax rate will increase. The decline in overall assessed values has driven the increase for 2008, 2009 and will do so again in 2010.

Yes, I can hear some folks now saying “let's go with a split tax rate”. With kind of property mix we have, a split tax does not solve our problem. See, the split tax does not increase overall tax revenues, it only shifts the proportion of the pie that each party pays as shown on Page 7. For a single dollar decrease in residential property tax, the CI increase would need to be $4. We don't need to shift the tax burden from one to another. We need to grow the overall tax base. We need a bigger pie.

The best opportunities for grow come from the underutilized CI space we have. You should be aware of the efforts of Bryan Taberner and others in the Department of Planning and Community Development. They are busy working to market the attractiveness of Franklin for CI uses. This is where we need to develop. We don't need additional residential properties which would further burden the school system. We need healthy growth in CI properties to provide tax revenues and maybe even provide some jobs for local residents.

Page 8 and 9 provide information on the sources of the data that I used to prepare this. As well as contact information if you have any questions or would like to review this further.

One page in the appendix that charts the “free cash” to “free cash as a percent of the overall Town budget. At the end of the last council meeting, Judy Pfeffer asked Jeff Nutting for some information on the history behind “free cash”. I expect Jeff to come back with his answer but while I was putting together my analysis, I found these numbers at the MA DOR website that may help answer part of Judy's question. I think the current administration has done very well in reducing the fluctuations that can be seen over the years. The big spike in FY 2001 I believe is likely related to the settlement that the Town won. It ended up in “free cash” before the Town Council moved it to the Stabilization Fund. (Note: It is my mistake that this paragraph of text did not get recorded. It does go along with the one page that did make it to the appendix.)

For the week ahead:
  • Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday
  • Town Council meeting Wednesday
  • Holiday Stroll on Thursday sponsored by the Downtown Partnership

I would encourage you to participate in these events.

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This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but I can't do it alone. I can use your help.

How can you help?
If you like this, please tell a neighbor.

If you don't like this, please tell me.
Thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit

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

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and East of Shirley. The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with permission.

East Central/Cottage Construction Alert

 Just received the phone call from the Franklin Police and the text of the message follows:
Hello. This is the Franklin Police Department calling with a special traffic advisory. The intersection of Route 140 (E Central Street) and Cottage street will be under construction beginning Monday November 30th. There will be limited traffic lanes/access. Please seek alternate routes. Thank you for your understanding.
This should be interesting to a Monday morning surprise for some folks, especially those from out of town heading to the train station.

The alert doesn't say when the construction starts. I would guess around 6:00 or 7:00 AM. Hopefully, they'll be done before 4:00 PM to free the intersection for the going home traffic.

What intersection are they talking about?
The one downtown near the railroad bridge. The Rome Restaurant is on one side, Franklin Pizza was on the other (until it just moved further down Cottage).

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East Coast Driving School

The signs on the door and windows announcing the location for East Coast Driving School. They are moving into the Franklin Center Commons building next door to Sarapaan.

Santa on the Town Common at 4:00 PM

Santa Claus is coming to Franklin today

from The Milford Daily News News RSS by Ashley Studley/Daily News correspondent

For visitors asking where is the Town Common?

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