Annual Fiscal Audit Report
The annual fiscal audit report was presented by the audit firm Melanson and Heath. There were no material weaknesses or deficiencies found. This is always a good thing. The operational processes are good, the town's financial position is sound. We have approx. 10% reserved in unallocated funds. The auditors like to see that and the bond rating companies do as well. The better position we have in this regard, the better rate we can get when we do go to borrow.
This is very similar to an individual's finances and your credit rating. If you have good income, good savings, a reasonable outstanding debt, then you are eligible for additional funds with a minimal interest rate. If you have terrible credit rating, your interest rates if you can get a loan would be high.
Note worthy are the recommendations for the Town of Franklin to implement a more formal risk assessment process. This has been mentioned in the past couple of years and the town is making progress in this arena. Two other items were on the statement #75 for the OPEB accounting changes coming and a recommendation to reauthorize the OPEB Trust under new legislation that is now available.
The OPEB accounting changes have been discussed the past couple of years which is why Franklin has been making moves to improve their position. They have been reserving funds in a trust fund. The trust fund itself was established and now that the State has made some beneficial changes to the trust funding process, Franklin should make the adjustment. We should expect to see this scheduled for a future Finance Committee and then Town Council meeting.
Also noteworthy from the discussion around this agenda item was the recognition that with the retirement of the Treasurer/Collector and the Town Comptroller, then there would be a process to look for a potential new Audit firm to come in and audit after the new personnel are operating (replacing Dacey and Gagner).
|Melanson Heath auditors with Comptroller Susan Gagner (far left)|
and Treasure/Collector Jim Dacey (far right)
There were two public hearings, one on a manager change at the British Beer Company restaurant and one to discuss the purchase via right of first refusal of some land along Washington St.
The manager change was a normal discussion around TIPS training and awareness of underage alcohol sales.
The land along Washington would joined some other plots already owned by Franklin (see green colored plots in maps photo) to reserve the space for future recreational potential and remove it from residential potential. The Council voted later in the meeting to make the purchase. Some of the Councilors appear unaware of the first refusal process and even after it getting explained seemed doubtful of the integrity of the offer.
|the plot authorized for purchase can be found in the black outline in the bottom left corner of this photo|
Water ban bylawThe water ban bylaw came back in a revised form (removing private wells). The measure was originally meant to clean up the language for better enforcement. Due to push back from the private well owners, that restriction was removed from consideration. What remains is still the 'minor' matter of requiring the private well owners who use the water for irrigation (i.e. water their lawns) to post a sign. Some councilors object to that as 'heavy handed".
The measure was moved to second reading by a 9-0 vote so while they spoke out against it, they did not vote against. The second reading will come up at a future Town Council meeting (likely Apr 12).
The actions taken summary provided by the Town of Franklin can be viewed in this PDF file:
View the meeting video any time at this link:
My notes captured live during the meeting can be found here: