Saturday, March 3, 2012

A New FHS is the Best Choice

Dear Franklin Friend,
One question you may hear from residents considering whether to vote YES for the new FHS on March 27 is why building a new model school is a better choice than renovation.
It's important to remember that the Building Committee did look closely at two renovation options and discussed them with staff from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. After weighing all the options and after inspecting the current facility, the MSBA leadership and staff invited Franklin to participate in the model school program.
Here are four key reasons why:
·        A renovation would require substantial demolition. Many of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are buried inside the concrete slab foundation or masonry cinder block walls. A renovation project would have been more feasible and less costly if the existing FHS were built on a steel frame. A "gut renovation" is necessary to update these systems, bring the school into compliance with ADA requirements, and improve student navigation throughout the facility. Renovation would NOT have allowed for a new auditorium or improved educational space to meet 21st century academic standards.

·        Renovations often result in cost overruns due to unknown conditions revealed during demolition and construction.  With the key systems hidden in concrete and cinder block walls, unforeseen issues leading to unanticipated expenses would be highly likely in a renovation. New construction eliminates costly surprises.

·        Renovation would cause massive disruption to classes. During a renovation, students and teachers would attempt to learn in an active construction zone, including chaotic disruptions in routines, inaccessibility to certain areas, and revised routes through temporary structures.  Parts of the facility would close for significant periods of time. New construction will have no negative impact on learning.

·        Renovation would take a minimum of 3½ years while new construction will take only 2 years. With groundbreaking of the new FHS planned for fall of 2012, the facility will open in the fall of 2014. The current freshman class would complete their senior year in the new school.

The renovation options carried an estimated taxpayer cost of between $38 and $43 million -- with a much longer completion timetable, guaranteed classroom disruptions, and the risk of unforeseen construction challenges leading to unexpected charges. And, at the end of the renovation process, Franklin would not have anything resembling a 21st century facility — which we can now have for $47 million.
If the debt exclusion fails on March 27, we will lose the chance to build a brand new, fully furnished and equipped high school with a state reimbursement rate of 59.52%. Franklin would need to go back to the drawing board while taxpayers paid 100 percent of the cost of any work needed at the current building. There is no guarantee that the state will provide the same level financial support for a new school or a renovation. You can read the complete MSBA policy on failed debt exclusion votes here.
Franklin High has served our students, teachers and the community well for 40 years. In fact, the MSBA gave Franklin a higher reimbursement rate because of town's facility maintenance program. But the building is now suffering from four decades of heavy use, outdated systems and antiquated educational spaces and furnishings. There is a real need for a new facility and this is the right time to take advantage of a generous state reimbursement, and low borrowing and construction costs.
Seeing is believing. At 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, residents can take guided tours of the current Franklin High School. Then, at 7 p.m., you can hear firsthand from the experts and have your questions answered when the architect and the Building Committee hold a town-wide meeting on the project. Please make plans to attend this important event!
For more information on the March 27 vote, please our website at and "Like" and visit our Facebook page often for updates:

Please share this email with your friends, neighbors and social networks so that everyone understands the rationale for supporting the construction of a new FHS. Please email us at with any questions.
Voting YES is important. No one should take the outcome of the March 27 vote for granted.
Thank you!
Citizens for a New Franklin High School
Vote Yes for FHS on March 27! A Real Need. The Right Time.

Franklin High School Tours and Info Session Set for March 8

The Franklin School Building Committee will be hosting an information session on the proposed new Franklin High School and providing tours of the current high school on Thursday, March 8.

Starting at 6 p.m. tours of the current facility will be offered by members of the Franklin School Committee and others. This will serve as a great opportunity for Franklin residents to see firsthand the issues with the current building and provide a chance to ask School Committee members questions about the educational benefits of the new building.

At 7 p.m. in the Franklin High School lecture hall, the School Building Committee and architect will provide the latest update on the project and answer any questions that Franklin citizens may have. Among those scheduled to present are School Building Committee chairman Tom Mercer and Ai3 architect Jim Jordan.

"I do hope citizens take this opportunity to tour the existing FHS and see exactly why we need a new facility and hear the Architect's unveil a presentation of the design of our new facility," said Mercer.

School Committee chairwoman Paula Mullen, Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski, Franklin High School Principal Peter Light, and Owner Project Manager (OPM) Sean Fennell will also be available to answer questions. Other school and town officials will also be in attendance.

The debt exclusion to pay for the new high school is set for Tuesday, March 27 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Franklin High School Field House.  

March 8 Schedule:
6PM – High School Tours
7PM – New High School Presentation in the Franklin High School Lecture Hall

About the new Franklin High School Project:
Franklin High School was placed on Warning Status for Accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) in 2005 for issues including lack of handicap accessibility in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and outdated science labs. The School Building Committee was created to find the best solution to address the problems.

Kaestle Boos Associates was commissioned to do a study on the school finding several issues that needed to be addressed. That report from 2006 is available here:

After nearly six years of the School Building Committee exploring various renovation and new school options to rectify the issues with the current school, Franklin was invited into the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)'s Model School Program. Both the School Building Committee and MSBA agreed the Model School Program was the best path forward for the town.

The MSBA's Model School Program gives towns the option to choose between four different model schools that have been previously designed and built, saving costs on design and reducing issues during the construction process. The School Building Committee decided upon Whitman-Hanson model.

The MSBA has agreed to fund 59.52% of the project, meaning the taxpayers of Franklin would fund $47 million of the $104 million dollar school and the debt exclusion is approved by the voters on March 27.

In the News: unclaimed property, trivia bee

Treasury to release new unclaimed property list

Friday, March 2, 2012

In the News - rollover, "Boys Next Door", Art Assoc

Franklin man hurt in rollover in Ashland

Chamber Names ATHENA Recipient: Paula Rooney

The United Regional Chamber of Commerce has named Dean College President Paula M. Rooney, Ed.D., as its 2012 ATHENA Award recipient. The International ATHENA Award is presented annually to individuals who have achieved a high degree of professional excellence, have assisted women to develop their full potential by opening up leadership opportunities, and whose body of work has made a national or international impact.

Dr. Rooney, who has more than 35 years of administrative experience in higher education, has served as the president of Dean College since 1995. During her tenure at Dean College, Dr. Rooney has transformed Dean from a two-year college to a four-year college "through the development of new baccalaureate degree programs and strategic increases to enrollment, retention, and endowment," said Jack McCarthy of Bristol County Savings Bank who nominated Dr. Rooney for the ATHENA Award.

To assist women in developing their full leadership potential, Dr. Rooney has mentored and coached several women seeking a leadership position as a college president. Three of Dr. Rooney's seven-member senior management team members, all of whom she has promoted to their current positions, are women. She has also served as a panelist of several forums advancing women's leadership.

"I have known Dr. Rooney for 26 years as a mentor, colleague, and friend," said Linda M. Ragosta, Ed.D., Dean College vice president of academic affairs and planning. "During a 35-year career including 17 years as president of Dean College, Paula has demonstrated continuous, systematic support for women administrators and faculty in all aspects of leadership advancement in higher education at the institutions in which she has worked and far beyond. Paula has always been most generous with her time and always makes herself available to those who seek her out for guidance, support and direction."

Dr. Rooney is involved in many professional associations and boards. Some of the boards on which she currently serves are: Providence Country Day School Board of Trustees, Business Roundtable: The Springfield Project, 495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership, New England Council, Hockomock Area YMCA Board of Incorporators, and The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts.

Dr. Rooney will be honored at The United Regional Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Award Luncheon on Wednesday, March 21 at Highland Country Club, 104 Mechanic St., Attleboro. The luncheon, which is held in conjunction with the Women in Business Expo, costs $30 per person and begins at 11 a.m. Contact The United Regional Chamber of Commerce at 508-222-0801, 508-528-2800, or 508-695-6011 to reserve a seat. The ATHENA Award Luncheon is generously sponsored by HaborOne Credit Union.
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Retirement party for Franklin police chief

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via The Milford Daily News News RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 3/1/12

The retirement celebration for former Police Chief Stephen Williams has been announced and tickets are available for a limited time.

Things you can do from here:

Of interest to folks considering solar or wind systems

Solar And Wind Generate Taxing Questions

As you read the news, you see more and more articles and announcements surrounding the promotion, development and installation of solar and wind power technology. Across the Commonwealth, cities and towns are increasingly receiving proposals ranging from home owners interested in supporting clean energy through self-sustainability to companies offering to power hospitals, schools and municipal buildings in exchange for local incentive agreements. Less than two weeks ago, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced steps toward a final settlement agreement regarding NSTAR's proposed merger with Connecticut-based Northeast Utilities (NU) that would promote an increase in the purchase of clean energy as a condition.

As these technologies continue to advance and become more widespread, cities and towns find themselves wading into policy and legal interpretations that require a level of expertise unforeseen when the original laws were put into place over 20 years ago.
At the Division of Local Services (DLS), we're in the unique position of seeing these developments and goals presented on a broad scale and then implemented at the local level. We field questions on the issue on a regular basis. As a result, in this edition we're providing an overview of solar and wind power, the statutes that affect its taxation and some guidance on how it can be assessed.

I'm also pleased to announce that DLS will host two workshops for local officials in early June that will serve as a forum on the issue. As details become finalized, please feel free to check City and Town for updates or go to our website at We hope you find this information helpful and that you'll consider attending a workshop.
Robert G. Nunes
Deputy Commissioner & Director of Municipal Affairs
Here Comes The Sun (And Wind Power)

Brenda Cameron, Bureau of Local Assessment
Under M.G.L. c. 59, § 5, clause 45, qualifying solar or wind powered energy systems or heating devices are exempt from local taxation for a 20 year term. However, not all systems or devices qualify.

Energy from the sun can be converted to electricity in two ways: (1) Photovoltaic or solar cells that change sunlight directly into electricity or (2) solar thermal electric power plants that generate electricity by converting solar energy to heat a fluid that produces steam used to power a generator. Sunlight is not a constant. It varies depending on location, time of day, time of year and weather conditions. Therefore, a large surface area, such as defunct landfills, is necessary in order to collect the sun's rays at a rate able to produce ample amounts of energy.

Wind power is also considered a form of solar energy. Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun. Wind power is the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity by converting the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. A generator then converts the mechanical power into electricity.

Power Used on Site
In order for the wind or solar system or device to be exempt from local taxation, it must be used "as a primary or auxiliary power system for the purpose of heating or otherwise supplying the energy needs of property taxable under this chapter." In our opinion, this means the exemption applies only to those systems or devices being used as the primary or backup heating or power system for the taxable real estate on which they are installed (or associated, e.g., a contiguous parcel owned and used by the same owner together with the other parcel). It is for property owners who install systems or devices for use on their own properties, not for solar or wind facilities or farms constructed and operated for purposes of generating energy for sale to the grid. Once the local board of assessors determines that the system or device qualifies for the exemption, it is exempt for 20 years. The exemption does not extend to the land and any other real or personal property. A single abatement application is sufficient to apply for the exemption for its duration. See IGR 84-209, Property Tax Exemption for Solar and Wind Powered Systems or Devices

Power Sold to the Grid
For solar or wind facilities built to generate electricity for sale to the grid, there are two tax agreements allowed by state law that may apply. Both agreements require approval by the municipality's legislative body. The first, a tax increment financing (TIF) exemption agreement, generally requires the facility to be located within an Economic Opportunity or Economic Target areas as designated by the Economic Advisory Coordinating Council. TIF agreements may reduce the taxes of a new generating facility for up to 20 years in exchange for providing specific job creation and economic benefits. M.G.L. c. 23A, § 3E; c. 40, § 59; c. 59, § 5, Clause 51. The second is a payment in lieu of tax agreement (PILOT) for facilities owned by an electric generation or wholesale generation company under M.G.L. c. 59, § 38H(b). This agreement provides tax stability for the company and municipality rather than a complete or substantial exemption from taxation. M.G.L. c. 164, § 1 provides a definition of electric generation and wholesale generation companies. 
Communities should consult with their municipal counsels who can assist with language to safeguard the community in the event the company abandons or sells the facility before the end of the agreement. Many of these agreements offer the companies substantial tax benefits in the early years and equalize them later in the agreement. If so, the community may want to provide for recovery of taxes deferred to later years. A power plant PILOT agreement should also address adjustments in the annual payment for any property additions, replacements or deletions and since no tax lien exists to secure the payments, a contractual lien or other means to ensure collection if payment is not made. Any contractual lien will not supersede pre-existing liens such as mortgages.

Assessment as Real or Personal Property
Absent a permitted tax agreement, solar or wind facilities are valued at fair cash value as of January 1, but are they assessed as real or personal property?
For property tax purposes, solar array panels, wind turbines and associated machinery and equipment may be assessed as part of the real estate if they are intended to remain on the site for their entire useful lives, are designed specifically for the parcel, or might cause damage to the land or equipment if removed. However, if they are easily removable or intended to be removed and replaced periodically while located at the site, they could be separately assessed as personal property. A property owner who believes the property is personal property must report it to the assessors on a Form of List by each March, but the assessor decides whether the assets are real estate or personal property based on the degree of attachment. See Boston Edison Co. v. Board of Assessors of Boston, 402 Mass. 1 (1988)(Taxable machinery of a utility used in the manufacture of electricity, and significantly attached to a parcel of real estate, but traditionally assessed as personal property, may be assessed as either real or personal property.)
If the assets are determined to be personal property, the assessment is made to the owner of the panels and associated machinery,  not the land owner, if different. Typically a replacement cost new less depreciation methodology should be developed to value the assets. Proper depreciation would require an age/life analysis and must be applied uniformly.
If the assessors determine panels, associated machinery or assets of the facility are part of the real estate, their valuation would be included in the real estate assessment to the owner of the land. The assessors would have to support the value with appraisal documentation, which may include a valuation from their in-house appraisal system and not necessarily a fee appraisal. Two approaches to value should be performed by the assessors in accordance with DOR guidelines. 

March Municipal Calendar


March 1: DOR/MDM-TAB Notification of Cherry Sheet Estimates for the Following Year (pending action taken by the Legislature)

The Cherry Sheet is an estimate of: 1) Receipts — local reimbursement and assistance programs as authorized by law and appropriated by the General Court; and 2) Assessments — state and county assessments and charges to local governments. All amounts listed on the Cherry Sheet are estimates. Actual receipts and charges are determined based on detailed formulas or guidelines for each program. Cherry Sheets are posted on the DLS website and updated at each juncture of the state budget process.
March 1: Personal Property Owner Submit Form of List
This is a listing of all personal property filed by the owner with the Assessors each year for the purpose of determining taxes in the next fiscal year.
March 1: Non-Profit Organization Final Filing Date for 3-ABC Forms
These must be filed on or before March 1 (this deadline may be extended by the Assessors). In no event may the extension granted be later than 30 days after the tax bill is mailed.
March 1: DOR/BLA Filing Deadline for Telecommunications Forms of List
March 31: State Treasurer Notification of Quarterly Local Aid Payment on or Before March 31
City & Town is published by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue's Division of Local Services (DLS) and is designed to address matters of interest to local officials.
Dan Bertrand, Editor
Marilyn Browne, Editor Emeritus

Editorial Board: Robert Nunes, Robert Bliss, Zack Blake, and Amy Handfield
To obtain information or publications, contact the Division of Local Services via:
Follow DOR on Twitter at or the DOR Blog at

Stephen Sherlock

Community Information Director (volunteer) for

Marr: Franklin needs a new high school

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin Opinions RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 3/1/12

When my family first moved here in 2006, the one thing that was echoed by realtors and potential neighbors was how wonderful our school system was. My own research showed that the MCAS scores were great. The town actually had an article in Family Circle as one of the five best towns to raise a family, which I happily cut out and mailed to family members.

Things you can do from here:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Franklin Schools: 1 hour delay

The call chain is coming around this morning announcing a 1 hour delay in the start of school today.

Franklin students win mock trial competition against Milford

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via The Milford Daily News News RSS by Alison McCall/Daily News staff on 2/29/12

Members of Franklin High School's mock trial team celebrated their regional championship in the Massachusetts Bar Association competition after yesterday's win over Milford.

Things you can do from here:

Downtown Partnership: Meeting Cancelled

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Franklin Downtown Partnership by (Franklin Downtown Partnership) on 2/29/12

Due to inclement weather, the General Meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 1, has been cancelled.

Things you can do from here:

New K-3 class at Franklin Art Center starts Saturday

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 2/29/12

Starting March 3, from 9-10:15 a.m., the Franklin Art Center will offer Saturday morning art classes for students in grades K-3.

Things you can do from here:

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Parking Ban Activated

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From: "Franklin Police News and Announcements" <>
Date: Feb 29, 2012 8:52 AM
Subject: Parking Ban Activated
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Winter Weather Advisory

807 AM EST WED FEB 29 2012


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New Franklin High School: Educational Design Features

The School Building Committee delivered this presentation at the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012.

New Franklin High School: Educational Design Features - Revised

Note: this is an update version of the presentation!

As soon as the video of the meeting is available, it will be linked to here.

"a great opportunity for the students"

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful plan,” member Pamela McIntyre said. “I completely support this. This is something that absolutely needs to happen.” 
School Building Committee Chairman and Town Councilor Thomas Mercer, high school Principal Peter Light and Ai3 architect Jim Jordan gave a presentation on the project last night, the board’s first since the Massachusetts School Building Authority approved the new school in January. 
They explained many of the points already aired to other committees in town. 
The proposed school is expected to cost $104.6 million, but substantial reimbursement from the state means the town would pay about $47 million.

Read more:

Respectfully, "many of the points already aired to other committees in town" may indeed be accurate for those who have heard about this project. The major financial points, date for the vote, etc. those have not changed. In the presentations that I have been able to attend, there are many details shown here for the first time. I heartily recommend viewing the presentation itself. The layout of the building, the slide details shown bring out some features not previously revealed. The walking distance between classes, the cluster arrangement, the layout of the new building super-imposed over the layout of the existing... All impressive points!

Attention: Franklin Investment-type Property Owners

Real Estate Income & Expense Filing Deadline Income & Expense data requests were mailed January 19, 2012 for all parcels (including utility easements, however excepting totally vacant land) classified Commercial, Industrial, Apartment (4 or more units) and Mixed Use. These Income & Expense (I & E) Forms about the operation of the Real Estate are due to file in the Office of the Board of Assessors on or before March 19, 2012. 
Failure of an owner or lessee of real property to comply with such request within 60 days after it has been made by the Board of Assessors shall be automatic grounds for dismissal of a filing at the Appellate Tax Board. 
If an owner or lessee of Class one, residential (e.g. apartment or mixed use) property fails to submit the information within the time and in the form prescribed, the owner shall be assessed an additional penalty for the next ensuing tax year in the amount of $50. 
If an owner or lessee of Class three, commercial or Class four, industrial property fails to submit the information within the time and in the form prescribed, the owner or lessee shall be assessed an additional penalty for the next ensuing tax year in the amount of $250. 
If you did not receive an Income & Expense Form, please request one in writing by mail or in person at our office.

 Board of Assessors information

The Governor's Budget and Health Care in Massachusetts

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The Governor's Budget Proposal for MassHealth 
This budget brief describes the proposals in the Governor's FY13 budget which affect MassHealth (Medicaid) and other health care programs.
The Governor's initiatives are designed to:
  • Promote long-term changes in the health care delivery system
  • Help state health programs implement federal health reform requirements  
  • Improve the administrative capacity of the MassHealth program
In addition, the report describes plans to reduce projected spending by $544.4 million--as well as an effort to tap enhanced federal matching funds worth $45 million in new federal revenues. 
This is the first in a series of reports that will be published by the Massachusetts Medicaid Policy Institute (MMPI) and produced by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center in partnership with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

MassBudget provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies--with particular attention to the effects on low- and moderate-income people.

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