Monday, December 13, 2010

FM #80 - Week Ending 12/12/10

Let's take about 10 minutes to review what matters here in Franklin, MA as the week comes to a close Sunday Dec 12, 2010.

Time : 8 minutes, 43 seconds

MP3 File

Session Notes

This internet radio show or podcast is number 80 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 as this week comes to a close on Sunday Dec 12th.

This past week, the Town Council approved the smallest capital budget in recent years. While we have 2.1 M in 'free cash' the joint decision (administration and Town Council) was to keep $500,000 for snow/ice and $800,000 for unemployment insurance expense. The snow and ice budget has been growing closer to a realistic number over the years but given the variability in NE weather, and the tightness of the budget recent years, it is better to under forecast it and cover with free cash than to over forecast it. The unemployment insurance pool is being created in case an override fails come May/Jun 2011 and there are a large number of Town and School employees laid off.

The segment of the Town Council meeting covering this capital budget:

As much as some folks still think that the Administration is incompetent, the actions and their results have some quite the opposite. Their performance has shown a high level of stability in the overall budget with lots of alternative planning.

Just flash back to the chart in the appendix for last week's slide cast, the one slide I think makes this point. Look at the variation in free cash over the years. The variability has narrowed in the last several years. The revenue forecasts have been closer to reality, the budget expenses have been managed very closely. Both of these combine to result in 'free cash', which is not 'free' nor really cash. Free cash should be created each year, in a tight and acceptable range, especially given the size of the operation Franklin is running.

Back to the Council meeting, the tax rate was set at 12.95 as calculated and expected. It also continued the single tax rate that I believe rightly should be used here in Franklin. You can disagree if you choose, but the numbers speak for themselves.

The segment of the Town Council meeting covering the Tax Hearing:

As another sign of good financial management, Franklin is going to fund some $2 M for school repairs with a bond issue. The bond issue will fit within the operating budget and not result in an override consideration. The Council has been operating with a policy of using up to 3.5% of the total operational budget for debt service and has been building some capacity in this area in the last year or so with more expect in the next year as debt retires. This is a good financial maneuver and you can hear more of the rational behind it during the Council discussion

The segment of the Town Council meeting covering the school bond issue:

Looking ahead:
School Committee meeting on Tuesday and the next Town Council meeting Wednesday

School Committee agenda is published, the Town Council is not yet available.

School Committee has the anti-bullying plan is the major item on the agenda. The plan was released a couple of weeks ago for feedback and will be voted on during the meeting Tuesday.

While the TC agenda is not available, I did receive an advance copy of the revised approach to the downtown commercial zoning changes. If you were confused by the initial plan, you were not alone. The plan has now been split into three parts, the first part will be discussed Weds. The cover memo and supporting documents were published on Franklin Matters Sunday and the link is included here.

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Thank you for listening.

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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 the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark and Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!

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