Thursday, March 14, 2013

Live reporting - Finance Committee - Mar 14, 2013

Present: Goldsmith, Dufur, Quinn, Roche, Dewsnap, Aparo
Absent: Smith, Feldman, Huempfner

Susan Gagner, Jeff Nutting and Jim Dacey (from right to left as you watch the video broadcast)

Action Items (3/14/13)
Request for Funds: Pedestrian Safety Signal - Parmenter School $35,000
Nutting - Traffic study completed, police issuing tickets to help
looking for free cash to install some solar powered units to help slow down the traffic on King St
solar powered, flashing lights showing the vehicle speed

Chief - the signs do work, we see drivers hit their breaks when it shows their speed

Nutting - if we need to do something like this on Lincoln St, we'll have had a year experience

motion to fund as requested, passed 6-0

Request for Funds: Del Carte Recreation Improvements $395,000
Nutting - display of proposed work on the recreation area for DelCarte
playground model, loop trails, boardwalk
photos to be added
The original money was for the repair of the dams, not all of this is needed for the work on the dams, it still needs to be used for capital and this is a good use for it
Will be a premier recreation spot eventually

Motion to approve funding as requested, passed 6-0

Budget Hearing

The short version of the FY 2014 budget for Franklin:

School Dept - 300               C-1

Note the complete set of documents for the School Budget can be found here

Superintendent Maureen Sabolinksi, Business Administrator Miriam Goodman
School Committee Chair Paula Mullen, members Susan Rohrbach and Sean Donahue

Overview by Sabolinski
most of increase driven by contractual agreement
alignment with Common Core, additional legislation for English Language Learner training

Title 1 could be affected by sequestration issue; approx $70,000 in question

Q - how many bilingual students do we have
A - about 100 currently

Q - have you incorporated the 70,000?
A - no, we'll look to do that if it happens

Q - what part of this is funded by transportation and athletics?
A - we have revolving funds for those where we are using some amounts

Q - at the school budget level Parmenter is down and Oak St is up
A - do to staffing changes, the salary follows the personnel

Q - how are you on space?
A - modulars are coming down where necessary, there is a space needs committee looking at the overall plan and we may need to redistrict to shift some of the population among the schools

Nutting - Thayer is also being looked at with a design study

Q - out of district costs?
A - students with disabilities who are sent out of district, we look to service all here but some we can not serve

Q - State aid funds the schools?
A - grant money, school choice and circuit breaker

Q - is that money at risk
A - oh yes - we are projecting receiving about 70% which is what we got this year and we feel fairly comfortable with that

we have been conservative in spending down the revolving accounts per an audit results from a few years ago

Roche -  looking at the professional development, that is a whopper of an unfunded mandate

Sabolinski - implementation of a new tool for July to measure teachers, need to collect a variety of feedback and data from all the stakeholders; a survey to start in Sep to gather feedback on student participation, food service, etc.

Librarians - actually EA's we don't employee librarians
2400 series are at the discretion of the school principals, allocated per pupil on a three tier structure (elementary, middle and high school)

Information Systems - 155   A-30
Tim Raposa, Technology Director for schools and town
there was an increase earlier this year due to an outsourcing item to offset needs

Nutting - you heard the schools say they have a mandate and need software to help

Roche - tech salaries are paid for by the Schools, all else is paid for the by the Town in the arrangement set up several years ago

22 sites all connected via fiber

Inspection - 240                  B-67
Lloyd "Gus" Brown - Building Commissioner
a couple of changes in staffing shown in the budget
looking to get the online permitting in July
the online forms will link to UniPay to enable the payments
pay differential but not a loose or increase of hours

Appeals - 176                     A-39
money to add legal costs for the Zoning Board of appeals which is reimburse to the Town by the applicants

Police - 210                         B-1
Chief Stephen Semerjian, Kevin Ryan
slowly moving towards regional dispatch
hired an architect to design the facility and operation which will be still about 18 months away
we'll turn our dispatch over to the regional unit and pay an allocation but should save overall

If we have only one on duty, it is stressful, if there are two, it can still be busy with 911 and patrols checking in

biggest increase is in training, which requires 32 hours but the state only reimburses 20
everything else was contractually driven via the collective bargaining agreement

unfunded mandate is a recurring theme

daytime is much busier with the schools and businesses in operation
technology has helped to keep up (via the capital funding)

Statistics can be gleaned from the system, don;t have numbers with me now
we have seen an increase in motor vehicle activity in the last six months

Q - scheduled overtime dropping?
A - trying to be as frugal as we can, based upon history

biggest thing both fire and police face is off duty hours due to injury, hard to forecast that
keeping people healthy is good for the bottom line

we could always use more people, yes

Nutting- we peaked at 50 officers in 2000 and haven't been close to that since
a lot goes to the great staff we have, we have to balance what dollars we have

Parking Meters - 293           B-74
repair and replace existing meters
may come back in the fall if the Town Council comes back to do some 'free parking' for the holiday season, it would be good to have some nice covers rather than plastic bags

meter receipts are up through Feb over all of last year
parking tickets are also up, bringing in additional revenue
coins, batteries and stuff get jammed in there, the parking control officer helps to monitor those

met with the downtown folks to look at the parking regulations
need to update the bylaw to give 30 minutes in some spots and 2 hours in others
in the meantime, don't park illegally, actually you can, we'll make some money

DPW - 422                          D-1
Brutus Cantoreggi, DPW Director
Linda Feely, Office Manager
Laurie Ruszala, Water/Sewer Superintendent

Lots of working coming, the downtown side roads, Lincoln St, Daniels St, the DelCarte piece you just approved
Maintain the town vehicles for police, fire and school
the two biggest drivers were Central Motors and fuel

the staff has changed quite a bit, working through some transition
looking to hire a new town engineer (replacing one promoting up)

put our own water lines, water sewer and highway, sculpture parks, taking down houses, etc.
65% of my budget is based upon expenses
we have to deal with the weather, snow wasn't here last year, but is here plenty this year

Salt went down, doesn't affect the budget as we still need to budget the $900K for snow, etc.

personnel coming in to replace others, coming in at a lower step so that savings come in

We have a great team here, we get a lot of work done
Franklin has been a leader in storm water, Brutus in particular is getting recognized for this

Purchasing Director is backlogged, we need to get a new building out to bid so we can take down the old one and move the stuff out of the high school before the new school comes online

We do get complaints about the snow, but in regards to how much we have moved, it is not much
some curbs have been pushed back with the snow to get the roads open
we pushed back 4.5 feet of snow, that is a lot

we pay 40 to replace the mailbox when we knock it down, so don't pay a hundred for it

We had a lot of thankings the last two snow storms, we did have a lot of positives
the 3-6 inch storms we can never do it right, but the big ones are more evident on how well we do

The police are the ones that notify us of the road conditions
we have about 40 something vehicles, and another 60 contractors - when I make that call I am going to spend 35,000 as they have a four hour minimum
it is a constant balance act between public safety and expense
can you drive fast? maybe not
within four hours after the storm, we want to be down to the surface
that is what the residence expect

there used to be some buckets of self service?
DEP regulations restrict that, you can't do that anymore

I don't get called with people being stuck, I do get calls about people going off the road
that usually is from people going off the road

who is supposed to clear the sidewalk?
downtown bylaw requires the businesses to clear in front of their property

we do the sidewalks on school routes
these routes we review with the school department

Streetlights                          D-21
we bought all of our street lights 7-9 years ago, if there is a light out, call the DPW
we lose about 20% per year, been watching to see to switch to LED but they are not cost effective yet
about 1650 street lights

lights are on more in the winter than summer, solar just isn't there yet
80% of our electricity will be coming from the solar farm when it is up and running

MassDOT is actually moving away from LED lights on street signals as they don't heat up and melt the snow

Enterprise Funds                 H-1
the water budget is up, collective bargaining agreement
starting budget for OPEB, debt is going up

we are looking to borrow about 5M in August and over the next few years to pay for all the projects voted on the past few years, with a low interest rate and pay it off with cash, we can come back in a couple of years for another 5M for additional projects

any chemicals we put in are to fight bacteria and provide a better water balance
we have one of the largest groundwater systems
beavers cause lots of problems
we had hits on the incoming side and we needed to notify the users
we had a beaver dam moved near well 6 and the problem has gone away
we have PH control
we use other chemicals for cleaning the treatment plant

the vote on fluoride was 50 years ago
we get complaints from some citizens about it but then we get awards from the DEP for the perfect application of it
it is not a cost issue, it is a policy issue
we used to have green toilets and sinks from the copper in the water
EPA was going to modify the plant to get rid of the copper

assessment of the Charles River Water Control should drop about $500,000
as we put less into the plant we get a lesser assessment
we have very low sewer debt for a community of our size
we were anticipating an increase in the assessment a year from now and the increase should be about half what we thought it was going to be with this factor
we pump a billion gallons of water a year
we have less than 7% of unaccounted for required, means not a lot of leaks
we are replacing old water lines, once Lincoln Street is done, we'll be in better shape

Solid Waste
the big gain we got in year one when recycling went up from a revenue gain and the trash went down
has leveled out now

old business
missing minutes from a meeting in Dec

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