Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Live reporting: FY 2020 Budget Fiscal Forecast

FY 2020 Budget Fiscal Forecast
Town would be soon facing a structural budget deficit, and now we are facing the facts, a multi-year problem facing us

we are soon facing and need to have a dialog with the community on our future. The Town Administrator's memo is available on the Town web page, and copies here tonight

increased demands at all levels, fixed costs that all businesses face
pension burden for next 10-12 years but until then a problem
we don't control our own destiny, increased demand and increased cost
charter school also affects us this year as the funding formula is adjusted and as they increase, we see a decrease in compensation
98 Franklin students chosen in the charter school lottery
state aid expected to decline about a million dollars
State has not faced the issue of fairness in the formula

State aid was cut by 3.5 million after we passed the override in 2007, and that amount has not ever recovered

we are not the only community looking for more educational aid

we are about $2M short for a level service budget
for FY 2021 it will be worse, if you want an ambulance and police, you need to provide some funding, you see some effects and it could only get worse
it will be at least double ($4M in FY 2021)

do you like the services? do you want to protect the services you have?

We can scrap by on the Town side with some road funding
FY 2021 is really where the challenge will be

Senior Center is running on a budget of $200K
The Library is seeing increased demand for services in the new building and that needs funding

No one calls to say leave my road a little covered with snow, and they shouldn't
where do they want our departments to be
record breaking call volume each year for Police/Fire

snow plow drivers are an issue in meeting and hiring what we need as costs are rising. We have looked at economies of scale and no one has done more than we have

overall we are in a good economic climate, maybe not every family sees it, and that is understood

Dr Ahern, recaps the budget development this year, and over the past several years - programs built in-house to avoid out of district tuition, also have used revolving fund and they are not available this time around

enrollment is has been going down, but that is not the only factor of demand. Reduced lunches have increased over the past years; mental health concerns that are arriving and going untreated that we need to deal with

the school day is the school day and more pressures are creating problems as seen with the comments on recess mentioned earlier

all a midst a world that is rapidly changing with technology
need to focus on the whole child, their Social emotional health and well being

schools are being seen as broader than schools also as social services delivery
supporting 88 students with weekend backpack meals in coordination with Franklin Food Pantry

highly competitive complex, i.e. families do have choices with private schools and charter school. We need to remain competitive

School Committee has been advocating at the State House

shifted to fee for service, athletic fees, transportation fees, etc.

it pains me to say that we would need to have a discussion to review budget cuts when what we have brought forward is insufficient to begin with

Dr Bergen, School Committee Chair; Denise Schultz, Vice Chair School Committee

being as transparent as possible as there is no money to 'find'
to truly understand the demands that are being forced upon the schools
civics curriculum is new, training for it, implementing it will be a challenge
we are part of the community, it isn't schools vs police or fire
what do we want to do, do we want to loose something? or do we want to work together to solve this

Denise - this is the 4th budget I have worked on in my time, we have been working through the requirements, if we make cuts for this budget where it is not where it needs to be, it hurts so much, I feel as I have failed as a school committee member

Nutting - audit update next meeting, fine finance program, risk assessment completed; other than meals tax or hotel tax, we only can raise property taxes; hotel tax may be good as it usually hits those coming from outside Franklin. We have a great team but it in an of itself is not enough

Mercer - people need to know these issues now; we know it is inevitable down the road. It will go to the community as one voice. The FinCom is here, School Committee is here

Jones -as an educator myself, I completely understand the challenges of running the schools; prior overrides were seen as scare tactic; I was fearful that these things were going to be lost. Would it actually benefit us? Now ten years later we are back in the same boat. We need to do this in a positive manner, not about we could loose, this is what we are going to continue to enjoy, we need to invest in this. we need to approach is the educational approach. this is what we really want the community to be.

Nutting - we may be at all time high for excise tax and new housing permits, those revenues would decline; it would be foolish to ask for one year only, it would be better to ask for more than one year if possible

Kelly - if I was sitting home, I see we hired five new police officers and hear the word override, what is going on? We are fortunate to have our Chief of Police and he has made changes, they changed the way they do business and we were able to bring in the five officers with savings to their budget. I don't know that any one knows or feels the pain enough to buy into an override.

I am most upset with the State for their unfunded mandates. I don't believe we push our representation hard enough to get the changes we need. We have gone to the well. I didn't hear SchCom talk about redistricting but that might be an option. We all need to figure this out. I don't know where we go from here. It is a scary situation.

We're going to lose things no matter what, but let's come back with Plan B.

Mercer - "No one is saying there is an override tomorrow, as that is not happening." we need to look at things and come up with a plan to explain what we need to do

Dollorco - we are in the process, we are not along in this process, Boston is facing this as well. to the override, we need to get together. Fire is working on something similar, i don't know where they are at

Mercer - I hope that the community

George Conley - FinCom - shameless plug for examining every line of the budget, many of the meetings have no citizens (Shameless plug in that I do participate as a citizen to record and report for Franklin Matters. It is cool to think  that I am considered part of the 'administration')

Max Moringello - speaking to the avg cost of per pupil expenditure, a difference of 15.7% below the state average

lots of building apartments coming online, when are we going to slow things down, that is causing a problem.

Nutting - one of the dilemmas is that people have property rights and they can build what they want within our zoning guidelines; how are we going to stop growth? it is really not possible. The only constraint is running out of water (but we have capacity)

Twice the town voted against the community preservation act where we could have had the funding to buy land. Controlling growth in our vibrant community is a challenge.

This Council has bought land for the exact purpose you describe. I spend a half hour a day looking at that map. We spend time trying to get land but we don't get many sellers.

Kelly - credit to Jeff, it probably spends an hour or 2. It is suburban sprawl, it is nothing we can do about it. We talk about it all the time, we'd like to do something but there is really little we can do. We are going to grow, that is a given; the real question is how can we raise sufficient funding to continue to provide funding to meet our needs. The community doesn't know how much we bandaid all the the time. We have to find a solution to permanently fix and not bandaid

Jamie - last year we drained 1.5M from the budget stabilization fund and there is nothing left in it, what was there is being used this year.

the budget hearings are starting next week (3/18, 3/19, 3/25, 3/26).
** updated post meeting - hearing schedule changed from 4 to 2 meetings; 3/18 and 3/25

Renewable energy in place, lower rate contracts obtained, there is no fat. Council budget hearings 5/22 -5/24

The town budget page is available, the bond rating, budget histories, documents are there that can help explain what is going on. Some of the work we do is statutory (i.e. mandated)

Mercer - I urge the community to come out to the FinCom, Town Council and School Committee meetings to understand the issues.

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