Saturday, December 31, 2011

Franklin, MA: Finance Committee

The Finance Committee shall be concerned with all matters involving the finances and financial procedures of the Town of Franklin, as required by Massachusetts General Laws and the Town Charter. The Committee makes recommendations to the Town Council on all financial matters. 
Its goals are to:
1. Understand department responsibilities and performance.
2. Analyze department budgets and look toward future needs.
3. Simplify the budget process.
4. Recommend a balanced budget for the delivery of town services to the Town Council.
Additional information on the Finance Committee (or FinCom) can be found on the Franklin website

Page 134 (printed version) or Page 140 (or the following PDF version) also have info on the Finance Committee

Franklin, MA: Design Review Commission

As Franklin continues to grow, many signs, buildings and new developments are constantly being constructed. But, do all of them add to the beauty and charm of our town? Sometimes the initial designs are not what the town needs. 
How does the town help guide people to a better solution for the town? The Design Review Commission advises applicants on their submissions, encouraging applicants to revise their designs to enhance the New England character of our Town, in addition to approving signage.

Additional information on the Design Review Commission and it role can be found on the Franklin website here

The 2011 Annual Report also provides some info on page 132 (of the printed version or Page 138 for the PDF)

Corporate tax rate drops to 8.0 percent effective January 1

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Revenue by Robert Bliss on 12/30/11

DOR announced earlier this month a drop in the personal income tax rate effective for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1 from 5.3 percent to 5.25. This reduction extends to gains from investments held for more than a year (gains on investments held for less than a year are still taxable at 12 percent).

A second tax reduction also kicks in on Jan. 1, when the corporate tax rate drops from 8.25 percent to 8.0 percent.

And, as was the case with the personal income tax reduction, there is a backstory to the drop in the corporate tax rate.

Gov. Deval Patrick in his first year in office, in 2007, proposed to change the way the Commonwealth levies the corporate income tax with the introduction of a proposal to adopt combined reporting, a system that is now in place in about half the states. The idea was to come up with a corporate tax system that made it harder for corporations to shift taxable profits earned in Massachusetts to low-tax or no-tax states.

The Legislature rebuffed the governor's initial effort, but agreed to the appointment of a special commission to look at corporate taxation. In December 2007, the commission issued its report, and on the basis of recommendations in the report, the governor filed legislation to implement combined reporting.

In July of 2008, the governor and legislative leadership signed into law combined reporting. Importantly, the law included a gradual reduction in the corporate tax rate, which at the time was 9.5 percent. The rate was to be gradually lowered, to 8.75 percent effective for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2010; to 8.25 percent effective for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2011, and to 8.0 percent effective for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2012.

Combined reporting, in tandem with the rate cut, meant that the big multi-state or multi-national corporations would often pay more, while the in-state corporations in would in certain cases pay less, with the net effect producing a fairer corporate tax system.

In a press release issued yesterday, the Patrick Administration noted that the 2008 tax reform law meant that "Massachusetts-based businesses are paying a lower corporate tax rate while several thousand multi-state or multi-national companies are also paying at a lower rate, but reporting more in taxable income because they can no longer shift taxable profits to low-tax or no-tax jurisdictions."

The corporate tax reform law of 2008 also gradually reduced the financial institution tax rate from 10.5 in FY08 percent down to 9.0 percent effective Jan. 1, 2012.

The rate for S corporations with more than $9 million in annual receipts was modified so that the corporate rate (for a business corporation or financial institution as applicable) for the year minus the personal income tax rate for the year equalled the rate for the large S corporations.
The rate for S corporations with between $6 and $9 million in annual receipts was modified to 2/3 of the rate applicable to larger S corporations.

Corporate and business tax collections have risen and fallen with the economy since enactment of the law. In FY07, before the law took effect, corporate tax collection was $2.476 billion. In FY08, corporate tax collection hit $2.549 billion, but dropped to $2.099 billion in FY09 as revenues overall crashed. Since then, corporate revenues have recovered modestly, in line with the overall economy, to $2.119 billion in FY10 and $2.228 billion in FY11.

Things you can do from here:

In the News - Crime Updates

Home invasion 
Police Chief Stephan Semerjian said his department has solid leads and is close to an arrest in the case of a November home invasion.
Authorities say two young men zip-tied an elderly woman to her bed before taking her credit card and other valuables.

Read more:

Meeting notes archive for 2011


  • High School Project - Building Committee Forum 11/17/11 (audio)
  • Election 2011 (Nov 8, 2011) Summary

Note the fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30th. We are currently in the budget year FY 2012.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Franklin, MA: Inspections and Building Dept

Department's Mission:
All the functions of a Building or Inspection Department can really be summarized as a simple seven (7) part process. While the amount of information is sometimes overwhelming and there are hundreds and hundreds of pieces to our work, the overall process is simply seven (7) steps:

The Department:
1. Receives information (permit applications, plans, specs, complaints, etc.);
2. Reviews the information for compliance with a legal standard (Building, Plumbing, Electrical, Zoning Codes, etc.);
3. Issues approvals or list of corrections (permits, notice of deficiencies, cease & desist orders, etc.);
4. Inspects in the field for compliance with the approvals;
5. Signs off or issues corrections notices;
6. Stores, and makes available upon request, all of the foregoing as public records, and lastly;
7. Follows the State and Local financial processes for the Department.

Additional information on the work of this department can be found on their page within the Franklin website

Page 129 of the 2011 Franklin Annual Report lists the activity for the prior year (Note the page reference is to the PDF version, Page 124 would be printed version)

Franklin, MA: Cable Advisory Commission

Page 131-133 of the Franklin Annual Report for 2011 covers the Cable Advisory Commission. (Note the page references are to the PDF version, the printed version would be Page 125-127)

Town Council, School Committee and many other committee meetings along with some special events are available via live broadcast or replay via cable. The Commission is also looking into creation of a non-profit entity by which the cable operations would be run instead of by Franklin. Stay tuned for developments in this area.

In the News - out of control

Car hits Franklin restaurant

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Tree Pickup Schedule

Natural Christmas trees will be picked up curbside the week of January 9th on your normal trash and recycling pick up day. Make sure they are within 3 feet of the curb and out the day before. Artificial trees and/or trees with decorations, tinsel, lights or other ornaments will NOT be picked up.

This was originally posted to the Franklin, MA website

Winter Storm Overnight Parking Ban

Winter Storm Overnight Parking Ban is effective from October 15 to April 15.
The purpose of the winter storm overnight parking ban shall be to provide for the safe movement
of police, fire and emergency medical service vehicles during snow and ice storms and otherwise
provide for public safety during winter weather conditions. The parking ban shall also serve to
enhance the capability of the Public Works Department to remove snow and ice from the
roadways effectively and efficiently. 
A winter storm overnight parking ban shall automatically take effect upon occurrence of any of
the following: Snow, sleet, or freezing rain has fallen, or is imminent.
The National Weather Service and/or local television and/or radio stations or other media are
reporting commencement of snow, sleet, or freezing rain within the local area or are predicting
that snow, sleet, or freezing rain will begin in Franklin within 12 hours. 
The parking of any motor vehicle within the layout or right-of-way of any public street or any
roadway open to the public is prohibited between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. while a
winter storm parking ban is in effect. 
The Franklin Police Department shall enforce the provisions of this article and shall be solely
responsible for issuance of tickets and authorization of towing.
This was originally posted to the Franklin, MA website

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

“It was so important to take an active role"

The Kennedy Playground Committee’s fundraising goal was $85,000, but through individual, family and local business donations, car washes, bake sales, snack tables and several grants, the group has raised $95,000 so far. 
Arffa said the project will continue to raise money because the initial estimate left out pieces of equipment that the committee didn’t feel were completely necessary — like ladybug statues (the school’s mascot) and seats. The initial number also didn’t include the price of demolition or preparing the current space for new structures. 
“You want the parents to help,” said mom Karen Kerns. “Especially when you talk about raising this much money ... It’s really been a grassroots effort.”

Read more:

Related posts on the Kennedy Playground Committee:




Did you know?

Did you know?
No one shall commence to remove, fill, dredge, build upon, degrade or discharge into or otherwise alter the following resource areas: 
Any freshwater wetlands;, marshes; wet meadows; bogs; swamps; vernal pools; banks; reservoirs; lakes; ponds of any size; beaches; intermittent stream; lands under water bodies; lands within 100 feet of any aforesaid wetland or flood plain areas; lands subject to flooding or inundation by ground water or surface water; rivers and streams and lands within 200 feet of the mean annual  high-water line of any river or stream.

Before starting to do any of the above, it would be good to contact the Franklin Conservation Office. More information on the Conservation Commission can be found on the Franklin website here.

Conservation Commission Rules and Regulations (PDF):
On January 27, 2011, the following members of the Franklin Conservation Commission voted to accept these Rules and Regulations as they apply to the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and the Wetlands Protection Bylaw, Franklin Code at Chapter 181 
Jeffrey Senterman Chair
Andrew Tolland, Vice Chair
Christopher Botchis
Monique Allen
Ray Willis
Jon Fournier
Jeff Livingstone
Regan Harrold. Associate Member

In the News - tree pickup, auditions, copper wire

Tree pick up in Franklin next week

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Outdoors in Franklin

Looking to get out of the house and do something this week? Take a hike in Franklin.

Noted author Michael Tougias also wrote a "Trailguide: Outdoors in Franklin." The trailguide can be found on the Franklin website.

Author Michael Tougias has written many area guidebooks including River Days: Exploring the Connecticut River from Source to Sea, Exploring the Hidden Charles: A Guide to Outdoor Activities on Boston's Celebrated River, and New England Wild Places: Journey's Through the Back Country, as well as Until I Have No Country: A Novel of King Philip's War in New England and the non-Fiction King Philip's War: The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict. 
This guidebook was developed as an initiative of the Franklin Open Space Committee with support from the Department of Community Planning including former director Todd Ford, current Director Daniel Ben Yisrael, Town Ecologist Rich Vacca, and GIS Specialist Nick Alfieri as well as input and support from the Conservation Commission. Special thanks go to the graphic arts class of Mr. Eskay Sriram at Tri-County Regional Vocational School, which provided several excellent candidates for cover illustrations. The illustration selected was created by Corey Gray.

There are descriptions of walks covering the following:

• Franklin Town Forest
• Franklin State Forest
• Charles River
• Indian Rock
• DelCarte Conservation Area
• Beaver Pond
• Charles River
• Dacey Farm
• Uncas Pond and Trout Fishing
• SNETT Trail

As this was written in 2002, the some of the subject areas may have changed. The Dacey Farm has since become more formal open space for Franklin with the development of ball fields and most recently the dog park.

The trailguide can be found here (PDF):

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Boxing Day!

There were plenty of good times with the extended family around for dinner on Sunday. There will be more time this week to spend with family. For those also who have taken time off from work this week, let there be safe travels and good times to enjoy!

Boxing Day is traditionally a day following Christmas when wealthy people and homeowners in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants. Nowadays Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on December 26, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth nations.
Read more about Boxing Day here

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"the celebration of Hanukkah"

The lighting was part of the temple’s annual celebration of Hanukkah, the eight-day holiday meant commemorating the Jews reclaiming Jerusalem from the oppressive Syrian Greeks. 
“Hanukkah is most often a home celebration in Judaism,” Widzer said. “What we’ve developed as our tradition here is we take one of those nights and celebrate with the (congregational) family.” 
About a dozen families came to see the candles lit on the fourth night of Hanukkah, the men and boys wearing yarmulkes, the traditional cloth skull caps, of various colors. One man even wore a yarmulke with the Patriots logo emblazoned on it.

Read more:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ninja cookies

Christmas cookies

simple sugar cookies, some shape makers, different color frosting and some time

Ninja Christmas cookies

given the time, creativity will flow and maybe the ninja cookies will be delightful!

Have the kids (both big and little) gathered in your house for cookie decorating?

Hamilton Storage Technology

The following press release confirms the last step in the process for Hamilton Storage Technology to get the tax incentive that the Town Council approved. Hamilton Storage has purchased 3 Forge Parkway for its new headquarters facility.

The tax incentive allows the company to pay a smaller amount initially on the improvements they are making and gradually the amount increases over ten years. So whatever the tax would be on the base value they pay full and then only 5% for the first year on the improvement amount. The improvement amount increases to 10% the next year and ten percent each year thereafter.

Franklin gets revenue and an increasing amount of revenue over time. The company gets to develop their property bringing jobs to the area. A good win-win proposition.

Press Release - Hamilton Storage Technologies

Related posts on Hamilton Storage Technology




Update on trash and recycling pick up week of 12/25 and 1/1/12

Holiday Calendar

Important note - Trash and recycling will be NOT be picked up on Monday December 26th and Monday January 2nd. The schedule will be delayed one day with Friday pick up on Saturday.

The Recycling Center will be open from 8 AM to 12 Noon on Saturday December 24th and Saturday December 31st.

Originally posted on the Franklin website here

In the News - election spending, Hamilton Storage

Biggest spending won in Franklin elections

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"dictates the path the town should follow"

The town is still looking for two to three members of the public to serve on the committee. 
Members appointed to the Master Plan Committee last night were Town Councilors Andrew Bissanti, Matthew Kelly and Jeffrey Roy, Planning Board member John Carroll, Conservation Commission member Jeffrey Livingstone, Public Land Use Committee member Timothy Twardowski, and James Esterbrook from the Department of Public Works. 
“It would be nice to get two to three more people, to have diversity on the committee,” Town Administrator Jeffrey Roy said, noting that the various town committees are acceptably represented.

Read more:

Related post on the Master Plan

Updated 12/22/11
Per email from Town Councilor Judy Pfeffer, Steve Whalen was also added to the Master Plan committee as a citizen member during the meeting last night.

“We’re approaching this with a very open mind”

“The grant is going to be used to do a deep examination of our general education curriculum,” said Melissa Read, assistant vice president for academic affairs. “It’s all about the student learning. Are students learning what we want them to and what we believe they need to know in order to prepare for their next step?” 
Read said that Dean College begins the process of re-examining its general education courses every five years, and rolls out the resulting changes so that there is continuous progress. 
The difference this time around is that the $100,000 grant allows Dean to spend more time debating the advantages and disadvantages of changes, with faculty members as well as administration, and of helping faculty become adjusted to those changes with week-long summer and winter training sessions, called “institutes.”

Read more:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Food Elves, Downtown Partnership collect a ton of food!

Food Elves, Partnership Collect A Ton of Food

The Franklin Food Elves and the Franklin Downtown Partnership exceeded their goals for the ‘12 Days of Donating’ campaign this month, collecting nearly twice the food and monetary donations they hoped for to benefit the Franklin Food Pantry. Together the groups donated 2,035 pounds of non perishable items and $4,266 during the 12 day drive.  

According to Anne Marie Bellavance, Executive Director of the Franklin Food Pantry, these donations will help carry the food pantry through this holiday season and into 2012.  

“Based on our calculations, when we combine the weight and the dollar amount it translates into more than 17,000 meals,” says Bellavance.  “We have seen a cascading effect of community support beginning with this drive as well as help printing 250 cookbooks for our clients.  We are so very grateful to be surrounded by such a giving community.”

The Food Elves expanded their reach this year, placing bins at downtown locations and canvassing neighborhoods throughout town. The result was more than one ton of food and non-perishables collected for the food pantry.

DCU gave a $1,500 donation and Berry Insurance stepped up with a $1,000 gift. In addition to donations by residents, six downtown businesses, including Dean Bank, Dean College, Jane’s Frames, Printsmart Office Supplies, the Franklin Downtown Partnership and Berry Insurance, had pledged $1,200 in matching funds. The grand total of money raised was $4,266.

Franklin Food Elves founders Melissa and Cameron Piana are thrilled with the campaign’s results.

“A few years ago my brother and I started collecting donations in our neighborhood and the idea has grown into a much bigger way for us to make a difference for needy families in Franklin,” says Melissa. “We want to thank all the residents and businesses for the donations and all of our elves for their help. It was a team effort with huge results.”

“It is amazing to me how many people wanted to help us reach our goal,” says Cameron. “We are excited that we exceeded our goal for the Food Pantry and that so many people will benefit from the donations.”

The Franklin Food Elves are led by Head Elves Melissa and Cameron Piana. The elves are Katie Buccella, Kiara Chan, Jess Deaver, Amanda Dickson, Colleen Flaherty, Katie Flaherty, Elise Frank, Haley Frank, Santiago Leal, Kasey Lynch, Jacob Signori, Shannon Takahata and Mely Wu.

“We knew this community would support the elves and the food pantry but this response surpassed all of our expectations,” says Partnership President Nicole Fortier. “The support and positive feedback for this drive has been overwhelming. We are grateful to the residents and businesses of Franklin and to the local papers for helping us spread the word.”

The Franklin Food Elves is a charitable community service group.  The Franklin Downtown Partnership is a non-profit 501(c)3 group working to revitalize downtown Franklin.  For more information about either group please contact the Partnership at (774)571-3109 or  

Food Pantry Executive Director Anne Marie Bellavance, Partnership President Nicole Fortier, and Head Food Elves Cameron and Melissa Piana (left to right) at the Franklin Food Pantry. 

Food Elves Cameron and Melissa Piana deliver donations collected during the '12 Days of Donating' campaign to Food Pantry Executive Director Anne Marie Bellavance (left).

This was originally posted to the Franklin Downtown Partnership website here