Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Frequently asked questions: "Why do some citizens disagree with rating agencies about Franklin’s debt?"

Why do some citizens disagree with rating agencies about Franklin’s debt?

There are some assumptions about municipal borrowing that may seem contrary to the average person. Think of it this way. Individuals need to borrow money and then pay it back in order to establish their credit rating. Cities and towns do too. It is actually in the best interest of a city or town to carry debt. Most folks that buy a house want to pay off the mortgage as fast as they can. Eventually, they sell their home; hopefully make a profit; and, someone else takes on the mortgage. In the case of Franklin, however, the Town and its taxpayers own public property forever. We have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure (buildings, parks, roads, schools, utilities) that need to be maintained, replaced, repaired, expanded, etc., on an ongoing basis to meet community needs.

Just as homeowners take out loans for additions, improvements or repairs to their property, the Town borrows money for similar purposes. In the case of city or town, ongoing manageable debt is one indicator of the fiscal strength because it demonstrates that the community is committed to taking care of important community property.

If we do not re-invest in our infrastructure in a timely manner, the overall appearance and operations of the Town suffers. The failure to invest would eventually hurt property values. Who wants to live in a town with a crumbling infrastructure? Every homeowner knows that structural problems don’t go away, they just get more expensive to fix.

Our goal as a Town is to maintain a debt level between 3.5% and 4% of our general fund revenues. This is a standard range for many municipalities. Our estimated FY 10 general fund revenue (excluding the debt exclusions) is $90,011,796 and our general fund debt is $3,283,433 or 3.6% of our general fund revenues. If we equate it to the average homeowner with a household income of $60,000 per year, the mortgage payment would be $2,160 per year or $180 per month.

One of a series to address frequently asked questions


The special election on June 8th gives Franklin voters the choice:

Increase taxes to continue to provide the services we have this year (and that does not restore any of the services already cut)


Continue to cut municipal services for all and cut educational opportunities for our children

I'll help to provide the information. You need to do two things:
  1. Make your choice
  2. Vote on June 8th

You get bonus points if you talk with your neighbors about this and get them to vote!

Additional information on the override can be found here:

Franklin, MA

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