Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Live reporting - closing

commenting on the citizens comments, it was not $350,000 spent, it was $100,000
it was not a court proceeding, it was an arbitration issue and not a public record
the legal bills are a public record and were part of the school committees warrant





Powderly - Councilors breakfast at Senior Center
I am meeting with Karen tomorrow, we are trying to figure out the best use of that committee, once we resolved the tax abatements, we did not meet much. I appreciate your input, it hasn't been officially disbanded, it is looking for new direction

Pfeffer -
Kennedy School Playground committee most active I have seen, they are around
Can we get an updated listing of the councilors?
Nutting - it will be in the package for next meeting

Kelly -
thanks to the Concerts ont he Common and the DPW for the work on the holiday decorations
Santa came on Sunday and it was a good time

O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required
motion approved, via roll call 8-0

Live reporting - legislation for action

1. Resolution 11-65:Classification Tax Allocation– Residential Factor
motion to approve - passed 8-0

2. Resolution 11-66:Classification Tax Allocation – Open Space Exemption
motion to approve - passed 8-0

3. Resolution 11-67:Classification Tax Allocation – Small Businesses Exemption
motion to approve - passed 8-0

4. Resolution 11-68: Classification Tax Allocation – Residential Property Exemption
motion to approve - passed 8-0

Live reporting - Tax hearing



2 minute break to get to 7:10 for the scheduled hearing start

F. HEARINGS - Annual Tax Classification Hearing – 7:10 PM

Ken Norman, Chair Board of Assessors
Kevin Doyle, Director of Assessors
Chris Feeley, Vincent DeBaggis - board members

Jeff Nutting, what you see tonight in 15 minutes is the result of over 2,000 hours of work
the State has already provided a preliminary assessment in approval of the process
Thanks for all the work done

Kevin Doyle - 
providing an overview of the package
page 2 a summary of the status change in valuations
Pages 6 - 10 a listing of the commercial and industrial properties
page 11 - shows the calculation for the residential vs commercial industrial class

Page 12 - shows the calculation to get to the tax base valuation - new growth valuation

personal property - one time growth, not expected to repeat
a large account that was unanticipated

What is personal property?
personal property- business assets that are taxable locally (furnishings, computers, etc.)

Page 14 - calculates the levy limit

Page 21-22 what if scenarios? answers the questions on shifts if a split tax rate was chosen

Page 23 - from the DOR website

Page 24 - shows the tax rate against an "average" value
Page 25 - shows the tax rate against the "median" value

Page 26 - the levy as applied against the different classes and percent change from last year

page 27 - a summary page showing the major classes over the years, depicting changes year to year

Roy - question on Franklin Village getting a mortgage of $44M with an assessed value of $46M?
Doyle - the deed sometimes provides detail and the mortgage can sometimes provides more detail. This is some speculation. What we did do, we engaged a consultant to assist in the valuation, gathered income and expense information for review by us and by the DOR to confirm if we were using appropriate schedules
Norman - it is a national company and they could be doing something with the property and taxes that we don't know

Nutting - can you explain the data used?
Doyle - We are using last year's data as this year is not yet complete.

Jones - 
Doyle - most property is owner occupied, communities that typically go with the residential exemption are larger cities or more seasonal resort type areas where the buildings are not generally owner occupied. What you have to understand, is that the residential exemption would be taken from the other residences. With a high level of owner occupied, a residential exemption would provide little offset practically

Norman - Your other question is basically with prop 2.5%
Doyle - the 2.5% is there pretty much automatically, my main goal day to day is to be fair and equitable. The adjustments need to be made in the same way.

Bissanti - congratulations on a good package, what do you see?
Doyle - We have looked ahead but those are part of the test group. The first six months of 2011 were similar to the market closing at the end of 2010. We don't predict future value

Feeley - our job is as historians, we are not here to predict the future

Powderly - we did not say what the new tax rate is yet, it would go from 12.79 to 13.73. Where do vacancies stand? mostly in the Commercial industrial piece

Doyle - we do have an allowance for vacancy and collection loss, historically if you look out over a 10 year period, some properties have never been vacant and others are frequently so. 

Powderly - it is obviously a lag

Doyle - we receive information confidentially so we can't share some specifics with others

Jones - how do you compare Franklin to surrounding towns?
Doyle - probably want to turn to the realtors for that, DOR would have that. 

Nutting - remind folks of the way the system works in the commonwealth, you need to compare the total year to total year, the first two bills are estimates

Powderly - with a single rate versus a split tax rate, if we were to go with a split rate, to take one dollar from the residents would raise the commercial rate by $4.

Hearing closed

Live reporting - Citizens comments

Ken Norman
1 - recommending the continuation of a committee to help coordinate the efforts for the seniors

2 - recommendation on better visibility to law suits pending with the town particularly in getting exposure to the expense associated with such

Live reporting - Town Council

Present: Dellorco, Kelly, Powderly, Vallee, Pfeffer, Jones, Bisanti, Roy
Absent: Mercer


- This meeting is being recorded by Verizon, Comcast, and Franklin Matters.

Haley Goulet - for leading the dog park effort


Budget workshop - Jan 11
Workshop on Dec 14th for Town Council, public invited

Franklin Area Blogs

One of the features here at Franklin Matters is to provide links to other blogs in the Franklin area. The listing can be found in far right column. Scroll down below my Flickr photos of Franklin, the logos for the United Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin Downtown Partnership to find the listing of Franklin Area Blogs.

The listing is updated every time each site posts on their site. In this way, you can always see the most current item they have shared. You can click through to read that item and then linger on their site to explore what else they have shared.

There are three updates to make you aware of today:

Two on the Holiday Stroll from 02038 and Berry Ins:

Holiday Stroll this Thursday in Franklin, MA

"When the time comes, we'll be as generous as we can"

Both last night and next Tuesday's training are held in executive session, as the training process includes applying the negotiating style to real examples of issues within the community, Mullen said. 
"We will be talking about actual Franklin situations, so we can really practice going through the motions," Mullen said. 
Sabolinski added that, while decisions will not be made on contracts in the training, the topics the group will tackle in the upcoming project will be identified. 
Union president Chandler Creedon said he worries that a new negotiating process could be worthless without support from Town Council. 
"One of the things interest-based bargaining is based on is trust, and I'm not sure we have any trust in Franklin at this point because of what the Town Council did," Creedon said, referring to a late-October decision by the council to cut $350,000 from the School Department's budget.

Read more:

In the News - Cub Scouts, flu shots, dog park

Cub Scout Pack 126 hosting pancake breakfast

Holiday News from Jane's Frames

Having trouble viewing this email? Click here
3rd Annual Holiday Stroll
Thursday, December 1st  4pm-8pm
Dear Steve,
         Join the festivities beginning with tree lighting and Carolers at Dean College at 4 p.m. Then head Downtown to Jane's Frames. Come by for some treats and get some unique ideas for your Holiday gift giving. Boston Sports Club will be joining us with fitness contests and an appearance by Scooby Doo! 
         We are collecting for the Franklin Food Pantry beginning on December 1st until December 12th. Your donation puts you in a drawing for a framed Patriots prints (see below). We will be matching all donations up to $200.
Thank you,       

Holiday Stroll flyer
 December 1st 
 4:00-8:00 PM 


Treats for young and old
 Gingerbread Cookies,  Caramel apples, Hot Cider,  Live Entertainment 

Drop off your Donation for the Franklin Food Pantry & be entered into a drawing for a framed Patriots Panoramic print.

super bowl

Photo Restoration is our specialty! 
There is still time to get your antique photos restored and framed for that unique Holiday present. We specialize in creating beautifully restored photos printed on high quality artpaper. They will look just like the originals looked! When you frame them using our archival framing methods they will last through many generations.

Your "Name In the Frame" 
Name in the frame
Family name in frame  

Professional   Baseball  Football  Hockey
College Sports, Family Name, Golf, Soccer, Sports pubs
and many other choices
$40. each plus starting at $40 for framing a 14 x 11
         Come in before December 5th to place your Holiday Framing and receive a free Photo Album. We provide expert design services and high quality archival framing. We always guarantee our work, our goal is that you are pleased with the finished product.
        For that person for whom you can't decide on : how about a Gift Certificate from Jane's Frames is always a pleaser!

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Jane's Frames | 11 East Central Street | Franklin | MA | 02038

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Food Elves and Partnership "12 Days of Donating"

Franklin Food Elves Launch '12 Days of Donating' Campaign
The Franklin Food Elves and the Downtown Partnership will launch the "12 Days of Donating" food drive to benefit the local food pantry at the third annual Holiday Stroll on Thursday, December 1, at the 4 p.m. tree-lighting ceremony.
The charitable community service group's goal is to collect 1,200 pounds of food and $1,200 in 12 days to benefit the Franklin Food Pantry. The campaign will run from December 1 through December 12. Along with a food bin set up at the tree ceremony on the Dean College campus, the Elves are placing bins at six downtown locations where people can drop off non-perishable food items.
According to the Franklin Food Pantry, more than 1,000 residents use its services. Recent Census data shows the need is greater; more than 3,000 Franklin residents, or 9% of the town's population, are struggling. That need increases in winter due to the cost of heat.
If the Food Elves reach their goal and collect 1,200 pounds of food, participating businesses pledge an additional $1,200 in matching funds. Franklin Food Elves co-founders Melissa and Cameron Piana and the FDP hope that the community will support the Food Pantry by helping them reach this goal. What will 1,200 pounds and $1,200 do for Franklin?  1,200 pounds of food can provide 923 meals to those in need. The $1,200 can provide an additional 6,000 meals.
Look for food donation bins at these locations: 
   Franklin Downtown Partnership office, 9 East Central Street
   Jane's Frames, 11 East Central Street
   Printsmart Office Supplies, 20 East Central Street
   Berry Insurance, 9 Main Street
   Dean Bank, 21 Main Street
   Dean College, Campus Center
For more information about the Franklin Food Elves and the "12 Days of Donating" campaign, please contact the Franklin Downtown Partnership at or at (774)571-3109.  For more information about the Franklin Food Pantry and what items are needed, please go to their website,


What is turquoise?

What to find out something? Google it.

It is fascinating when you stop and look back at how search has evolved.

Google search is enabled on this site to help you find things once you are here. More than half of you have arrived here via a search result!

Welcome. I hope what you find here is useful.

Dean College: "Blinking"

The Dance program at Dean College will be putting on a show called "Blinking" Dec 10th.

Dean College - show time!

In the News - FHS, Nutcracker, workshops, $50K, handbells, fair

Franklin High winter concert, silent auction set

Franklin Performing Arts Co. presents 'The Nutcracker'

Kids’ workshops at Franklin Art Center

Help Kennedy School win $50k in Pepsi Refresh Challenge

Elizabeth Warren - House Party - Dec 3

Christine Manns is holding a house party for US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren on Saturday, Dec 3 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Seating is limited so please RSVP early. You can RSVP by calling Christine at 508-528-7905.

Monday, November 28, 2011

FM #101 - Tax Rate Info

This is #101 in the series for Franklin Matters. This covers tax rate information to prepare for the hearing set for the Town Council meeting on Weds Nov 30, 2011.

Time: 11 minutes, 15 seconds

MP3 File

The presentation to view along with the audio:

Show Notes:

This internet radio show or podcast is number 101 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.

In particular, we'll prepare for the Town Council meeting Wednesday, Nov 30th, where the big item on the agenda will be the annual tax classification hearing beginning at 7:10 PM.

This is the time and place where the Town Council determines (1) to keep a single tax rate or decides to implement a split tax rate and (2) sets the actual rate.

I have reviewed the data provided by the Board of Assessors for this hearing. I have also spent some time on the Dept of Revenue website updating my files with historical data on Franklin's budget, tax rate, etc.

I have updated the slides to share information that I think will help us all understand the overall situation.

Page 2 shows how the tax rate is calculated. Starting with the levy limit from 2011, 2.5% is added. Based upon Prop 2.5%, up to this amount can be added without a special override vote. The growth from last year is added. This provides a subtotal. Any prior debt exclusions are added and this provides the maximum levy limit. We can technically achieve this due to rounding factors on the rates. So we have what they call an “excess levy capacity” of $9,341. This leaves us with the tax levy, the amount that Franklin is authorized to raise this year. The amount is divided by the total assessed values of all the residential, commercial, industrial and personal property.

The tax assessors package for the Town Council meeting has a number of pages devoted to the property analysis of the residential, commercial/industrial (CIP) to get to this value. The major factor to remember is that due to the overall economic conditions, property values are declining. Divide any number by a declining number and the percent will increase.

Page 3 shows the tax rate as it has varied throughout the years from 1988 to 2012. I really shouldn't use a line to depict the point in time number for each year, but it is much easier to view the data this way. The tax rate high point was in 1997 when it was 14.21% and the low point (in the period shown) was 8.86% in 2007. I find it interesting that the tax rate dropped for ten years in a row (from its peak in 1997), has gone up for the past 5 years, and yet all you hear about is our tax problem?

There are many reasons for the increases shown. I don't have all the information to explain nor do I have the time this week to do so. What I can show on Page 4 is how the assessed value effects the tax rate. The blue bars in this case depict the NET change in assessed total value of all the properties in Franklin. From 1997, the peak tax rate, the overall assessed values rose and the tax rate dropped each year until the values peaked in 2007 (when the tax rate hit its low point). Since 2007, the assessed values have dropped and the rate has risen. With less of a tax base upon which to levy the expected tax revenue, guess what, the tax rate will increase. Simple math.

Well, Page 5 more clearly shows what our 'tax problem” is. The numbers on this chart depict the average tax bill for the period 1988 through 2012. As you can see from the red bars, in no year did the average tax bill decrease. The tax rate line from Page 4 is also shown here. Clearly, the tax rate whether it goes up or down seems to have little effect on the tax bill. It is always going up.

One alternative to increasing the single tax rate is to consider a split tax rate. On Page 6 - the table depicts the residential vs. commercial/industrial property mix since 1999. It has varied a little each year but generally around 80% residential and 20% commercial/industrial. The high point for residential was 82.12 in 1988 and the low point was 77.04 in 1993.

Page 7 shows the same numbers in a chart format. As there is so little variance, I think this more clearly depicts the small range that the commercial/industrial and residential split has had over the years.

Why did I spend time on the CI vs Residential split? I can hear some folks now saying “let's go with a split tax rate”. With kind of property mix we have, a split tax does not solve our problem. See, the split tax does not increase overall tax revenues, it only shifts the proportion of the pie that each party pays as shown on Page 8. For a single dollar decrease in residential property tax, the CI increase would need to be $4. I have said it before and it bears repeating again: We don't need to shift the tax burden from one class to another. We need to grow the overall tax base. We need a bigger pie.

The best opportunities for grow come from the underutilized CI space we have. You should be aware of the efforts of Bryan Taberner and others in the Department of Planning and Community Development. There are scheduled additional bylaw proposals to increase the zoning for biotechnology. This would be one potential area for good growth. We don't need additional residential properties which would further burden the school system. In particular, the residential growth we have seen recently has been mostly in the rental unit arena and that is even worse for Franklin than a single family home. We need healthy growth in CI properties to provide tax revenues and provide some jobs for local residents.

Page 9 provides information on the sources of the data that I used to prepare this.

Page 10 provides my contact information if you have any questions or would like to review this further.

---- ---- ----

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but I can't do it alone. I can use your help.

How can you help?

If you like this, please tell a neighbor.
If you don't like this, please let me know.

Thank you for listening.

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 &Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!

New MassBudget Report on State Education Funding

MASSBudget Facebook
Cutting Class
November 27, 2011 

In a new report titled "Cutting Class: Underfunding the Foundation Budget's Core Education Program," The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center finds that districts across the state are hiring fewer teachers, providing less professional development, and spending less on materials & technology than the state funding formula considers appropriate for a quality education.

Why is this happening? Because the foundation budget--the model school budget on which state aid is based--has not been updated to reflect the current costs of education. Currently, it underestimates health insurance costs by more than $1 billion dollars, and special education costs by another billion. On several occasions, the state has also failed to make inflation adjustments indicated by the law.

In the highest-wealth districts, such shortfalls are often made up with additional local revenues. But in many communities, raising local revenue is extremely difficult. On average, the lowest-wealth districts spend 32 percent less on teachers than is specified in the foundation budget formula.

To accompany "Cutting Class," MassBudget has an online interactive tool that allows you to look more closely at individual districts and the impact of wealth on education spending. 

Click here to see a copy of the report. Or here to use the online tool. 
MassBudget provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies--with particular attention to the effects on low- and moderate-income people. "Cutting Class" was supported by the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials.

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