Friday, April 30, 2021

DPW loses two positions in FY 2022 budget due to Town Council inaction on Stormwater utility proposal

Why Town Council inaction?
You should ask them individually. I have been reporting on their meetings and while there is a lack of understanding around the reality of stormwater for some of the members, and how to best fund it, I had been lead to believe that this discussion was coming in the budget discussions. 

I found out during the Finance Committee hearing Thursday evening, that adjustments were made to 'get by' in anticipation that the Town Council would not approve the utility fee. So the DPW gets cuts now. There is still time for the stormwater discussion to happen. The Council has their budget hearings May 27-28 at which they will approve the budget for FY 2022.

  • The stormwater story summarizes the development since the stormwater bylaw was passed in 2007.

The stormwater utility fee was established as a mechanism to fund stormwater by a Unanimous vote in Jan 2020. It was created then to provide time for the MUNIS system to be adjusted to actually enable the billing. The software work required seems to be done as the billing does show stormwater utility with $0

All that is required now is for the Council to (1) actually create the fee so (2) the other detailed items can help establish it (credit items, credit process, etc.) and potentially restore the two positions to the DPW for FY 2022.

From the DPW section of the Town of Franklin FY 2022 budget narrative:
 (bold text indicates my change for emphasis to show where the cuts were 'buried' in the text.)

FY22 Budget Modifications, Increases & Reductions
It is important to note the shifting funding amounts and location of costs in the DPW Budget. The issue of stormwater affects the FY22 budget for DPW and will continue in future fiscal years.
Going forward, the DPW will see significant budgetary changes that will affect the services they perform. The effects of the pandemic and economy will only expedite the process.  The most notable impact being the implementation of EPA’s federally required stormwater permit and how to pay for it.  The new mandated requirements of this permit are unfunded (yes, an“unfunded mandate”).  In order to implement these legal requirements, staff have to propose shifting funds from other areas of DPW to a new stormwater division. The amount of funds required in FY22 are only the beginning,over the next two years cost increases due to theMS4 are anticipated to be at least another $200,000annually. Over time, this will “eat up” operating capacity in the budget which, in turn, will reduce other services and improvements we provide.
In order to continue to meet the needs of our residents,address changes in regulatory requirements, and staffing concerns next year, the following list outlines the major changes in the Franklin Public Works Budget.While there are nominal increases in some areas, the majority of changes are just shifting funds from specific lines to areas that are of a higher priority.
Once again, the most pressing issue is funding the new MS4 permit requirements that are mandated by the recent settlement with the EPA, but have not been appropriately funded in the past.
In order to accurately reflect the cost of the ongoing required stormwater efforts, we have to create a Stormwater Division within the DPW General Fund with a budget of $867,545. Specifically, $265,545 in personnel salaries and $602,000 in expenses.
The salary costs of $265k are a reallocation of current staff from other DPW divisions to reflect their current efforts in stormwater the town has been doing for years. In other words, these monies have not changed, they have just moved from one division in the DPW to another.
Therefore, the additional funding needed to meet the requirements in FY22 is $602,000 over what the Town already does for stormwater work. To make up for the deficit caused by these additional costs, many cuts and reallocations of funds were made in other DPW Divisions. The most pressing concerns include cutting two labor positions, one from our highway and one from our grounds crews, which will affect our response to daily duties but more importantly to emergency situations like snow and ice operations.  Expense line items were cut across the board as deemed the most appropriate.In addition to these cuts, requests for increases in various service areas were forgone, most notably in road construction and tree maintenance.
Overall the DPW General Fund budget did go up $338,000. This includes a cut of ($22,000) on the salary side and an overall increase of $360,000 of expense items.
The majority of the salary change includes, cutting two positions from our crew, adding a GIS position to accommodate town wide needs, adding staff hours to meet increased demand at the Recycling Center, and required payroll increases due to the collective bargaining agreement, COLA costs for non-union employees and the minimum wage increase in Massachusetts.  Many of the salary and personnel decisions revolve around current and future stormwater requirements. We have also reallocated a portion of the salaries of our Stormwater Manager, Management Staff, Administrative staff, and two DPW Crew Members to the new Stormwater Division.
With the retirement of our Deputy Director of Operations in FY21, we made a change to our management structure by eliminating the position  and hiring an  Assistant Highway & Grounds Superintendent and an Assistant Water & Sewer Superintendent instead. Due to the growing needs of our department, this transition has been very successful and we plan to continue this setup in FY22.  The Town did not fill the Deputy Director of Operations position.


You can find this section beginning page 64

You can also find the DPW section (extracted from the full doc here)  

DPW loses two positions in FY 2022 budget due to Town Council inaction on Stormwater utility proposal
Check out the impervious coverage map for your property ->

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