Friday, January 22, 2021

Franklin's "Watch list" for 2021

The "watch list" for Franklin in 2021. These are the items I see facing Franklin this year. The insights developed in over fourteen years of reporting on Franklin and in particular over 100 meetings during 2020 are behind the summary of items here. This is the short story. 

If you need or want more on these, stay tuned, I'll be following these throughout the year. If you want a better explanation of one or more, send me an email. If there are enough inquires, I can also schedule a Q&A session like held Thursday for the Senior Center.

Pandemic and recovery

  • This should not be a surprise, our individual health and the health of the community will begin to determine how much the economy can recover.

Town budget/School budget for FY 2022

  • While we averted a real problem last year, the question remains: what will happen this year? We get a peek with the release of the Governor's budget next week (by statue required by Wednesday). Given 22% of our budget is state aid (DLS numbers via DLS Dashboard), that is a key starting point.
  • The economy will help via the local receipts (assuming we recover from COVID-19). The School budget is the big unknown (from my point of view). The District is making progress on the Davis Thayer situation (but no timeline or approval yet on closing the building). While that is underway, the other buildings that could also be closed are not yet on the table for discussion.

Affordable housing

  • The population of Franklin has seen slower growth recently. What is the proper mix of housing for the population we have and anticipate? Will it be affordable for the folks to live here? All good questions and the discussion will be held in earnest this year.

Franklin election (November 2021)

  • Yes, the Town Council, School Committee, and many other positions are up for election in November. Who will run? What issues will they be facing? Will we see more youthful and diverse candidates?

Citizen engagement

  • The voter turnout for the Sep and November 2020 elections were the highest numbers seen although by percent, we have turned out more (in 2016). The pandemic likely contributed to both the voter numbers and smaller per cent. Mail ballots were a key contributor. Will they become the 'norm'? What about early voting for a local election?
  • The access to public meetings has made more engagement possible. Franklin residents can participate via Zoom, live stream, or cable channel. Less of an excuse to not be able to see and hear what is going on whether Town Council, Planning Board, School Committee or any number of other public boards and committees.


What would you add to this list?

What was the "watch list" for 2020?

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