Friday, May 26, 2023

Town Council approves FY 24 budget after 9 hours over 2 nights, plan for schools to get $700K more (video)

The Franklin Town Council held their two public hearing on the FY 2024 budget this week spending 5 hours Wednesday and almost 4 hours on Thursday to get inside the requests understanding the cost drivers and revenue restrictions creating hard choices for the total $150 million budget.

Quick summary of the outcome and budget choices approved:
  • Police to add to their staff to alleviate a scheduling issue that should help reduce the overtime cost and help moral by reducing the amount of forced overtime
  • Fire adding to their staff to help provide a third ambulance for coverage during four days of peak call volume. The staff increase is partially offset by additional ambulance revenues
  • Senior Center gets approval for a van driver for half the year as a step towards fulltime
  • Town administration gets approval for a shift from an assistant town administrator to a Deputy Administrator along with a half year funding for an Arts & Culture Director
  • The Franklin school budget gets an increase of approximately $700K over the $1.1m initially allocated. These funds will be part of a two resolution vote being scheduled for the June 7 Council meeting. 24 school personnel positions were cut this week by the School District to meet their expected budget shortfall of over $2M. Some of those are due to the continued declining enrollment, some of those can be restored with the additional funds being allocated. As was made clear a few times during the hearings, the Town Council only provides a line item of funding to the Schools. The School district and School Committee have the full responsibility for choices on how that money is spent
  • The Joint Budget Subcommittee will begin meeting (schedule TBD) to work on a strategic plan to address the systemic issues across both the Town and Schools budget requirements. There was consensus on increasing the revenue. Some of the increase can come from a variety of measures (storm water fee, sewer rate increase, zoning changes to increase density, etc.) as well as consideration of a possible override ballot question. In order to get to the override question, the amount of increased revenue (i.e. property taxes revenue) needs to be explored and agreed to put before the taxpayers for their approval. There are already a number of increases planned (or expected) and that needs to be part of the consideration.
    • Planned
      • storm water begins July 1, 2023
      • sewer rate increase for next three years beginning July 1, 2023 to pay for the Beaver St interceptor replacement. Construction along RT 140 begins later this year
      • possible debt exclusion for Tri-County RVTHS building replacement (amount expected in Aug 2023, vote anticipated in Oct 2023)
    • Expected
      • water rate increase to pay for PFAS mitigations
      • potential debt exclusion for renovation of Davis Thayer (DT) for town use (to make it ADA accessible). Decision on potential use anticipated by Dec 2023 from subcommittee appointed to determine recommendations
      • potential debt exclusion for new Police station or renovation of existing, committee appointed and soon to begin work on this; their work will include the DT decision as applicable
      • potential operational override to address systemic revenue issues
The Franklin TV video replay for both sessions is available
My Twitter notes captured during the meetings can be found here
The audio recording and expanded notes will be available in a couple of days

  • Franklin TV recording of Wednesday's session


  •  Franklin TV recording of Thursday's session


Town Council approves FY 24 budget after 9 hours over 2 nights
Town Council approves FY 24 budget after 9 hours over 2 nights

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