Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Annual Report Of The Town Council - FY 2021

Note: FY 2021 is last year (July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021). The report was prepared to cover the business for the FY 2021 period. This year’s report FY 2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022) is in preparation now and is normally available for distribution at the polls for the November election.

The Town Council is the holder of all general, corporate, legislative, and appropriation powers of the Town of Franklin. On behalf of the Town Council, I submit our annual report for fiscal year 2021.

Franklin Town Council 
Tom Mercer, Chair
Robert Dellorco, Vice Chair
Glenn Jones, Clerk 
Matthew Kelly 
Deborah Pellegri 
Melanie Hamblen 
Andrew Bissanti 
Brian Chandler
Eamon McCarthy-Earls (Resigned - September 2020) Cobi Frongillo (Elected - December 2020)

Budget Subcommittee
The Budget subcommittee is Chaired by Councilor Matthew Kelly. Subcommittee members are Thomas Mercer, Deborah Pelegri and Melanie Hamblen.

The subcommittee had a total of 4 meetings in FY21 and approved a balanced budget for FY21.

Economic Development Subcommittee
The Economic Development Subcommittee is chaired by Melanie Hamblen. Members of the committee are Glenn Jones, Andrew Bissanti, Eamon McCarthy-Earls (through September 2020), Brian Chandler, and Cobi Frongillo (December 2020 - present).

A special thank you to Councilor Brian Chandler who stepped in to serve on EDC while a special election commenced. As of January 2021 Cobi Frongillo has stepped in to serve on the Economic Development Subcommittee.

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town Council had a very active and productive year preserving and growing the local economy. As COVID-19 had a devastating impact on many local restaurants, the Town Council voted to give the Town Administrator authority to grant temporary outdoor dining licenses as allowed by the ABCC. This change allowed for restaurants to have outdoor dining in order to comply with COVID-19 regulations. Outdoor dining was further extended into the fall season and eventually extended for the entirety of the declared state of emergency in Massachusetts to give many struggling restaurants the opportunity to keep their doors open.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the Council approved a Temporary Bylaw Amendment for the Municipal Service Fees Section A to reduce 2021 Annual License Fees by 25% for all Section 12 Common Victualer Licenses for the 2021 renewal period only, after which the full fees shall be reinstated. This was an effort to alleviate some of the financial burdens on local restaurants.

The Council also approved state Farmer Series Section 19 licenses for the first ever craft brewery and first ever craft distillery in Franklin and continues to improve the current bylaw to attract similar businesses. The introduction of Farmer Series licenses to town has provided a much needed economic boost.

The Economic Development Subcommittee held a series of five Business Listening Sessions with Business owners, key stakeholders and citizens to discuss needs, ideas and strategies to improve Franklin's Economic Development, Marketing and communications. These sessions focused on:
Downtown Franklin, the Crossing, and Franklin Cultural District
Restaurants, Hotels and Hospitality
Retail, Personal Services and Fitness
Industrial Parks and Manufacturing
Real Estate, Construction and Housing.

Capital Budget Subcommittee
The Capital Budget Subcommittee is Chaired by Councilor Debbie Pellegri and has members consisting of Robert Dellorco, Matthew Kelly, and Brian Chandler.
The Capital Budget Subcommittee recommended that the full Town Council appropriated:

Capital Round 1:
School - Vehicles, Infrastructure, technology & Equipment - $200,000
Facilities - Infrastructure - $500,000
Fire - Equipment & Technology - $127,535
Police - Vehicles, Equipment, Technology - $299,675
Public Works - Infrastructure & Vehicles - $415,000
Water Enterprise - Vehicles, Infrastructure, Technology & Equipment - $753,000
Sewer Enterprise - Infrastructure & Vehicles - $506,000

Capital Round 2:
Finance - Budget Stabilization - $137,000
Public Works - Road & Infrastructure, Snow & Ice Personnel/Expenses, Vehicle - $182,058
Technology - Sonic Firewall Upgrade & Licenses - $219,489
School - Security Expansion - $32,000
Treasurer/Collector - Software - 25,000
Animal Control - Vehicle - $20,000
Facilities - Police Station Study - $150,000

Ad Hoc Stormwater Committee
The Ad Hoc Stormwater Subcommittee is chaired by Melanie Hamblen and has members consisting of Robert Dellorco, Glenn Jones and Eamon McCarthy Earls. The subcommittee held four Community Information Sessions to educate the community on the facts and financial burdens of stormwater. These sessions were held at various times, days of the week and locations to be able to accommodate all who wanted to attend. However due to the COVID-19 pandemic one session which would have been held at the library was cancelled. A formal recommendation is being discussed in 2021 at the Town Council level about how to finance this unfunded mandate from the federal government (EPA).
More information on stormwater can be found here: https://www.franklinma.gov/stormwater-division.

The Franklin Town Council unanimously supported the authorization to add the Community Preservation Act to the November 2020 ballot. The passing of this Act would result in a 2% surcharge on real property to begin in FY21 for the purposes of acquisition, creation, preservation, and rehabilitation of open space, historic resources, land for recreational uses, and support of community housing. CPA previously failed at the ballot in 2007 with a 56.5% voting no. However, 58% voted yes in 2020. Thank you to the citizens of Franklin for investing in your future by agreeing to pay more to protect open space, ballfields, parks, affordable housing, and historical preservation.

The Council established a Community Preservation Committee consisting of one member of the Conservation Commission, one member of the Historical Commission, one member of the Housing Authority, one member of the Recreation Advisory, one member of the Planning Board and four at large citizens.

The Town Council celebrated the completion and opening of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) Prospect Street Tunnel in October of 2020 during a ribbon cutting with supporters, Representative Jeff Roy, Senate President Karen Spilka, Senator Becca Rausch, Town and state officials.

The Town Council continues to work with the Senior Center/ Council on Aging and the Administration on educating the community and increasing awareness and understanding of the Dementia Friendly initiative.

The Plastic Bag Prohibition Bylaw passed and went into effect in July 2020 with the option for local businesses to apply for a three month compliance extension for economic hardship.
The Town Council signed a 36 month contract with consultant Colonial Power Group and electricity supplier Dynegy Energy Services to design, implement, manage, and supply its electricity program. This program is designed to reduce the community's carbon footprint, enhance individual homeowner choice for electricity rates and achieve more stable pricing.

The Town Council voted to renew the Comcast Cable License Agreement. The renewal term for this agreement will be from December 2, 2020 to December 1, 2030. In this agreement Comcast has agreed to a discount for qualified Senior Citizens 65 or older as well as $2.00 off its monthly “Extra” Service Level or that Digital Level of Service.

The Council approved a balanced budget and worked with the Town Administration on obtaining a five year capital plan for all departments including the Water and Sewer Enterprise funds.

Several Zoning Bylaw and traditional Bylaw amendments were approved in FY21 consisting of various lot line cleanups throughout town, changes to former bylaws to comply with the towns MS4 Permit and Stormwater management plans, and updates to the Fire Departments ALS/BLS and Mileage rates.

The Town Council determined a water rate increase to prepare for the water treatment plant and the reconstruction of wells 3 and 6. This is a $12 million dollar project that will add 720K GPD for public safety, preservation of the water supply and potential for future economic growth.

The Town accepted over $224,000 worth of donations in the 2021 fiscal year. These donations helped to support various Town Departments.

The Council successfully navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early months of the pandemic the Town Council held remote virtual meetings using the ZOOM platform. Starting July 29th Council members and select staff hosted meetings in the Council chambers and broadcast them over television live streams, citizens were able to participate in the meeting using the zoom platform.
Finally, on behalf of the entire Town Council, I would be remiss if I did not thank all of the employees of the Town of Franklin for their tireless dedication, innovation and work during the year of 2020/2021 dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic. We have been impressed and blessed with the incredible staff we have to keep the organization moving forward on all of the Town’s goals. Thank you!

It is a pleasure to serve my fellow citizens and to submit this annual report on behalf of the Franklin Town Council for your review.


Thomas Mercer Chairman, 
Franklin Town Council 

The full Annual Report for 2021 can be found

The collection of Annual Reports can be found online

Annual Report Of The Town Council - FY 2021
Annual Report Of The Town Council - FY 2021

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