Monday, March 18, 2019

Live reporting: Finance Committee - March 18, 2019

Present: Smith (left early), Grace, Conley, Fleming, Dufour, Moses, Weich, 
Absent:  Dowd, Dewsnap (arrived late)

The agenda document can be found online

The details for the FY 2020 budget being reviewed can be found online

Motion to approve the outstanding minutes, seconded, passed 7-0

Jamie Hellen
FY 2020 a 'level service' budget, same service as fiscal year but much of the increases for personnel/wages or nominal increase

$600,000 road funding cut, not the Chap 90 funds, just the amount mentioned
no personnel cuts on municipal side

Franklin Public Schools not part of tonight's discussion
Charter school number firming but awaiting House budget after the April vacation
still considering cuts or revenue options now and will be more prepared later in April

(Hence only the budget hearing tonight, the four mentioned are currently reduced to 2, this one and one to be scheduled later)

Town budget page and letters, memos to be updated as the process moves along

Jeff Nutting
reminder: back in April 17 put out the 5 year fiscal forecast
FY 2020 was forecast to be service or personnel cuts
surprise that after 12 years for not having this issue, we do now
we are in better position but the operational gap is growing

Q on the fiscal accounting for Charter Schools? is it anywhere?
maybe on the DESE web page, but not seen

Q - the school amounts shown don't seem to be what we saw last week?
the school amounts in the budget draft are not what the School Committee approved for 2 reasons, one they are advocating for it, 2 more importantly the document needs to balance; so if they make changes those can be reflected going forward

Revenues page 1
are proposing to use the remaining $385K from the budget stabilization fund
$1.5M was used last year to balance the FY 2019 budget

Pages 2- through 6
that is the budget voting document, that summarizes the budget

page 48 - Police
negotiated to compress the schedule 4 days on, 2 days off, 8 hours
moving to July 1, 4 on, 4 off, 10 hour schedule
120 hours less in the year
cut pay, or give the time back - hence using the time for training, special events
dispatch leaving, savings from OT, using the money to hire new officers

getting to 52 officers for the first time in many years
includes the SRO split between Tri-County and FHS

no dispatchers onsite
will have someone there except from 2 AM - 6 AM

tuition reimbursement up slightly as education has been improved overall
uniform reimbursements up due to new officers

not one of the first to do so, this is one of the first to add officers
Winchester, North Reading, some on the Cape and Islands
12 hour shift schedules are quite common

Dufour, I appreciate what you have done, this is the first time I have seen the budget go down and increase staff

Page 51 - Fire
Chief McCarragher -retired 2 weeks ago
temp assignment made
bunch of retirements underway, dispatch center move under

Q - it is scary at times to listen to the resources we have available
police and fire have seen an uptick each year for the last 2-3 years

exploring use of a nurse practitioner to see if some of the calls could be triaged here rather than transport to the hospital
25-30 minutes, easily 2 hours at the Hospital run (paperwork and restock) included

most of the time, it will be a dark station
it will rely on the same system that the police will use, a call button to tap to the MEC

regional dispatch
open house March 27 in Norfolk (behind the Eagle Brook Saloon)
will get about 500K in 911 from state for running the MECC

Q - how is Franklin's share?
47% call volume and population, at least for a couple of years, some did not count calls others did; the Board will review after a few years; we are bigger than the other 3 towns combined

Page 74 - building inspector
did merge three departments, that seems to be going well
close to going online for permitting
visited Foxboro to check on their operations, it was eye opening

e-permitting, Town Clerk took lead, a lot of positive feedback
did have some old software programs and need to merge the data before we go online
once we go, it should allow us to save money
we do go through the budget from the bottom to the top to review

Page 76 - animal control
we had regionalized this for years with Bellingham
split with them 50/50

Page 77 - skipping by this for now

Page 78 - Tri-County
2 phase renovation project being looked at
a roof, and then other aspect - working with MSBA to do this
will do a ballot question to gain approval

(Desnap arrived)

Tri-County as the lowest per student pupil cost of any of the vocational schools
enrollment based upon the October #s, straight calculation based upon enrollments

Page 79 - Norfolk aggie
based upon enrollment of Franklin students
made an adjustment last year Fy 2019 based upon enrollment

Page 80 - DPW
DPW budget up about $100K over last year
taking on more fields, downtown work, street work, etc.

broken up section by section, Highway
step increases for wages

Page 83 - snow and ice
what we get the calls on, the cost of doing business
hard to get plow drivers, need to deliver on expectations
to get the roads cleared, it just costs money

page 88 - administration
landfill up $30K for consulting services

department head numbers are percent based upon their work between the departments

about $1M for snow/ice - $940K, did go out 20 times, were going to get 4-8 and ended up with a foot
after the last flake falls, they want black roads
$300K just on salt this year; have reduced the routes overtime
about 5000 tons of salt at about 60/ton
some is more (70 as it has magnesium to allow it go down and get colder)

we have a higher salt content in our drinking water as we all use the aquifer

mailbox damage is an operational procedure which is reimbursed for a wooden post and mailbox, currently at $45; most hit on the main roads, no bylaw
usually less than a $1K

Brutus encourages residents to call DPW, contractors are tracked with GPS systems
it is impossible to go forty with a big truck down Pond St
I have tracked people down or eliminated
200 miles of road, if we hit 200 mailboxes our of 9000, put it into perspective
DPW is rated on plowing snow, not for doing everything else we do

granite as nice as it looks, it is fragile in the cold, they just snap

Page 101 - street lights
finally seeing some of the LED savings from the conversions
NationalGrid is overwhelmed with the requests, being cautious as to when the rates will be switched over

Page 132 - recycling
contractual services for curbside
China has pulled the rug out from recycling, proposal to increase from 208 to 240 this week before the Town Council
can not answer where the recycling market is headed, NY Time and others have doomsday stories recently, not about to abandon recycling yet
reforms are still less than 2005 (300/year)
asking for $100K to balance the budget for this year

Page 136 - sewer
3.645 M Charles River Control district assessment
Garelick Farms increase in usage is partially driving the costs

Page  140 - water enterprise fund
person added to Water also is a plow driver
water treatment plant will come in the debt and interest discussion

do a five year running average on the accounts and re-distribute to maintain accuracy

Page 102 - Board of Health
for succession planning purposes as D McKerny is retiring
still have the smallest BoH staff among communities our size
eliminated the part-timers when the staffs merged

Page 103 - septic inspection
fees offset the cost of the contracted services

Page 105 - Council on Aging
$215K to run the Senior Center, how is it done?
Friends of the Senior Center augments the operations
offset for succession planning for Karen as well who will be retiring
2 social service coordinators
asking for 2 hours increase in the health and services
screening up 80% over last year, only a 2800 increase in the budget

manages the senior work off program, matching skills/talents with the folks
get a write off on the property tax

Page 107 - Veterans services
budget went down
administers about $4M of federal grants for veterans
Chapter 115 benefits
reduced some folks from the rolls due to eligibility requirements
a statutory requirement
a best guess estimate and has been adjusted from time to time during the year due to appropriations as the state does reimburse us

Page 108 - Franklin Library
up a whopping $13,000
able to hit the state requirement (MAR) although the formula is out of date
kudos to Felicia and her staff for all her programs, a lot of new customers using the building and services; no waiver needed this year

printing up slightly due to an improvement in the professional look of the materials distributed

page 110 - Recreation
primarily a fee for service operation
growth in services, i./e pickel ball, new court 
approx 5800 last year, still counting this year (unique, yes!)
about 8000 folks utilizing services, trails etc.
fees cover the costs mostly
new building caused some increases in anticipation now that we are operating with it, we better know where we are

all programming comes out of the one line item, will be meeting with Chris on how to make appropriate adjustments

page 112 - Historical Museum
part time staff member to provide some organization
started about a month ago
masters from Simmons College, did have state grant for a free assessment on how to the museum; proposing to create a new department 

first floor looks extremely organized, the basement is however unorganized
a big project to get it all done

Page 114 - Historical Commission
moved intern expenses 

Page 115 - Memorial Day
flags and flowers

Page 116 - Cultural Council
increase of $7K
folks are excited to apply for and receive the grant funds, it goes a long way
a lot of excitement in the application
money does get matched by the State
Apr 26 - May 5
signature event on the first Saturday
a fund raiser for Random Smile also closing off High St between Main and Union

this money does get reinvested in the Town, if we could have added more we would have
there is a limit on the matching but we're not there yet

(Smith left the meeting)
Page 7 - Town Council

Page 8 - Town Administrator budget
reflects the retirement of Jeff Nutting
reflects the staffing model beginning in July - Chrissy to be appointed as Assistant Administrator
looking for a marketing coordinator, a full time person
staff some of the art and cultural activities
proposing a intern fellowship program, a huge decline in interest in working in town government; hard to compete with other business areas

Jeff will be the first application

marketing line item used to be in the Community planning dept
moving to this area

Q - on how to get a sister city?
we don't have one

Finance Committee

Page 11 - Comptroller
typically underfunded, now bumped up to be more accurate

Page 13 - Board of Assessors
mostly staff wages, software increases
an incredible job keeping Patriot software up to date

Page 15 - Treasure/Collector
streamlined operations
utilization of automation; reduced seasonal, part time folks
Sandy retiring at end of July; new hire replacement already on and training as she goes

selling the Library bond soon, once we see the rate we may make an adjustment
12M water bond for treatment plant possible for Town Council discussion
rating call in April

Page  17 - Town Attorney
commitment to public service and public trust is
labor counsel as contractual services with negotiations this year

Page 19 - Human Services
huge undertaking to transfer from one health services provider to another
mot like to move again this year

Page 21 - Information Technology
$263000 for our operation, it is amazing to see
licensing for the breakdown for the Town
most for Munis

wages for IT comes from the School Budget, operations covered in the Municipal budget
5-7% a year anticipated

disaster recovery was a problem in that it wasn't documented, it is being written and should be completed as scheduled by end of March

shifting from Microsoft to Google still underway, may over time provide Excel licenses for Finance where they are truly needed

Page 23 - Town Clerk
Teresa is now a fully certified Town Clerk

Page 26 - Elections

Page 27 - Zoning Board of Appeals
statutory requirement for posting notices, recouped from the applicants

Page 28 - Planning Dept
growth management, there is no current limit
the attempt to not go overboard with growth
806 housing units permitted 7% increase
another 500 coming at us; 1100 over the next four years
in addition to commercial developments

Master Plan comes from the Planning Dept; along with community involvement
last done in 2013, due again in 2023, open space and housing plans to be updated in near future

Page 30 - Public property
page 33-34 covers each building electrical cost
stable electrical cost over the next several years
just the cost of doing business to keep the buildings open

when we go up 20% on the water rate, his costs go up, etc.
when the sprinklers are on at the high school, we pay for it
there is no metrics or performance management
about 1M for the schools, the rest is the town
$6/foot is really good

one director with town and municipal buildings managed by the single department
don't 15 year ago
lets all have the same kind of motors, standards across the buildings
work order and PM software now operational to build capital plan for when things to be replaced

90% of our power comes from the solar farm at the Abbey
we are constantly trying to reduce our electric and gas
only things not LED are the high school and one of the complex

getting tax revenue and electricity at a lower rate

prior to LED, our electricians spent much of their time replacing ballasts, now they can go other things

as new buildings/renovations come online we don't need much as things are covered or warrantied; but as those buildings get older things will wear out and break

Page 46 - Central Services
postage, price of postage is going up
trying to move to online (email)

water/sewer, excise, property taxes - about 160000 bills sent a year

discussion on paying via the bank vs online directly to the Town, lower fee, better processing

Page 117 - Debt and Interest
page 118  summary of interest
future roofs for schools
police station likely a debt exclusion for improvements
municipal building windows
recycling land swap

page 119 - itemized and when the payoff year is
state revolving fund rate at 2% for water/sewer projects
housing choice community possible in April, could add another .5% to the rate savings

other than library and high school we have no dept, so we can take on more
the next piece would be the Beaver St intercept, and that may be in the neighborhood of a school

Page 121 - employee benefits
still in limbo with health insurance at this time
meeting with Insurance Advisory Council coming
Harvard Pilgrim loses money off us
numbers reflect a better than expected enrollment in the high deductible option
health savings account (HSA) have been a popular item

compensation reserve, in collective bargaining for all unions this year

will likely run over this year on unemployment comp, layoff from schools, not renewed with less than 3 years; not based upon payroll, pay as you go

Norfolk Count retirement assessment, for at least 10 years or so

we are competitive, all employee are willing to work together with us to reach an agreement
really a statement given the national status for health care

last but by no means least
page 131- risk management
budget going down about $25K for training that all are doing
max out training programs possible through the insurance company
healthy and off workers comp; get job done and go home safely

snow blower training done every year, save injuries and credits our insurance program

140 pages, not a lot of fat, it is what it is

April 25th target date for next meeting
need to have done before May 1, and get to the Council for May 22-23

having the Chromebook instead of the big book is better

motion to adjourn

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