Friday, December 5, 2014

Good steps on funding and voting for the Chair doesn't really matter

The Town Council meeting on Wednesday was dominated by the presentation on the Franklin TV cable operations. The new studio is almost complete and they are broadcasting from the facility now. The residents of Franklin have already seen an increase in locally produced programs and can expect to see more. The presentation document can be found here

Tucked away in the 'normal' business was the approval of a new manager for the liquor license at Joe's American Bar and Grill on King St.  Of more importance were a couple of resolutions that will positively affect the local fees and taxes Franklin residents pay.

Franklin TV studio on Hutchenson St
Franklin TV studio on Hutchenson St

The first is that there is a restructuring of the solid waste disposal contract which includes a reduction in the tipping fees. This reduction which is in keeping with current market conditions is expected to allow the trash rates not to increase for a couple of years. The tipping fee is the amount the town is required to pay to dump the trash picked up.

The second is the creation of a trust fund to help manage the funds being put aside to cover the OPEB liability. OPEB is Other Post Employment Benefits and the current outstanding unfunded liability for Franklin is estimated to be about $89 million. 

We are not alone in this issue. There are perhaps one or two communities across the state that have fully funded their liability, Earlier this year, we shared here what Needham is doing to help fund their liability.  The article gets into more details and is a good background of the problem and potential solution.

The creation of the trust will allow for the investment of the fund being put aside to bring a greater return which will then help us more. We'll see this on a future agenda as there will be a call for interest in two citizens to be named to the trust fund. We'll also see the transaction to move the money from the current fund stabilization account to the trust fund.

One minor matter that occurred with the approval of the prior meeting minutes is the the Council has not bothered to correct the problem of not officially voting for its chairperson. As reported from the Nov 19th meeting, the Council accepted nominations for the Chair and voted to close the nominations. It got interrupted by another nomination and when putting that aside, turned to accept nominations for the Vice Chair. It never actually voted on the Chair position nomination itself. 

I had listened to my recording to confirm this. This was also confirmed by the minutes of the meeting that Council approved without amendment on Wednesday. So while some folks think the Council Chair matters, apparently getting officially voted in for it, doesn't matter.

The full set of notes recorded during the meeting can be found here:

From the minutes of the Nov 19th meeting:

ELECTION OF OFFICERS: MOTION by Pfeffer to nominate Bob Vallee to serve as Chairman of the Council. SECOND by Kelly. Close nominations. Vote Unanimous. MOTION by Bissanti to nominate Matt Kelly to serve as Vice Chairman of the Council. Close nominations. Vote for Vice Chair. Unanimous. MOTION by Padula to nominate Judy Pond Pfeffer to serve as Clerk of the Town Council. SECOND By Kelly all those who seek to close the nomination say Aye. AYE – Unanimous. MOTION to approve Judy Pfeffer as Clerk. Unanimous
The should be two votes on each nomination. One close the nominations and then one on the nomination itself. There are two recorded for the Vice Chair and Clerk, only one for the Chair.

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