Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Live reporting - Long Range Financial Planning Committee

Present: Doug Hardesty, Deb Bartlett, Craig DiMarzio, Graydon Smith, Sue Rohrbach, Steve Whalen,
Absent: Jeff Nutting, Orrin Bean, John Hogan,  Ken Harvey, Tina Powderly

Approval of minutes - postponed to next meeting
Action items - none

Metrics and benchmarking - Steve Whalen (Vice Chair, Town Council)

background, research analyst for an investment banking firm
drawn in by a comment made by J Nutting at a meeting sometime ago; "a town's budget is a reflection of their values"
started collecting data, started with a map and filled in data for the communities around us
The DOR site is a tremendous source of info, so much data is available
came up with 30 communities
walking through the info on his comparison worksheet
color coded communities by single versus split tax rate
we have a low tax rate compared to other communities with either a split or single tax rate
we are 21st in comparison on the average tax bill (of the 30)
we are 26th on relative tax burden which is a comparison of tax rate to community wealth
we rank 28th in percent of local property tax contributing to the total community revenue
we rank 1st in the percent of state aid contributing to the total community revenue

second sheet on Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education data
rank 27th of the 30 on per pupil spending for 2009 and would be on 2010 as well, two towns are missing data for 2010
we rank 10th in the same 30 for percent of population in school, so amongst larger communities, we have more students than most

discussion on the quality of the whole educational experience and how to best represent what we get. MCAS scores are readily available, SATs offer more comparison to those outside MA, with the increase in fees, cutting of enrichment programs, protected the core curriculum (and maintained, if not increased performance).

need to show where the cuts are happening, i.e. how much of the budget is allocated to the core versus the enrichment and what does that show? are the changes in the program indicative of the budget issues? how much of a lag in the reporting is there? We are seeing the early warnings amongst the low income and English Language Learners (ELL)

The recent requirement to meet the bullying legislation within the budget restrictions, resulted more in a shifting of resources; language was removed from the elementary grades, Latin was lost in middle schools, the Spanish teachers moved from the elementary to middle and we are adding health teachers to meet the curriculum requirements for bullying

talked bout looking at the numbers, need the story to tell, how to convey the erosion that is occurring with the cut of over 100 teachers with an increase in students

Is there a community that was high and made cuts, where are they now? Randolph is one example amongst the 30 communities

can we tackle some of these things; i.e. key metrics around the school numbers are validated, define a number of meaningful metrics and a story around it (for four weeks out)

next to last sheet - Franklin was 3rd in growth amongst the 30 communities from 1990 to 2009
we are 22 of 23 on Police spending per capita (7 towns currently missing data for the current year - should be added over the next several weeks)

comparison of Fire similar, comparison of DPW more difficult to compare
we rank 14th on per capita overall town budget

in a comparison to Natick the population is similar, yet the growth of Natick since 1990 is 6% versus Franklin in same period of 45%. they have had a growth of 45% in net state aid versus 350% for Franklin in the same period

there are many takeways from this discussion, need to continue to look in the numbers, challenge them, there is a benefit to the simplicity in our peer group, do need to challenge the comparable listing

visibility creates trust so when you include the same listing, it makes it easier, when you start excluding some here and some there, it creates questions

it is not cherry picking the data, it is creating an apples to apples comparison

no matter which way we slice the data, we have a low tax, we are efficient, and we are dependent upon state aid which we have no control over

show the 30 peer communities and include the state average

need to include some value metrics, what are we getting that we are paying for?

Franklin, MA

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