Monday, April 7, 2014

Franklin, MA: FY 2014 Capital Plan - draft

As reported during the Finance Committee meeting last week, the draft capital plan was reviewed. My notes can be found here:

The official memo from Town Administrator Jeff Nutting is shown here. It walks through the highlights of what is proposed to fund for the capital plan. There are two speadsheets at the back that work through the numbers on what is proposed as well as the source of funds.

While the Finance Committee has approved the plan, the numbers won't be final until the snow/ice expense totals are complete. The winter storms have caused an overspending in the snow/ice budget so some of the 'free cash' will cover that shortfall. The remaining amount of 'free cash' will then be split among the proposed items.

You may recall that Franklin using their 'free cash' as their source of funds for the capital plan. You should recall that the 'free cash' is not really cash, nor is it 'free'. It is an accounting function for an annual budget. At the beginning of the year, amounts are budgeted for revenue and expenses.

When revenues exceed what is forecasted (which is a good thing and something Franklin does regularly) that becomes an amount that would contribute to 'free cash'.
When one or more departments spend less than their budget during that annual budget period, that amount also contributes to 'free cash'.

The state DOR validates the amount of 'free cash' for each community and releases the final number by about Nov/Dec. This is money that the community can use for one-time expenses and thereby Franklin uses for their capital budget.

Why not use 'free cash' for something else? 
The money is available this year but there is no guarantee of it recurring. If the amount was added to a departments regular budget, then that amount would be committed to and need to be funded which would raise a priority question or potentially force a raise in property taxes.

Links for additional info on 'free cash' from the website
  • DOR certification

  • Data bank reports on 'free cash'

Capital Plan draft for FY 2014

One of the more interesting items in the proposal is that of a 'sprinkler park' to be added to Fletcher Field. Specifically where remains to be determined. The $150,000 amount is estimated to be 75% reimbursed by the state with a grant. The money does need to be spent up front however.

What would the sprinkler park look like?
The photo below is a sample of what it could look like.

possible sprinkler park for Fletcher Field
possible sprinkler park for Fletcher Field

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