Showing posts with label Mason. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mason. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Letter from Scott Mason

Dear Franklin Citizens,

As I write this, I am trying to clear my head after a very long day at the polls yesterday.

Nearly 40-percent of our registered voters exercised their constitutional right to vote in a special election that asked voters to approve a $3 million tax override. The question failed.

Several members of the Town Council, School Committee, Finance Committee, as well as many private citizens, worked very hard over the past month in an attempt to present the facts behind the need for this extra money. We held a public forum, spoke to PCC’s and met with folks in their homes. Many of us used vacation time from work, sacrificed time with families, and postponed personal plans to provide this service. We did this willingly and with enthusiasm for a cause we truly believe in – the Town of Franklin.

Along the way, we met people who welcomed us into their homes, invited their friends to hear us, and were genuinely concerned with the troubles our community faces.

We also met and heard from citizens who don’t believe in what we are doing. We were told that Franklin overspends, that Franklin must live within it’s means; that because private businesses are not providing raises to it’s workers, Franklin too, must continue to cut personnel and services. In some cases, we as the town government were blamed for problems at the state and federal level. Some of these citizens engaged us in polite, civil conversation, and some, unfortunately, made their feelings known in less mature ways.

Franklin has always benefited from a below-average tax rate and above-average services. Our employees work very hard with very limited resources. It is my deepest hope that despite these next round of cuts, they can somehow continue to do so. We enjoy great “bang for the buck” in this town. Unfortunately, seeing the cuts that have been made over the years, the effects on our schools and municipal infrastructure, I know that we are in for a very rocky road.

I want to thank the folks that gave so much of their time to fight for this cause, and I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote, either for or against the override. Let’s never forget the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives to preserve our freedom. Democracy works.

Perhaps the best aspect of Proposition 2 1/2, is that it gives citizens the opportunity to determine the destiny of their community. This was played out in Franklin yesterday, and was and will be played out in many cities and towns in Massachusetts this spring. We as a Town Council will work with what we have as we have always done, and I as the Council Chairman will continue to do my best to represent the best interests of all our citizens.


Scott Mason
Town Council Chairman

Franklin, MA

Saturday, May 29, 2010

FM #69-B Scott Mason - Part 2 of 2

This is part two of two, the conversation with Town Council Chair Scott Mason. We covered the whole gamut of issues around the special election coming up June 8th on the $3 million override.

Time: 29 minutes, 47 seconds

Audio file ->

Show Notes and Quotes:

Part 1 of this interview can be found here:

This segment picks up right where that one left off.

Franklin faces multiple issues
Override this year, potential shortage again next year, and then the high school renovation later next year

$100 million dollars is a wrong number for the high school
Three years ago when we started there was an estimate that if we did build a new school, it would be in the neighborhood of 100. But there was never any concrete pricing for that. I won't hold anyone on the committee to this but I think a renovation of the scope needed for this school would be in the neighborhood of $50-60 million with a state reimbursement of 50%

a debt exclusion is a different animal, an override is forever, a debt exclusion is for a set period, in this case for a school, 20 years. The actual taxes wouldn't actually hit our tax bills until 2014 or 2015 when the project is done

If we don't pass the debt exclusion on the states time line, we end up losing the 50% reimbursement, we would have to pay the full 100%.

Well unfortunately, there is not much of a decision to make, we have been on the brink of loosing our accreditation, that affects the ability of our kids to get into good colleges.

That school is 40 years old. “I was speaking with an owner of a bio-tech company, he goes to visit schools and he says Franklin is by far the worst.” He brings in equipment and the people don't even know what it is. We need to update the science labs, we need to make it ADA access compliant, the field house roof leaks, the floor tiles are asbestos and at the time it was okay to use, but when a tile is touched for construction like this, the state requires you remove them all. We do need some additional classrooms to handle the growth.

Bid packets have gone out to 23 architects to date so we expect to have some good responses, it is a long time line. Construction isn't slated to begin until the end of 2012. We're looking at the vote for debt exclusion would be about Nov 2011.

Moving to a more positive note as we don't want to keep asking the taxpayers for increases, there are efforts underway to foster the growth of businesses to Franklin

The Council just voted to lessen constraints for bio-tech companies to come into the Industrial Park where we have empty space. Franklin is advertising with trade and industry groups. Planning and Community Development is working hard.

One of the benefits we have here is a single tax rate, one of the best ways to attract business is with the single tax rate, one of the least likely ways to attract business is with a dual tax rate

There was a recent example of a company moving here
As reported in the Milford Daily News a week ago about a company in Forge Park, Congressman McGovern was touring the facility and asked why he chose Franklin, he decided to come here based upon the quality of the schools. “This speaks volumes to how important our educational system is and to maintaining it.” Here is a guy who could have saved a boat load of money going elsewhere. He has 200 employees, now living here, spend money here, support our community.

The Downtown Improvement Project is coming from State and Federal grants
About five or six years ago, we received $5 million from the Federal Government and another $1 million from the State to make improvements to the downtown. We hope to by redoing the streetscapes, to attract more businesses and people to congregate downtown.

The museum is kind of another one of those hot topics of late. There are a small contingent of people who say that was a complete waste of money. I would argue vehemently with them that not only was the timing perfect, the contractors bid lower than they would have been 2-3 years ago, we came in under budget. We were able to preserve town history, we were able to renovate a building and put it to use, where it would not have been salable, it's too small a parcel. We were going to let the building fall apart. Our historical artifacts were deteriorating, and the building they were in was not really safe to be in.

“My response is, you have a photo album at home, put it out on the street and leave it there for a year. That is effectively what we were doing.”

“Everything came together and it is a perfect example of what makes us a better town”

The building is open Thursday 5:00 – 8:00 PM, Saturday 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Materials on display that are absolutely amazing, arrowheads from before recorded history, the mill store complex was one of the first places that did uniforms for the Civil War. The pilot of the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagaski lived on Southgate for 20 years.

“I view it (museum) as the key stone of that whole project. It is going to draw people to it for educational and entertainment purposes and the best part of it it is free!”

“People get a little fuzzy when it comes to the general operating budget and the capital budget.” Capital money can only be used for certain things; purchase of vehicles, renovation of buildings, technology, equipment, can not be used for salaries.

In each department if there is excess funds in the budget over the year gets put into 'free cash'. The State certifies that and then we can use it for our capital budget. We buy 2 or 3 police cruisers to refresh the fleet. Put some toward a new fire truck.

To summarize at least to this point we have talked about DPW, police, fire, schools, the 2 ½ override decision, the long term growing the pie, is there anything else we need to cover

“There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the override, that is frustrating”

I hear things like “The Town is mismanaged, the town wastes money”, anyone that has looked at this data, that is just not possible.

You hear “you never do what you say you're going to do” That is not true, when we have an override, we shout from the top of our lungs to hear what our needs are and get the opportunity to ask questions, but then when it comes time for the layoffs, those are done behind closed doors. We have less people working for the Town this year, and last year, and so on and so forth.
Some say “We always find the money” we don't, we have pickle jars in the back of Town Hall, we had received money from a lawsuit, $6 million, but that was used overtime to avoid overrides. That money is long gone. We don't find money. We are well aware of what we have and what it is earmarked for. We don't ask for something we don't need. Excuses from people where they are misinformed or plain don't want to get the information.

We suffer from a great deal of voter apathy. 16% voted in our town elections, 80% voted for the president.

On June 8th don't go to vote alone. This is not unimportant stuff we are dealing with.

The affordability of the override is important.

I don't downplay the cost of the override to the average citizen. For the average household tax bill, it amounts to about 66 cents per day, 66 per thousand of assessment.

The people who come forward and say they can't afford to pay this and yet they would be the ones to stand to loose the most.

Tina Powderly did a great deal of work to make acceptance into the programs for the seniors broader. We have done telemarketing campaigns, the senior center newsletter highlights these, yet there is a small percent of people who actually take advantage of it.

If the override fails, we loose one fireman which reduces our ability to staff one ambulance. We are not happy about being put into that position.

June 8th high school field house between 6:00 AM and 8:00 PM
Contact the Town Clerk for details

Contact any of the Town Councilors (email contact info is available on the website).

Information available on the Town website, on Franklin Matters

“If there is something, I don't know, I will get you the answer.”

As I close this session this week, let me remind you that
If you like what I am doing here, please tell your friends and neighbors
If you don’t like something, please tell me

Thank you for listening!

For additional information, please visit

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to listen to the audio recording

FM #69-A Scott Mason - Part 1 of 2

This is part one of a conversation with Town Council Chair Scott Mason. We sat on the Town Common and talked for 50 minutes covering the whole gamut of issues around the Special Election Override vote scheduled for June 8th.

Time: 28 minutes, 7 seconds

Audio file ->

Show Notes and Quotes:

This internet radio show or podcast
Number 69 in the series for Franklin Matters.

This is a special edition and divided in two parts for ease of listening. I sat on the Franklin Town Common to catch up with Town Council Chair Scott Mason. We spent about 50 minutes covering the whole gamut of issues around the special election coming up June 8th

As we did sit out in the open on the Common, there will be some background noise from a passing police car siren and then one of the groundskeepers finishing up some of the mowing getting ready for Memorial Day weekend. I was able to remove most of the mowing noise without hindering the conversation with Scott.

Notes and quotes from the first segment

busy with the informational meetings
what does it mean to services if the override passes or if the override fails
there are some people only peripherally aware of the election
there are some people who no matter what the issue is they don't want to hear about tax increases
there are some people who appreciate the information being provided

Long term planning committee, developed the five year outlook for Franklin
there is an over-reliance on state aid, we are a well run community
need to increase the tax base one way is to increase taxes

Prop 2 ½ specifically gives the voters the choice on the level of services to be provided
An opportunity to invest in Franklin and see the direct benefits from your tax dollars

We have had to be creative with less
I hear “We are poorly managed” and that is far from the truth
we get a lot of bang for the buck here in Franklin
Lost 100 teachers over last five years, yet increased 1,000 students in the same period
if we lost so many, how can there be waste?

We have lost 50 Town employees in the same period

Observation that the schools are quicker now, calling a snow day due to the time it takes to clear the sidewalks and roads, because it takes longer these days

“Rumor dejour” “everybody in DPW got new trucks” it is just not true
The vehicles are well taken care of
the Bucket truck was purchased used and came with a paint job
Instead of $130,000 brand new it was purchased for about $30,000

the police dispatchers, if override doesn't pass, could be an issue
if we get two calls at the same time, or back to back, there could be an extra wait
if that is for a health issue, that could be a real problem with response
Council not happy with creating that situation

Schools 'have too many administrators'
we are below average in all eleven categories for those tracked by the DESE
for the administrators, we are under the state avg by 52%

class sizes will increase to 28 and to 30
the level of interaction with the teachers goes away
the high performing students won't be affected as much but the vulnerable one will see it

“our most vulnerable citizens stand to suffer the most if this override doesn't pass”
As the schools accounted for over half of the overall town budget

80% of the budget is teachers – due to all the other cuts made over the years
class trips cut, books cut, they are provided by PCC or other means but not by the Town

teacher cuts are not the only place the pain will be felt
athletic fees will increase to $175 and be on a tiered scale up to $450 for hockey
activity fees will increase to $50

“Jeff Roy has said we are supposed to be in the business of providing a free education but it is no longer free”

for parents, particularly with kid sin high school, it should be cheaper pay for the override versus the athletic and activity fee increases

eliminate three buses, longer commutes
truncating one day by an hour or so at the elementary schools to save three teachers

“it has been a general philosophy around the world to increase the length of the school days and here we are in Franklin shortening the day”

if the override doesn't pas this year, next year they'll be looking at more teacher layoffs, they'll look at full day kindergarten possibly going to half day, they'll look at athletics again

“I can't imagine a high school sports tradition like Franklin has and having to cut it”

“At the end of the day,the voters are going to decide what type of town they want to live in”

Thank you for listening!

For additional information, please visit

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!

Part 2 can be found here:

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to listen to the audio recording

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Override Date 6/10/08 (audio)

From the Franklin Town Council meeting on 4/30/08, the discussion on the override date (6/10/08), Tuesday vs. Saturday, and absentee ballot information.

Councilors Whalen and Mason questioned Town Clerk Debbie Pellegri on Tuesday/Saturday

Time: 5 minutes, 11 seconds

MP3 File

Friday, February 22, 2008

Q&A Downtown Partnership

Tow Council meeting 2/13/08

Franklin Town Council in a Q&A session on the Downtown Partnership presentation

Councilors Zollo, Doak, Mason, and Vallee. Town Administrator Jeff Nutting also provides input.

Time: 12 minutes, 48 seconds

MP3 File

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mr Sullivan - Part 7 (audio)

Mr Sullivan continues to answer questions from Councilors McGann and Mason, Jeff Nutting chimes in with an answer. Frank Falvey tries to speak the first time.

Time: 4 minutes, 18 seconds

MP3 File

Friday, December 21, 2007

Franklin Blogger: Model trains, his passion


Model railroads are Mason's passion

By Heather McCarron/Daily News staff

Although he was just 4 years old at the time, Scott Mason clearly remembers the first train set he ever received — 1950s vintage, used Lionel trains given to him for Christmas by a family friend.

Read the full article here

Scott Mason's website can be found here

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Town Council Meeting 12/19/07 - Summary

The Town Council meeting of 12/19/07 was recorded and sections of the meeting are available as follows:

Announcement: Planning Board Positions (audio)

Proclamation: Carlo Geromini (audio)

Motion on License Renewals (audio)

Jeff Nutting on the Capital Requirements (audio)

Town Administrator's Report (audio)

Closing Comments

My notes taken during the meeting as it occurred:

Accepting applications for planning board up through Jan 9th, appointing Jan 29th to fulfill

Rep. Vallee – House Resolution in recognition of Carlo Geromini

Carlo’s comments, has been reading… currently in middle of Kerouac “On the Road”,

Discussion on Franklin Tavern, in bankruptcy, viewing with buyers, license up for renewal
Even with renewal the trustee can’t use the license until further proceeding are accomplished
Passed 7-0

Nutting – capital forecasts
Reference to gen fund debt worksheet “Franklin capital Plan, Dacey 11-29-07”

Bartlett, Q
1.4M debt currently in plan but not being used
Municipal parking used to leverage some grant application, several months application pending

Whalen Q
3.5 percent very conservative
As debt frees up, there will always be something else to spend it on, walk the balance
Policy and guideline, free to be changed

Doak Q
2010 or 2011 depending upon what you want to do
Council is authorizing projects
Staff or capital committee makes recommendation
Roads are not part of this capital planning
500-700,000 Chapter 90 money from state funds our road work
900,000 in 2001,900,000 in 2004 otherwise nothing from town funds, totally from the state
Pleasant St 9.5 million alone
One huge need unmet is roads, could suggest an override, cash or state

Capital requirements
Schools 3.5M for other non-HS repairs

Portables lifespan remaining 5,6,7 years; cost over 2M
Population continues to increase, they need the space

HS – renovate or replace, tens of millions, no specific game plan yet, not on state listing
No significant impact to tax bill

Library interior, next 3-5 years, outside priority

Need to cap landfill, trying to get a land swap to help the process

Underground utilities, should it be done at the same time? Open for discussion/decision

Recreation center (currently in Municipal building)

Open space – long term savings in this kind of purchase

Roads build up a fund year over year

Water – gone through the 15 m authorized years ago, still have miles of pipe to be replace, can pay as we go with cash

Sewer – unless Beaver St junction comes apart, can go with normal cash flow to cover

Delcarte property – unknown at this point

Whalen Q
DEP has been lenient on this issue thus far…
Expect best guess estimate in next couple of months
District Improvement Financing (DIF) – state process, up to 25% of the town
Economic development grants are possible, generally smaller amounts

We have done well with grants, some we are not eligible for due to the wealth of the community

Doak Q
Amounts in water/sewer for ongoing funds, what’s our capacity
Took money from water reserves, approx 2M in water account
Not making enough money on an annual basis thus far, so would need to use that to stabilize the rate before we raise it

Earliest would be for 09 or 2010 for additional water/sewer projects, probably next 60 days come forward with a plan

Bartlett Q
Policy versus advice, need some assistance from the appropriate parties

Zollo Q
Getting the other assets on the sale front is important, we will need to get that revenue sooner than later

Pfieffer Q
Library, should not be considered last on the listing

RFP received no bids
Should consider changes to go back out again

Nutting – Admin Report
Kudos to DPW, snow blowers travel slower, plows can go quicker but couldn’t handle the depth of the snow

Ryan Jette awarded Heights award
Nice award from an outside group

Holiday on Monday, Tuesday, Christmas, New Year day before as well

Councilor comments
Zollo, quality of rec program, convinced that we have one of the best programs
Creating an inflationary bid process by publishing estimates before hand

2 phase project
17 trades bid on amount of work for their potion, collated with those numbers, then general contractor takes that to include his portion to come back with the total

Various estimates will come in but bids will not come in with the inflation
Filed sub records are public record, according to specs
Seems counter intuitive, public bid law
Seems to be a recurring theme if we did not have to abide by the state laws

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tax Hearing Q&A - 2

Councilor Mason's question on the reasoning for the single tax rate and not the split tax rate. DiBaggis and Norman reply.

Time: 4 minutes, 6 seconds

MP3 File