Thursday, February 7, 2013

Town Council - 02/06/13

The discussion of the Town Council around the proposal to move the Treasurer/Collector position from elected to appointed continued during this session. If I were to read how the Council would vote, most would not individually vote to approve of the change. They all seem to be in favor putting the proposal before the voters to decide.

The question and charter change would simply call for an appointment by the Town Administrator and ratification (approval or denial) by the Town Council. How the selection process for the candidate is conducted is still not defined. Should it be more like a school principal? or more like the current practice for the other appointed positions; fire chief, police chief, etc.

Letting folks have a say in the process and having a defined process before the vote is something that I think would make the voter's decision an easy one.
  • If the voter feels comfortable with the process to select the most qualified person with a preference for a Franklin resident, then I think they would be more likely to go for it. 
  • If the voters have no idea how the selection is made, the fear, uncertainty and doubt about the quality of selection and lack of participation in the selection will likely doom the vote.

The second major item on the agenda Wednesday evening was the annual auditor's report. It is worthy of note that this is occurring earlier than normal. From my own records reporting on this meeting, except for the forensic audit report to the joint Town Council and School Committee meeting in Jan of 2008, this is the earliest the report has been available. That the report is clean and early is a good indication that the internal processes with Franklin are in a good state of affairs. Are they perfect? No.

As mentioned in the Management Letter, there are some fine tuning possibilities. The formal risk assessment process is one. The separation of duties for the ambulance accounting is another. It is interesting that this separation of duties issue has cropped up and apparently is due to the budget cuts reducing personnel. If you recall, it was also a position reduction in 2005 that lead to the accounting error discovered in 2007 and resulted in the forensic audit. Of note, the best thing to come out of that audit was that the Town finances finally got on the same set of books. Prior to that the School and Town books were separate.

The third major item on the agenda was the final passing of the bylaw changes to the site plan process. You may recall that there had been a great deal of hullabaloo over this when it first came before the Council. More than one Councilor had angry words and cutting comments. A workshop was held to clear the air, help with their understanding, resolve their miss understandings and as a result, last night there was nary a whisper as the roll call voted to approve the measures. Council Chair Vallee voted against one measure and Council Pfeffer voted against one also, the third passed with an 8-0 vote (Roy was absent).

The individual reports from the meeting on Wednesday:

 The full set of documents released with the agenda can be found on the Franklin Town Council webpage

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