Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Live reporting - Long Range Financial Planning Committee

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

Motion to approve minutes of Mar 9 meeting, second, passed 6-0

Discussion on the questions which were drafted offline since last meeting and compiled in one listing.

Town Council priority, we do it
if the committee needs to answer it to do the forecast, we do it
if the citizens feel they need this answered, we do it

discussion on how the questions are answered
the purpose of the Q&A is not just to provide the sentence or two, but to position the issue, break it down to the central issue for the forecast for the Town Council and peoples need

notion of deliverables - tossing out for discussion
trying to get to a point where we know what are focused on, what the output is, when it is expected.
instead of a massive deliverable, updated once a year or periodically
maybe put the questions on a website, clickable so they can see the answer and drill down as necessary on the issue
more able to 'live' publish as they are developed

forum last year was terrible, questions were not good, dialog was terrible
why was last year different from the prior year when more came out, more discussion was real
should consider separating the forum/discussion from the override

consideration on first time versus repeating, 'old news'
hold in a smaller venue, need to defend against 'old news'

perception created by the nature of the questions, getting the word out in a face-to-face way should be in a way that can engage in a meaningful dialog; not to be associated directly with an override to avoid that set of political overtones

clarification on the listing of questions, Town Council separated only in that if we do nothing else need to address those two. they are likely to be answered in the light of the larger issues

committee taking time to read through the compilation of questions
small print (8 pt font) and about 45 in total

anything striking or appealing?
any questions to add?

comment - we have answers to most of the questions, although maybe not in the best format
to add, pros and cons of split vs single tax rate
separating pension from OPEB, focus on the health care side of that from the Council perspective, the pension is already set at the State level; should be on our legislative wish list.

need to layout and understand the difference between the pensions and OPEB

SUTA = state unemployment tax

The committee could model into the forecast, if this were to happen, then what would happen, what effects would there be? That might be better in the context of projections but not addressed in a Q&A format

it is fair that we are getting a break, but how much would we raise if we were at the median rather than so low in relative tax burden? Could be a valid question to answer, if risky

in the prior committee we did look at the Arlington work, the five year plan that they did. Not really comparable to Franklin in terms of the growth flux that we can face. some folks fear the series of overrides could be perpetual. This could be a loaded question for a Q&A section and not likely in the best way to be presented. Need to consider the planning aspects of this and use it in the modeling

by starting to address the focal points (i.e. Town Council and citizens) this is getting to the point of addressing the questions in a manner relevant to the audience. You can answer a question in a factual way and satisfy one
group, answer the same question with a story and satisfy another segment of the audience.

need to layout the one time events where the money was 'found' to address 'always' finding the money
isolate and hone in on the increasing costs as the costs are rising faster than the revenue
the impact of the schools and their programs with the rising deficits

the correlation between home values and local real estate taxes
what is the percentage basis comparison to say Wellesley, Newton vs Franklin? does it help our story?
where could we get the data? Realtors. we could also Google to see if some white papers have already answered the question

what kinds of leading indicators are available are telling the story
what are the lottery numbers for the charter school year over year?
what are the number of students going to private schools?


clarification on updating Steve Whalen's numbers, still to be done and used as needed

for things we need changed at the State level, we need Jeff or the Council to address what is the plan, what is the process for recommending change, how does that happen? if it is not realistic, I will be reluctant to put in the time and effort

we did discuss this last time, we need the top 2-3 things, one to let people know how the hands are tied currently but that if this happens, etc.  then we can do more. But we need to explain what that is, and ensure that there is some action on it

the question for Vallee - what is it you need to get something done? is it citizen actions, is it a group of communities?

how are we going to get the information, the answers to these question, the reality is not enough people care to get out and vote? that is the problem

if we identify the right questions, maybe they are the ones you don't know the answers to. As much and as long as many people have been doing this, they have not been doing this with a long range view. There hasn't been a level of rigor focused on this.

Most of the questions have been answered, the flyer from last time has the answers. If you haven't seen this flyer, then there is an issue.

discussion around pay to ride numbers in the current budget and lack of information in the budget document  to explain the difference, individual working with School Committee to discuss the question and follow on questions

any new revenue sources? what are the sources? how are they used?
under cost containment, what regionalization efforts have been taken?

what do unfunded mandates do as percent for the budget, that increase is taking away from services to be provided.

the answer may not be highly controllable but at least get an understanding on what the reality is

we can investigate, advise but not plan. I tend to use the long range finance committee when I say what we are. A planning group would select and execute the decisions on which way to go. That is up to Jeff and the Town Council.

next meeting in 3 weeks.

Franklin, MA

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