Sunday, April 23, 2017

Franklin Residents/Taxpayers, you'll be tested on this

Aside from the budget, this is the single most important document that every Franklin resident and taxpayer should be familiar with. After the only operational override passed in 2007, there was another attempt in 2008 that failed. One of the outcomes of the failure was the establishment of the Long Range Financial Planning Committee. 

The committee began with representatives from the Town Council (3), School Committee (2), and Finance Committee (2). In December 2010, it was reformed as a committee completely made up of 'citizens' - that is residents with no other direct board membership.

Vision The Long Range Finance Committee is a citizen advisory group tasked with helping citizens and Town officials better understand Franklin’s long-term financial outlook and the various courses of action available to secure Franklin’s financial future. 
Mission The Committee will achieve this vision by (i) evaluating and reporting on the Town’s five-year financial projection, (ii) assessing the nature and potential magnitude of the Town’s significant financial risks, particularly those that give rise to a structural deficit, and (iii) recommending steps to close the gap between future expected revenues and expenditures in an effort ultimately to achieve fiscal sustainability.

The Committee produced their final report in June 2012. Since that time, the Town Administrator has been updating the long range financial plan each year.

The current report was just posted to the Town of Franklin webpage and is copied here for your reading pleasure.

The introduction from Town Administrator Jeff Nutting:

"Each year we look into the crystal ball and try to project the long term fiscal health of the community. We look at trends over the last five years, adjust for one time issues or "bumps" in the road and then try to predict the fiscal future. Looking ahead a couple of years is not that difficult while projecting five years ahead is a "best guess' of what may affect local government beyond the "normal revenue and expenses" We do not know today how the economy, Federal and State budgets, changing demographics, growing population, unknown mandates, health care, etc. will affect our fiscal health in the future. 
We do know that: 
• Our population has increased from 29,738 in 2001 to over 34,000 in 2017 and it will continue to increase. Currently there are over 800 potential housing units under construction, in the "pipeline or proposed by developers with more to come. 
• Health care costs continue to be a concern. 
• Our unfunded retiree health insurance obligation is $93,000,000 (2015). 
• Our unfunded pension liability is $41,346,000 (2016). 
• The FY 18 School budgets will use one time revenues to balance the budget and beyond that they will have few reserves left. 
Franklin is in generally good financial shape today but we will continue to struggle to maintain high quality school and municipal services given the fiscal constraints that we operate under.
I believe we can continue a "level service" budget in fiscal year FY 18. The trend suggests that in FY 19 we will need to use school and town reserves to maintain services. 
Starting in FY 20 the forecast strongly suggests we will face service cuts and/or a tax increase. 
While many departments would like to add employees to better serve the citizens the available revenues leave very few options for expanding the work force with recurring revenues. 
In order to have trne fiscal stability there would need to be a great deal of change in Federal and Sate laws and regulations that drive up the cost of doing business. I do not see any political will to make major changes for the foreseeable future. 
We will continue to do are very best on behalf of all the citizens of Franklin to maintain a high quality of life while trying to control costs to the taxpayers."

Long Range Financial Planning Committee Meeting notes for their 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 sessions can be found in the meeting archive

The 5 year financial plan published in 2012

Information provided to candiates for the Town election in Nov 2011

road sign on Pleasant St is rather appropriate for this posting, the financial plan contains many hazards
road sign on Pleasant St is rather appropriate for this posting, the financial plan contains many hazards

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