Saturday, February 26, 2011

Franklin residents gain with the Senior Circuit Breaker

The MA Dept of Revenue released numbers on the Senior Circuit Breaker program for all communities in the Commonwealth on Friday. Franklin does well with this credit. There has been steady growth in the number of filers, total credit received, and as a result the average credit per filer. The data released covers the tax years from 2001 through 2009. Now that the data is available, I'll watch to see when each new year is added to the table and update the numbers.

Tax Year Number of Filers Amount of Credit Claimed Average Credit
2001 87  $28,251  $325
2002 109  $66,448  $610
2003 150  $90,818  $605
2004 171  $107,020  $626
2005 202  $122,377  $606
2006 234  $158,800  $679
2007 248  $173,524  $700
2008 302  $217,429  $720
2009 324  $240,692  $743

Of the 335 communities where residents did receive the credit Franklin ranked 90th in the total number of filers. Franklin ranked 89th in total credit received but dropped to 175th in average credit received.

What is the Senior Circuit Breaker?
No other refundable tax credit equals the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit for putting money into the wallets of average taxpayers 65 and older. In tax year 2009, more than 77,000 senior taxpayers who were either homeowners or renters received credits of nearly $60 million. 
Yet it is safe to say that many eligible taxpayers have never heard of the credit. If you are reading this and have older relatives or friends who might benefit, pass on the word. The maximum credit, after all, is worth $970 in the coming tax year. 
The Department of Revenue has just released the rules and regulations for the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit in tax year 2010. The credit is based on the actual property tax or rent paid by the eligible taxpayer who is either living in their own home or paying rent. 
A taxpayer's total income may not exceed $51,000 for a single individual; $64,000 for a head of household; or $77,000 for married couples filing a joint return. The assessed valuation of a residence may not exceed $764,000. Many taxpayers 65 and over fall within these limits. 
The credit is equal to the amount by which the taxpayer's property tax payments in the current tax year, including water and sewer charges but excluding any abatement or exemption, exceeds 10 percent of the taxpayer's total income. 
The credit also works for renters. It is equal to the amount by which 25 percent of the rent actually paid during the taxable year exceeds 10 percent of the taxpayer's total income, with the credit capped at $970.

For additional info on the credit, check the State website here

To view (or download) the data from the state, check the web page here

The table of Franklin's data is also posted as a Google document and can be found here. I pulled from each year, the data specific for Franklin to make this table. The info in this table drove the chart and table found above.

Related post on credits or abatements for seniors

Franklin, MA

In the News - top dog

Mr. Bear is Franklin's Top Dog

Franklin, MA

Friday, February 25, 2011

Worst Ice Skater Ever!

Let's make this a video Friday!

Not sure if I have shared this groups exploits here before, I know I have shared them where I write elsewhere. I became aware of ImproveExverywhere several years and their exploits are rather good. This one is perhaps a little less dramatic or impressive than some others but it handles what could be a dangerous situation and turns it into a couple of moments of grace.


For more of a full write up, the full back story and behind the scenes info click through here to the ImrpovEverywhere website

Franklin, MA

Better searching for just the recipe you need!

Google has some wonderful news to help find recipes for special days, to use specific ingredients, or even for how long it will take to prepare! This brief video shows how:

Yes, the Franklin Food Pantry is pulling together a set of recipes for publication on the web as well as in a cook book that would be a possible fund raiser for the Food Pantry. Google's search enhancements will make the recipes you create and share easier to find!

If you have a recipe or two you want to share, please let me know or contact Michelle Clay who has graciously volunteered to head up this effort for the Food Pantry.

Franklin, MA

Guster - "Do you love me?"

No more iPad musical toys. This time, it is real instruments and live action, creative, fun with paints all captured and rendered with stop motion video.


Franklin, MA

4th Annual Random Smile Gala

The Random Smile Project does good work and is holding their 4th Annual Random Smile Gala on Saturday.
The 4th Annual Random Smile Gala will be held at Christina's in Foxboro at 6:00 pm. The event is a semi formal, black tie optional affair. There will be a surf and turf dinner with live music and both live and silent auctions. A few of the items up for bid include Patriot and Red Sox memorabilia, vacations, golf related items and electronics. Tickets are $100 and may be purchased via the Random Smile web site.
Read more in Patrick Coleman's Wrentham Times

Franklin, MA

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Franklin Community Garden - meeting Feb 28, 7:30 PM

There will be a Franklin Community Garden meeting to be held on Monday, February 28th from 7:30-8:30 PM. The meeting will be held at the Franklin Stop and Shop in the community room.

The meeting is open to the community, so feel free to bring others who are interested in getting involved. If you plan on attending this meeting, please send an email to

When you arrive at Stop & Shop on Monday, ask the customer service desk to direct you to the Community Room.

Thanks and we hope to see you on Monday the 28th!

In health and seedlings,
The Franklin Community Garden Steering Committee

Franklin, MA


Representatives from Franklin's Teenangels testified before Attny General Martha Coakley at a hearing on the progress of the anti-bullying legislation:

From Lisa Keohane, local mentor to the Teenangels chapter:
One item that was not written in the article was that Parry Aftab presented the kids with the "Teenangel Chapter of the Year" award at the hearing in front of Attorney General Coakley. The kids are soo excited. This was the first time in 6 years that this award has been given to a chapter other than the New Rochelle, NY chapter.

Prior posts on the Teenangels

Franklin, MA

"They are really not beholden to anyone"

"Any way you slice the data, we look like a low-tax, efficient (town government), dangerously over-reliant on a revenue source (state aid) on which we have no control," Whalen said. 
"They're a new set of eyes and they will challenge things (in the previous report) as they go through the process," said Douglas Hardesty, the committee's chairman. "When we are through, hopefully we'll learn something new." 
At a meeting last night, the committee discussed an analysis done by Whalen showing how Franklin compares to 30 comparable communities in the state in tax rate, and spending on education. 
Franklin has one of the lowest tax rates of the comparable communities, and it is one of the lowest in per-pupil spending, he said.
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Read my notes from the same meeting here

Franklin, MA

In the News - birthday party, Council positions opening, soldiers home

Franklin to hold party for residents who share birthday with town


Whalen, Zollo won't run for re-election to Franklin Town Council

Franklin, MA

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

Student iPad orchestra

How about a student iPad orchestra?

Thanks to David Warlick who saw this group at a conference in Hong Kong

Franklin, MA

In the News - student auction

Tri-County plans annual spring for students auction


Franklin, MA

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"He took great pride in the entire athletic program"

... the school district will ensure Leone isn't forgotten by naming the away-side press box at Franklin High School in his honor. The press box above the home bleachers is named after public address announcer John Padula. 
"The stories we've heard from over the years recounted what a great coach he was and how many lives he changed," School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy said. "We like to honor those types of people and thought it was tremendously appropriate to honor his name and somehow relate it with our football program." 
The School Committee approved the recognition at a recent meeting and Roy said school officials hope to hold a ceremony at a home football game in the fall.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News:

Franklin to name press box for former coach Jerry Leone

Other action items from the Feb 15th School Committee meeting can be found here:

The full set of notes reported live from the meeting can be found here
Franklin, MA

Looking for the Class of 1961

If life for the Class of 1961 has been topsy-turvy since graduation, I would not be surprised. 1961 was a special year. As wikipedia points out MAD Magazine's March 1961 issue announced that
this was the first "upside-up" year—i.e., one in which the numerals that form the year look the same as when the numerals are rotated upside down—since 1881, and the last until 6009

If you know of anyone in the Class of 1961, please let them know they are welcome to join the Franklin High School Graduation of 2011 as honored guests.

June 3, 2011 will be Graduation Day.

There will be a reception at 3:00 PM at the high school. The Class of 1961 will then process into the graduation with the Class of 2011.

You can call 508-553-4814 for more information.

Franklin, MA

In the News - Democrats. Jay T Jenkins, RUNA

Franklin Democrats elect delegates to state convention

Jay T Jenkins to speak at Dean College

Circle of Friends presents Celtic Band RUNA

Franklin, MA

Monday, February 21, 2011

X marks the spot

Running early one morning, I was startled to see a large X marking the sky over the Parmenter School. Such an opportunity was not to be passed up. I did stop and find the best view point for a quick photo. Then resumed running.

Franklin, MA

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dona's Tailoring

Dona's Tailoring has moved to Dean St. You might still see the sign on Cottage St where they used to be. Why the landlord won't allow a sign redirecting folks to the new location is another topic for another day.

They are now located at 19 Dean Ave. Just behind Dean Bank. A block down from the Post Office.

View Larger Map

You can visit their place page on Google for additional info here

Updated: I realized late on Sunday that I left out the prime reason for creating this post. I had taken my dry cleaning to DryClean Pros and asked if they could repair a zipper for an athletic jacket I had. They couldn't but referred me to Dona's Tailoring. I remembered having seen it along Cottage St and found where it used to be easily enough. It was no longer there. Searching on the web gave me lots of links to their old address and finally one link had a comment that said they had moved.  The next Saturday, I managed to get there while it was open and leave the jacket for repair. Dona told me the story about the landlord refusing to allow the re-direction sign. A couple of weeks later (only due to my schedule) I returned to pick it up. I should also note that I did return to DryClean Pros to let them know of the address change. They appreciated the update.

Small businesses need to be aware of how they are found on the web. There are so many directory services it may seem to be a full time job to track them down and make the changes.

What is the alternative? Incorrect information will send your potential customers to the competition! Take one directory at a time, fix it, then get on to the next. Eventually, all the info will be correct and your customers will find you.

Franklin, MA

Finding compassion

On the train of thought around the words we use and how we use them, this talk by Krista Trippett makes some compelling points about compassion.

Krista talks at point about this remarkable observation from Matthew Sanford:
"He says that he has yet to experience someone who became more aware of their body in all its frailty and all its grace without at the same time becoming more compassionate towards all of life."
Later in the talk she shares some insights from Albert Einstein including:
"... He foresaw that as we grow more modern and technologically advanced, we need the virtues our traditions carried forward in time more, not less."

Franklin's charter was updated recently to bring some of the language to a more appropriate usage for today. I do believe we need to remember the values and virtues that Einstein remind us to use more not less.

We are members of a commonwealth. We need to help each other, together we can do more than survive. Divided we won't stand a chance.

Franklin, MA