"Asking residents to identify waste before providing them modern transparency tools puts the cart before the horse; it unfairly transfers the onus of accountability onto busy taxpayers during difficult fiscal times.
When will the Town of Franklin take steps to implement 21st century transparency, such as Worcester doing? It should be even easier for a small city to post all its expenditures online than for a large city."
As noted in the NECN story, Worcester is the first community to do this in MA.
I sent this question to Jeff Nutting who replied:
I do not know what is involved and how much time it would take but we can check it out. I will note this is an good example of how town and the school departments continue to get greater demands for services from all directions ( Federal and State laws, regulations, citizens) while we continue to shrink the staff. We try our best to accomplish all that is asked but at some point we will have to start making decisions on which requests we can accomplish and which one we will have to say no to. Clearly we must meet our legal obligations first. This means each time the Federal and State governments mandates a new program without any resources we have to divert staff time and money to meet that obligation. Just think how many hours we have spent over the last few years just on the Stormwater issue. When we start the next fiscal year in July I think we will have eliminated close to 40 municipal jobs in the last three years (maybe more). This does not count jobs eliminated in prior years. Yet folks will expect the same level of service. If you put is terms of a baseball team we would only be able to put seven players on the field to play the game.
From my own point of view, I wonder if looking at the check book is the best way to be transparent. Franklin already makes its information and budget planning process accessible. Very few folks actually participate in person at the budget hearings. These are the best times to really get the full story on what is being spent, how and why.
The budget hearings for FY 2012 will be coming soon. The School Committee has held their budget hearing and budget workshop. The Finance Committee will meet with each department to review their individual budgets line by line before the Town Council will cover the same ground (usually over two nights) and then vote on the final amount.
Stay tuned here and to the Franklin website for the schedule of budget hearings.
Financial audit of FY 2010
FY 2011 budget summary
FY 2011 budget detail
FY 2011 budget funding
The FY 2011 budget workshop was recorded and documented here
The FY 2012 budget collection can be found here