Providing accurate and timely information about what matters in Franklin, MA since 2007. * Working in collaboration with Franklin TV and Radio (wfpr.fm) since October 2019 *
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Bang for your buck
No real surprises there. Steve Whalen had put together a similar table and now that table is part of the Financial Planning Committee's report.
If the tax rate was use instead of assessed home values, Franklin would rise higher on the chart.
View the full chart here in the Globe
View the Financial Planning Committee report here
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Q & A - Whalen final comment (audio)
A - Whalen, it would be depressing if the turnout were less than 25% and the override lost. There is a popoulation that won't vote for an override under any circumstances.
Time: 1 minute, 18 seconds
Q & A 8 - Ogden, Whalen also respond (audio)
A - Ogden, we are looking for other sources. The parent groups provide funding each year. The Franklin Education Foundation contributes approx. $20,000 per year. Working with a lawyer to set up an endowment. Looking at advertising revenue.
A - Whalen, he is a financial analyst by trade, it is impossible to continue to delivery high quality services at the low tax rate. Goal would be more near the median and not near the bottom.
Time: 3 minutes, 22 seconds
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Steve Whalen (audio)
Time: 17 minutes, 41 seconds
Note: you may need to tune up the voume to hear Steve due to the quality of the recording.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Q & A - continued (live reporting)
A - Condominiums. Condos are actually a good deal for the town, they are taxed upon their value. They generally have less children.
Comment from a resident who teaches in Wellesley. She would love to teach here but with the cuts so frequently, she would be one of the first out the door.
Q - Why is the override only affecting the schools?
A - Jeff answers that the 1.8 million in new revenue was split and the town managed to use their portion. The safety (fire and police) got their overtime cut.
The safety departments were looking for additional folks but they did not get approved in the budget. The town will suffer but it won't be as visible.
Comment: You have a bad rap, you didn't ask for enough so you don't know what you're doing. I am not hearing the buzz that I heard last year. I am hearing a lot more negative this time.
Q - How does the charter school funding work?
A - It is a state formula but the dollars per student that the district pays is what the charter is eligible to receive. So if our funding goes up, they will benefit. If ours go down, theirs will as well.
Q - What about out of town students?
A - We only use school choice to fill spots that would otherwise be empty. Therefore there is no additional cost for us but there is additional revenue.
Q - Can we talk about re-districting?
A - It is highly likely that this will happen sometime. The large majority of the new development coming is in the Keller-Sullivan district. You already tight for space there. As the new construction comes online, this will increase the pressure to re-district and balance the school population amongst the existing facilities. One other factor is the 17 modular units that would need to get replaced in the next several years. Would we replace them or add on to an existing elementary school. There is a space needs committee working on this issue.
Q - Is the Brick school open or closed?
A - It is still in currently but it has not been fully funded. There are open classrooms at Davis Thayer that could easily absorb the classroom.
Q - The Newcomer's group is looking to use space for the meetings but the town facilities are not generally open or under consideration.
A - Jeff Nutting says that this could be discussed.
Q & A session (live reporting)
Fixed cost continue to rise above our ability to raise revenues
There is a three-year plan as part of this years budget, we get more negative each year going out.
All employees are getting modest raises, generally less than the cost of living.
"Don't beat up public employees just because the town is having financial problems"
"We talk about regionalization and every where else in the country that happens but doesn't happen here."
There is a ballot item this November to remove the State Income tax. This provides 40% of the state revenue. What would replace it? No one has answered that question.
"A town's budget is a reflection of it's values"
Steve explains how the tax rate analysis he did was done separately it is not an official town document. He did the analysis to answer the comments coming during the override discussion last year that "we can't afford it" He is a financial analyst in his work life.
The residential tax burden goes to affordability.
Being 24th out of 30, tells Steve that if we chose to, we can afford to pay more.
15th out of 17th amongst the towns with a single tax rate.
"One thing I would say to you as an analyst, the override is not about overspending and waste. It not about miss-management. It is about what kind of town you want to live in."
Based upon Steve's analysis, "it is a sensible thing to do."
After tax cost about 50 cents per day.
Newcomer - "There is a different approach this year, it is not being thrust down our throats."
"If the layoffs go through, it is a step back of some magnitude."
You are getting factual information to make a choice.
Look at Randolph and what is happening there.
OPEC and the oil countries don't care that MA has a Prop 2 1/2 in place.
If I were in Hopkinton, #4 on the listing, I would be digging into the numbers to find ways.
If property values decrease, the overall taxes will not decrease, we will raise the tax rates.
Arlington plan outlined. Whether we go that way or not, we do need to go with a longer term plan.
Q - What happened to Chap 70? Isn't that the local aid designed for the schools? Where is it going, is it going into the general town fund?
A - Yes, it is but as long as we are above the net school spending per the State, we can apply it as we need to.
Reviewing his handout that will be used in the Town Budget meetings next week.
First chart, the State average spending category by category showing where Franklin is less than the state average in 10 of the 11 categories.
Last year, we were 9 of 11. Next year, Wayne predicts that next year if the override were to fail we will be lower than the state in all 11 categories.
Wayne walks through the numbers to get from the level service number less the town funding to get to the override number of $2.8 Million.
Use gas instead of oil to heat schools and have locked in a good rate to save money.
Impact of failed override restated as
- 17 teachers and one administrator at the High School
- 12.5 teachers at the middle schools
- 15 teachers at the elementary schools
- district wide reductions in curriculum teams, professional development, text books, late bus, increase pay-to-ride, and loss one additional administrator at the Central Office
- increase in class sizes
If a teacher gets another position, we don't pay their unemployment.
Sample teacher salaries across several communities the highest and lowest salaries are very comparable.
Q - What is the cost of the late bus?
A - $39,600. There are so many bad choices.
Q - How does the school facilities budget affect the budget?
A - It is not a money savings measure. There are more likely to be increases in future years.
Jeff Roy did find the clip of Jeff Nutting predicting last year that this year we would need approx $3 million for another override, hence his "Nostradamus" nick name.
Q - I understand why we are here again this year. Mis-management is the perception.
A - The use of the surplus and the growth in Chapter 70 has allowed the town to avoid the problem. The base needs to grow substantially.
"Hard to argue that you can be a real high quality town with really low taxes."
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
"it's not true that we can't afford more"
When comparing Franklin's tax burden to those of 29 other comparable communities - neighboring towns, those near the Interstate 495 belt with a high commercial/industrial base like Franklin, and those with similar populations - Franklin fares well.
"We're still, by this measure, a very efficient town. People who talk about waste and inefficiency - I don't see any evidence of it.
"How can you have waste and inefficiency if you're spending less than all your peers? There's none," said Whalen.
In 1999, the most current available census data, Franklin's median family income was $81,826, which has almost certainly increased with the influx of professionals in recent years, Whalen said.
Franklin's median home assessment for 2008 is $411,508, putting the tax burden - (a measure based on a person's income and home value) at 5.1 percent, Whalen said.
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Councilor Whalen (audio)
Time: 1 minute, 56 seconds
Override Date 6/10/08 (audio)
Councilors Whalen and Mason questioned Town Clerk Debbie Pellegri on Tuesday/Saturday
Time: 5 minutes, 11 seconds
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Discussion on proposal for sign on the Town Common (audio)
Time: 10 minutes, 56 seconds
Habitat for Humanity presentation (audio)
Time: 25 minutes, 12 seconds
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Closing Comments (audio)
Time: 4 minutes, 35 seconds
Tax & Title Discussion (audio)
Time: 4 minutes, 13 seconds
Feeley, Pfeffer, Whalen
Friday, January 18, 2008
Recommendations: Q&A 1 (audio)
Time: 4 minutes, 32 seconds
Monday, January 14, 2008
Mr Sullivan - Part 6 (audio)
Time: 7 minutes, 58 seconds
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Mr Sullivan - Part 3 (audio)
This portion includes Q&A with Councilors Whalen, Feeley, McGann, Pfeffer, Doak, and School Committee Chairperson Jeff Roy.
Time: 9 minutes, 36 seconds
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Town Council Meeting 12/19/07 - Summary
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)
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
Nutting – capital forecasts
Reference to gen fund debt worksheet “Franklin capital Plan, Dacey 11-29-07”
1.4M debt currently in plan but not being used
Municipal parking used to leverage some grant application, several months application pending
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
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
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
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
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
Policy versus advice, need some assistance from the appropriate parties
Getting the other assets on the sale front is important, we will need to get that revenue sooner than later
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
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
Monday, December 3, 2007
Historical Comm Q&A 1
Time: 5 minutes, 36 seconds
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Tax Hearing Citizens Comment 7
Time: 4 minutes, 4 seconds
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tax Hearing Citizens Comment 4
Time: 1 minute, 22 seconds