Thursday, February 13, 2014

Follow the money

The Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb 12 had several points of interest.

1 - Deviating from protocol, Bob Donovan representing the fire fighters union used the Citizen Comment to talk about the agenda item which proposed to remove fire fighters from civil service positions. The union was surprised by the agenda item as they had not been notified before hand and were already in arbitration with the Town on the current contract. During that negotiation, the discussion was focused on other items in the contract. After making his statement in the allotted time, he also returned to speak during the agenda. The comments and arguments were not convincing and the Town Council voted unanimously to remove the fire fighters from civil service.

This is just a step in the process to do so. The Town is legally obligated to still negotiate with the fire fighters union over the implementation details. This would only affect new fire fighters and with the current forecast, about 75% of the fire fighters would be retiring within the next 5-7 years. This could have an immediate impact if during the negotiations, the newest 4 fire fighters currently hired through a grant are affected. Otherwise, as the fire fighters retire and their replacements get hired, those would be the ones coming in to work form Franklin but not through the civil service system.

Will this ultimately get resolved? Hopefully sooner than later. The fire fighters union does have a history of not resolving contract negotiations on time. They have been the last union to settle and as I recall most have gone the arbitration route to reach an agreement.

(Protocol for the Town Council meetings is that any citizen can speak for up to five minutes on a topic not on the published agenda.)

2 - Jeff Nutting presented the 5 year financial forecast. The previous draft has not changed. The document is reported to be posted to the Town website. When the link is found it will be added here. The previous draft version can be found here

3 - Maria Lucier, President of the Friends of the Franklin Library presented a check for $5,000 to the Library. Her remarks are listed in full here

4 - Sewer extension approval was provided for a 9 unit development off Uncas Av and Ledge St. This apparently had been approved several years ago. The original developer went bankrupt, this agreement now allows the development to proceed.

5 - In the Administrators Report, Jeff Nutting provided several updates:

  • The CIC grant of $20,000 for the GIS map of the four communities covered by the regional dispatch system was acknowledged. 
  • The DPW also received a grant of $100,000 for work on stormwater. 
  • The State DOT did open the bids for the downtown project. Walsh Bros apparently is the low bidder but the contract has not yet been awarded. Stay tuned for further news on that front.
  • There will be a notice with the next sewer bill about not flushing 'swifters'. This is costing the town money as they clog up the sewer pump systems. The Council will see a future item for $100,000 to repair a pumping station.

Franklin, MA - Municipal Building
Franklin, MA - Municipal Building

The individual posts reported live from the meeting can be found here

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