Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Human Resources

I just finished my first year as Human Resources Director for the Town of Franklin and it was a very busy, but rewarding year. It has been a wonderful experience so far and I look forward to serving as your HR Director for many years to come!

Fiscal Year 2018 was a big transition year for the Town. We had turnover in three key managerial roles, the Human Resources Director, Comptroller, and Treasurer/Collector. Stephanie Lutz, Susan Gagner, and Jim Dacey had almost 50 years of combined service and institutional knowledge with the Town. Finance Director Chris Sandini, Treasurer/Collector Kerri Bertone, and I have tough shoes to fill, but are catching on quickly and operations have continued without a hitch. Jeff Nutting and Jamie Hellen should be commended for their hard work in making sure that there was a smooth transition in leadership.

In addition to these three key managers, several other employees chose to retire or pursue other opportunities this year. We had a very busy year backfilling positions and even adding a few new positions. There were 16 new full time employees including 4 Police Officers, 3 Firefighters, 6 DPW Laborers, the Finance Director, and 2 Civilians at the Police Department. We also hired 3 new part-time Library Assistants at the Franklin Public Library, several part-time and substitute Custodians for the Facilities Department, part-time dispatchers for Police and Fire, part-time administrative positions and over 40 Referees, Camp/Program Counselors, Gate Guards, and Program Coordinators at the Recreation Department. In addition to local students working summer jobs in the Recreation Department, the Town also hired about 30 Franklin students to work in the Department of Public Works and Facilities Department. These students were instrumental in helping landscape our community and get the schools ready for the 2018-2019 school year.

In Fiscal Year 2018, we continued to struggle with the rising cost of healthcare. Other than wages and salaries, the health insurance budget represents one of the largest single costs to the Town. The Town offers health insurance to all active employees working more than 20 hours per week as well as retirees and their families. We currently have approximately 1200 employees and retirees from both the Town and Schools on our plan. Even a small increase in health insurance premiums can have a huge impact on the total budget.

When we started reviewing health insurance for FY19, we were faced with a potential increase of 10.9% on the HMO plan. Town and School management came together with the Insurance Advisory Committee to try to come up with creative solutions to keep costs down, for both employees and the Town. We enlisted our benefits broker, NFP Inc, to prepare a RFP and went out to bid on health insurance. The Insurance Advisory Committee ultimately decided to save costs in several different ways. We went through the arduous process of switching Health Insurance companies from Tufts Health Plan to Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and added a small prescription deductible to our plans.

We also, for the first time, offered employees the option to enroll in a Qualified High Deductible Health Plan coupled with a Health Savings Account. A High Deductible Health Plan offers a lower monthly premium, but the employee may have a higher out of pocket cost, since the deductible would increase from $400 to $1500 for an individual and from $1000 to $3000 for a family. Since the decrease in monthly premiums would save the Town a significant amount of money, we were able to share the savings with the employees by depositing money into the employee’s Health Savings Account ($750 for employees on an individual plan and $1500 for those on a family plan). This money could then be used to pay for any health related expenses and reduce out of pocket costs. Even with this arrangement, the cost to the Town for the High Deductible plan was still lower than the standard HMO plan.

Through the changes listed above, our overall Health and Life Insurance budget for the Town increased by just 5.42%, which is slightly lower than last year and below the national average.

The Town continues to offer a very competitive benefits package, which, in addition to health insurance, offers employees the option to sign up for Life insurance, Dental insurance, Flexible Spending Accounts and/or Health Savings Accounts, Short and Long Term Disability, and two different vendors for deferred compensation retirement plans. In FY19, we plan to review all the benefit plans to make sure that we stay competitive and offer our employees robust, cost-effective benefits.

This year, we worked with MIIA (the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association) to offer Harassment Training to all our employees. A professional trainer came in and offered 12 different classroom sessions. The training focused on the federal and state laws around discrimination and harassment and our responsibilities as employees in preventing harassment and responding appropriately if it does happen. Employees generally had positive feedback about the training and felt that they learned a great deal.

2018 was a very demanding, but fulfilling year. I, along with Sandy Golebiewski, look forward to another great year of serving our employees and our retirees in 2019.

Respectfully submitted,

Karen Bratt
Human Resources Director

You can read the full Annual Report for 2018 online

The archive of prior year annual reports

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Human Resources
Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Human Resources

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