Monday, June 15, 2020

Town Council positions on the override - Nov 2019

During the run up to the Town of Franklin local election in November 2019, we shared the interviews with many of the candidates for the Town Council and School Committee.

One of the questions asked the Town Council candidates was:
“The Town Administrator has suggested that Franklin needs to consider an override measure. What actions will you take for this? “
Note these answers were provided by the candidates in the run up to the election. This is the historical record of their position at that time. The successful candidate positions are shared here. The full listing is provided in the link below.

*** Town Council answers

  • Eamon McCarthy Earls
EE - I think it's a great question. Certainly we've been faced with some very trying times. A lot of it ties back to escalating costs for health care and our overall pension and other post-employment benefit (OPEB) liabilities which continue to mount and which probably nobody back in 1980 was concerned with or fully cognizant of how much it would cost.

I think it's ultimately a decision that rests with the voters. I would support offering that as an option to the voters to decide. I think it's really important to have that participation in something so critical in our town. I'm sure it will be a hard fought issue. Franklin residents have had debates in the past about budgets and cuts. Questions of overrides came up particularly the late 2000s. So I think really letting each side make their case will be really important.

  • Melanie Hamblen
Audio interview

  • Tom Mercer

TM = First, we’ll need to monitor the towns’ budget situation closely throughout the year as the Town Administrator and Superintendent build their budgets. I’d expect that we would have a reasonable number in late January. My guess is the next Town Council and School Committee will have to discuss an override, how much and for what and what the community strategy may be.

At this point, I support and hope a discussion will occur next year on discussing with taxpayers a revenue increase. As the Town Administrator has stated numerous times, the cost of doing business is far exceeding our ability to raise revenue. Construction costs, personnel costs and Heath care costs are increasing at a rate that has put stress on the system relative to service demand. It’s a partial symptom of a good economy for sure. And it’s something we need to really engage a wider audience in the community on. Everyone will need to be involved. As ultimately any override is a decision made by the Community as a whole not the Town Council. It is the Town Council’s job to provide the community with all the facts so they can make an informed decision.

  • Andrew Bissanti

AB = I think ultimately what's going to happen is the council is going to push the override to a ballot and let the people decide. That seems to be rhetoric from the existing council right now. I think it's only fair that way. I want to make a rational decision. How it's going to affect dollars, and the people of Franklin. Whatever the greater good is for Franklin. I don't want to see services to the town and infrastructure suffer. Careful study and examination and reporting will and is being conducted and we will have more facts soon.

  • Robert Dellorco
Audio interview

  • Matt Kelly
MK = So I'm on the budget subcommittee and I'm probably one of the more vocal people on the budget subcommittee. I know I didn't make any friends with the School Committee when I told them that I didn't necessarily agree with their budget. Councilor Mercer and I are the only two that were on the School Committee prior to being on the Town Council. I wish there was a prerequisite so that everybody would have to do that because I think you learn a lot.

Looking at the budget, I don't think we're ready for an override yet and there's a number of factors for this. I don't see that the budget has all the fluff cut out of it and I don't see any clear projection of numbers. I agree, that our administration is telling the truth when they say that it's getting tight, but I also understand that a lot of people out there are getting tight on their budgets too. We need to look at what our plan is, is it a reduction in our budget, and an override? Who knows right now and now isn’t the time to ask our citizens either. We have to consider what this going to do to our senior population. That has increased tremendously for people in our town. People on fixed incomes, we need to look at what it will do to them as well. There needs to be a conversation with our town’s people before you start talking override.

That's the business side of it. The human aspect is that times are too good for people to believe that we need an override. We're adding firefighters, adding police officers and there's no visible pain. You might see that we need more DPW workers or your road isn't getting done fast enough, but people don't want to vote for things until there's pain, number one. Number two, when the people complain that they're going off to pay for high school parking, then town council comes running to their rescue and says, “oh, no, we're going to give you that money in the budget.” It's not the time for an override. We should be able to say to our citizens, we can't find any money before we say override.

The reality is, I am going to be very, very stingy when it comes to saying we need an override because I'm going to pay for it just like you are. 

*** School Committee

The School Committee candidates did not get that question. The questions they answered as shown here.
  • There are and have been many opportunities to volunteer with community groups in Franklin. Have you taken advantage of any of these? Which ones, and why did you choose that/those?
  • Where do you get your news about Franklin?
  • The possibility of a change in school start times was a recent controversial topic taken up by the School Committee. Where do you stand on the issue of school start times in Franklin and what actions do you plan to take around this issue during the next term of the School Committee?
  • While the current School Committee has attempted to reach the community through various forms of communication including coffee chats, email newsletters, attending events such as the farmers market, etc., they have been generally unsuccessful at increasing the engagement with important issues related to the schools. What actions will you take to increase citizen engagement with the School Committee?
  • The Town Administrator has suggested that the School Committee investigate the possibility of closing Davis Thayer Elementary as a possible cost-saving mechanism for the town in these tight economic times. Where do you stand on this issue and what actions will you take to support your stance?
  • Why should I vote for you?

The Election Collection can be found here

Franklin Election Collection - 2019
All precincts vote on Nov 5, 2019 in one location, Franklin High School


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