Saturday, December 3, 2011

"the change will be good for Franklin"

"The site work is starting - obviously, you see some of that," Big Y spokeswoman Claire D'Amour-Daley said. "We've been really wanting to expand our eastern stores for quite some time." 
Contractors knocked down the empty building two weeks ago, where the Franklin Buffet restaurant last stood, but D'Amour-Daley said it could take nine months to a year before the project is finished. 
"It's good for property values around here," said Town Councilor Andrew Bissanti, whose realty business is also near the land leased by Big Y. "It's going to be fantastic. It's just a matter of time before Rte. 140 gets built up nice and clean. Now is as good a time as any." 
But other local business owners and residents have mixed feelings on the grocery chain coming to Franklin, with some happy to see development but many worried about traffic.

Read more:

What once was:

Franklin, MA: BIG Y construction underway

What now is:

Big Y construction progress

You're Invited - Healthy Kids Summit - Tues 12/6 @ Patriots Place

An email from the YMCA:

We hope you can be part of the Healthy Kids Summit on Tuesday December 6th 4 – 5:30 PM at Patriots Place featuring a panel of experts and family activities. This is free event for families. As leaders in our communities Healthy Futures work, we want to make sure you are aware of great resource sharing events in our area, such as this one by Stop and Shop. We know that you will gain a lot of beneficial information and resources you can put into practice as well as have the opportunity to speak with experts in the field. Please consider joining us. We hope to see you there. Supporting Healthy Living,Lauren

 Lauren A. Marciszyn, RD, LDNDirector of Youth & Community WellnessHockomock Area YMCA774.235.2737

Downtown Partnership says "Thank You!"

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Franklin Downtown Partnership by (Franklin Downtown Partnership) on 12/2/11

Hundreds of people turned out in chilly but seasonal weather yesterday afternoon for the Partnership's Third Annual Holiday Stroll! 

The holiday tree lighting at Dean College kicked off the event. Carolers led the crowds in song, dancers entertained and an a cappella choir performed in front of Dean Hall. More than 250 Gingerbread Men and 250 Whoopie Pies were quickly devoured, along with gallons of hot chocolate. 

From there the Stroll wound throughout the downtown. Businesses kept their doors open late and offered shoppers incentives as well as refreshments. Kids decorated cookies at Dean Bank, created ornaments at the Franklin Art Association and met Scoobie Doo on East Central Street. Santa heard wish lists at Simon's Furniture and Mrs. Claus read stories to the younger crowd at the Historical Museum.

The Franklin Food Elves's donation bins were filling up quickly with the start of the 12 Days of Donating Campaign benefiting the Franklin Food Pantry. Just a reminder -- the bins will be set up at participating businesses through December 12 (click here for more information).

For more images from the Stroll please see the slideshow above right. 

Thank you to our sponsors for making this year's Holiday Stroll our best yet! 

Silver Sponsors:  Dean Bank, DCU, D.G. Ranieri Real Estate, Ferguson Enterprises, Middlesex Savings Bank and nhs print. 

Bronze Sponsors:  Judith V. Butler, M.A., LLC, Franklin Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, John J. Roche, Attorney, and Laura Lowe, Realtor, Coldwell Banker, Franklin.

Things you can do from here:

Giving the Gift of Less

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Catalog Choice - MailStop Blog by Jill on 12/1/11

Looking for a meaningful gift that everyone can use? Our new MailStop Envelopes save trees and reduce clutter by stopping unwanted mail. Prepaid MailStop Envelopes make perfect, practical gifts for your friends, family and co-workers. Everyone will appreciate this easy way to eliminate the waste of unwanted mail.
MailStop Envelope

MailStop Envelopes are great for people who are too busy to use our online service, not Internet-savvy, or just have not gotten around to stopping unwanted mail. With the postage-paid MailStop Envelope, you simply collect and send in mailing labels, saving trees and time with minimal effort. Give envelopes to anyone who wants to make a difference this holiday season and beyond.

At $6.75 each, a MailStop Envelope is the perfect stocking stuffer or gift. Give the gift of less – less paper waste, less clutter, less time managing unwanted mail – and celebrate a meaningful holiday season.


Things you can do from here:

Thanks to Abbe for pointing this tip out for us!

In the News - Youth baseball, music boosters

Franklin Youth Baseball registration

Help the Franklin Music Boosters: Have some pizza pie

DOR warns of Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit scam

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Revenue by Robert Bliss on 12/2/11

The Department of Revenue today released a statement from Taxpayer Advocate Dennis Buckley warning the public, tax preparers, and those who assist seniors in preparing tax returns of a scam that surfaced last year involving the popular Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit.

"The Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit last year helped nearly 80,000 state residents receive a refundable tax credit. Unfortunately, several unscrupulous tax preparers coaxed elderly public housing residents to fraudulently apply for the credit (residents of public housing are ineligible for the credit).

"The preparers who participated in this scam asked for a payment to submit the fraudulent application, and some seniors received the credit without actually qualifying for it. The Department of Revenue has notified those senior residents that the refund was obtained fraudulently and must be paid back.
"We ask you to share knowledge of this scam with your colleagues. Seniors are not eligible for the Senior Circuit Breaker Tax Credit if they live in public or subsidized housing," Buckley wrote.
The Senior Circuit Breaker will deliver a maximum tax credit of $980 in tax year 2011.

Things you can do from here:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Santa's arrival (photo slideshow)

I missed the tree lighting ceremony at Dean College but did manage to make it around to most of the Holiday Stroll on Thursday evening. As I made the rounds however, it was too dark to take good photos. I do have additional photos from Santa's arrival on the Town Common on Sunday to share:


12 Days of Donating to Benefit Franklin Food Pantry

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Berry Insurance Blog by berryinsurance on 12/1/11

Franklin businesses will be collecting canned goods for the Franklin Food Pantry for twelve days, from December 1st to the 12th as part of their "1,200 pounds of food and $1,200 in 12 days" campaign. Be sure to take part in this "12 Days of Donating" to help the Pantry support those in need this holiday season. Be sure to stop into any of these local spots listed below, anytime until the 12th, with canned goods or donations, and show your support for the community.
For more information about the "12 Days of Donating" campaign contact Franklin Downtown Partnership at (774) 571-3109 or at
For more information about this topic, or to get some answers about your current insurance situation, please visit our virtual insurance agency at, stop by one of our two locations, or give us a call at (800) 941-3317.
You can also find us on all your favorite social networking sites!
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Things you can do from here:

"this gets people thinking"

The Holiday Stroll, hosted by the Franklin Downtown Partnership, is meant to draw people through downtown and reacquaint residents with the businesses there on a more personal level. 
"It gives people a chance to talk to local store owners and business owners," said Lisa Piana, executive director of the partnership. "A lot of times people find out about new businesses downtown because they're taking the time to stroll downtown, instead of doing their errands." 
The stroll began with a ceremonial lighting of a large tree on the Dean College campus. Businesses nearby set up indoor and outdoor craft stations for children. They could, for example, decorate gingerbread cookies outside Dean Bank or make snowman ornaments in the Franklin Art Center.

Read more:

In the News - veterans benefits, adult education

Returning Mass. soldiers may receive more benefits

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Your local tax dollar is spent in your town"

The tax rate was raised from $12.95 per $1,000 of property value to $13.73 per $1,000, in part because of dropping home values. Towns often respond to declining property values by raising rates to at least maintain revenue totals. 
"Rates go up when the value of the town goes down because the value of the town needs to stay the same," said Councilor Glenn Jones, admitting that the explanation is basic and simplistic.

Read more:

The live reporting from the Town Council meeting Weds, Nov 30 can be found here

Additional information on the tax rate can be found here

Taking a LEAP! (video)

I met Steve Farber earlier this year and received an advance copy of this book. I don't have it anymore as it went to someone who really wanted to read it. Now with the official version available, I can get a new copy for myself. And help him with this new out reach effort!

"Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do" - Steve Farber

3 more Franklin Area Blogs

Three more items from the Franklin Area Blogs to highlight today.

Realtor Kathy Stankard writes about the Downtown Partnership's Holiday Stroll taking place today:

Upcoming Franklin, MA Holiday Events Worth Checking Out

Holiday Stroll Map

Breakfast with Santa - Franklin British Beer Company

What: Breakfast with Santa
Where: British Beer Company in Franklin
When: Saturday December 10th, 8:30am and 10am
Why: To benefit the Santa Foundation

Santa's coming to town!  Gather up the kiddies and let 'em know they better be good, for goodness sake, 'cause Santa will be hosting breakfast at the British Beer Company in Franklin.  Old Saint Nick will be flying in from the North Pole on December 10th for this special morning.  There will be two seatings: 8:30am and 10am, tickets are only $10 and $5 for kids under 12. The breakfast, and a raffle, will be helping us to raise funds for the Santa Foundation, who provides gifts for families in need during Christmas.  The foundation was able to help 700 families last Christmas…that's a lot of shiny happy local children!  The BBC is inviting the whole Franklin community down for some eggs and pancakes…all for a good cause.  Children should come with their Christmas wish list ready to go for good ole Chris Kringle.

British Beer Company
280 Franklin Village Drive - Franklin, MA

Town Council - 11/30/11

The collection of posts that were reported live during the Town Council meeting on Weds, Nov 30 can be found here

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