Friday, October 23, 2015

Voices of Franklin: Sean Slater on a Tax Override Question

Hello fellow Franklin residents 
My name is Sean Patrick Slater and I am running as a 1st time candidate for the Town Council. There has been a couple of hot topics that have come up recently in the social media forums. While collecting signatures I was asked if I would support an override. Given the informal discussions around this issue you would think it would be a complicated issue. It is not, it is simple. 
There is no such thing as an “unexpected” or “emergency” expense. A tax increase request in the form of an override is an admission to an unbalanced budget. Proper planning eliminates the need to ask for more money due to unscheduled expenses. I believe citizens, including myself, recognize that managing a budget for 33,000 residents is a massive responsibility. I also believe those involved with the budget process start out with nothing but the best intentions. That being said, the size of the budget and the unmet demand for services should not be used as override rhetoric. 
If you hear we need an override to pay for road repairs and/or to help fund a $93M OPEB unfunded obligation, I would follow that up with a question; with a budget of approximately $113M, where specifically were these dollars allocated? Trust then verify. If we are saying $113M is not enough to run this town then I would humbly ask to validate each line item in the town budget that looks questionable. There is a reason overrides have been repeatedly voted down, Franklin residents are intelligent enough to use common sense. 
The other question I was asked was “if the question does surprisingly make the ballot, would the outcome of the vote change how you would conduct business on behalf of the town? Regardless of an override outcome, our priority is always to be as fiscally responsible as necessary in carrying out the will of the people. We do not change our approach or behavior based on a vote. The way we allocate or prioritize may change in respect to budget items. 
However, we, as a Council, should not be using the results of a vote to compromise our commitment to fiscal discipline. Both scenarios will require an open and honest communication among the Council, Town Administrator, finance committee and department heads. A collaborative and common sense approach is the best way to move forward with an issue that is this controversial. 
Chalk it up to my experience in corporate America but in my current job, if I know I am unable to keep the project on budget they will find somebody else who can. If I ask my SVP for more money without any legitimate evidence to validate that request then he would tell me to take some time off after laughing me out of his office. In the private sector this is known as the chicken little defense. The sky is not falling just because we are not receiving more funds, rather the confidence is falling because we are abandoning reason and logic in asking for those funds. 
Thank you for your time. 
Sean P. Slater, PMP

Sean's email address =
Franklin Matters - Voices of Franklin
Franklin Matters - Voices of Franklin

Guidelines for submission to "Voices of Franklin" can be found here

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