Showing posts with label override. Show all posts
Showing posts with label override. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2022

Inside the Town of Franklin Budget Cycle & Financial Terms (audio)

This shares my conversation with Town of Franklin Finance Director/Comptroller Chris Sandini and Treasurer/Collector Kerri Bertone. We had this conversation in the Franklin studio on Thursday, April 14, 2022.  

We cover the following key topics

A typical day for Finance Director/Comptroller

A typical day for Treasurer//Collector

The budget cycle, and fiscal year (July to June)

Three financial years; past, current, and future all in the mix

Our conversation runs about 62 minutes. Links to the documents referenced during this meeting are included in the show notes.  Let’s listen to this recording of my conversation with Kerri and Chris. 

Audio file ->

Note: the one change since we recorded this, the Town did achieve the AAA bond rating we talked of some day getting in this session. The Town was notified one month later.


Town of Franklin budget page -> 

Budget process flow chart -> 

MA Division of Local Services (DLS) Municipal Finance Glossary -> 


Town of Franklin budget cycle
Town of Franklin budget cycle

Saturday, May 28, 2022

“We are a nation of immigrants. We all benefit from increased public safety."

"One day after state legislators approved a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the measure, saying it poses a risk to election security.

In a letter rejecting the legislation late Friday afternoon, Baker said the bill requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles “to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity” and “increases the risk that noncitizens will be registered to vote.”

He also expressed concern that the identification wouldn’t distinguish an undocumented person from a documented one."

Continue reading the Boston Globe article online (subscription may be required)

CommonWealth Magazine coverage

A Pass the Work and Family Mobility Act Rally was held on the steps of the Massachusetts State House on July 29, 2021. (Photo by Rose Lincoln)
A Pass the Work and Family Mobility Act Rally was held on the steps of the Massachusetts State House on July 29, 2021. (Photo by Rose Lincoln)

Friday, October 1, 2021

Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on FY22 Budget Provisions

Senate Overrides Governor's Vetoes on FY22 Budget Provisions

Senate supports vulnerable populations, a robust regional transit system, safe drinking water and long-term solutions for poverty and higher education affordability

Today, the Massachusetts State Senate took final action to override a series of gubernatorial vetoes on the state budget for fiscal year 2022. In restoring key provisions of the budget, the Senate will ensure that a greater portion of the Commonwealth's vulnerable populations receive vital support from the state, that long-term studies of poverty and higher education affordability are carried out, and that regional transit authorities are sufficiently funded to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic, along with other items.

"The Massachusetts Senate will never waiver in its commitment to people of the Commonwealth," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "By overturning these vetoes, we take one more step forward in our work to build a Commonwealth that is more inclusive, affordable and open to all – holding true to the spirit of the budget we passed earlier this year. I would like to thank Chair Rodrigues, the entire Ways and Means committee, and my colleagues in the Senate for carefully balancing and debating a budget which will take us 'back to better'."

"The votes we took today to override all of the Governor's vetoes helps to maintain the integrity and the spirit of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget conference committee agreement reached in July," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "I want to thank the Senate President and my colleagues for taking these actions that are consistent with this Legislature's support for a forward-looking budget plan. Whether it's investing in regional transportation, helping individuals and families in need of assistance, supporting our retirees or modernizing our tax code, our collective actions today reinforced our support for a state budget that has left our Commonwealth in a much stronger fiscal position than before the COVID-19 pandemic."

Included in the FY22 budget are provisions which eliminate asset limits for two programs which offer support to the Commonwealth's most vulnerable populations: Emergency Assistance to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) and Transitional Assistance to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC), which helps families with housing-related difficulties. Asset limits on these programs create arbitrary barriers to entry for families in need of assistance, preventing them from receiving money that they could spend on education, job training, reliable transportation, home expenses, and other emergency needs. Additionally, removing the asset limits protects families in poverty from being removed from these programs when they still need assistance and improves administrative efficiency by simplifying the application review process. The actions of the Senate today ensure that the asset limits for both eliminated.

The Senate also voted to restore to $94 million funding for Massachusetts' Regional Transit Authorities.

Final action was also taken to restore a revenue-positive pass-through entity excise tax which would generate $90 million for the state and save Massachusetts taxpayers up to $1.12 billion in federal taxes. 

Provisions voted on today also act to modernize the state's tax code. The FY22 budget included these provisions to remove certain tax credits which no longer serve their intended purpose, based on recommendations from a recent report by the Senate-championed Tax Expenditure Review Commission. These tax credits are claimed by only a few large companies and, according to the report, do not provide a measurable return on investment or identifiable benefit to the state

Items geared toward long-term solutions for fighting poverty and the rising cost of higher education also faced gubernatorial vetoes. Included in FY22 budget were a Special Commission on Poverty and a Higher Education Affordability Task Force. The Special Commission on Poverty will bring together advocates and experts to explore demographic disparities, analyze historical rates of poverty, identify the underlying causes of poverty in the Commonwealth, and survey existing state programs for their effectiveness, culminating in presenting policy recommendations.

Similarly, the Higher Education Affordability Task Force will bring together stakeholders from public and private institutions of higher learning, including community colleges, as well as members of the business community who have a vested interest in maintaining a well-educated and prepared workforce, to analyze rising college costs and propose solutions to the legislature.  By overriding the Governor's veto on these items, the Legislature will ensure these important commissions can commence their work.

Also restored, following vetoes by the Governor, were two provisions pertaining to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). One provision exempts DCR's Division of Water Supply Protection from restrictions or limitations on staffing levels and hiring, allowing the Division to adequately prepare for its role in protecting our drinking water. Another provision would require the DCR to obtain local approval prior to collecting parking fees in a local jurisdiction, affording municipalities the opportunity to offer input and collaborate on a parking plan with DCR that would be mutually beneficial.

Finally, the actions of the Senate would raise the cap on hours a retiree may work annually from 960 hours to 1,200 hours.

Having passed the House and Senate, the above provisions are now law.


Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on FY22 Budget Provisions
Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on FY22 Budget Provisions

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Massachusetts State Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on Fiscal Year 2022 Funding

Massachusetts State Senate Overrides Governor's Vetoes on Fiscal Year 2022 Funding

Ensures adequate funding for school districts, RTAs, police training, behavioral health and more 

The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday passed a bill to override Governor Charlie Baker's vetoes on certain items in the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget passed earlier this month. The actions taken by the Senate will ensure adequate funding for school districts, regional transit authorities (RTAs), and public and mental health supports, as well as the implementation of last year's landmark police reform bill. Additionally, the bill includes measures to reinstate certain guidance relevant to state bodies such as the MBTA and prison facilities.

"Our Fiscal Year 2022 budget was carefully crafted and debated to ensure the success of our efforts to get back to better by focusing on resources and services that are critical to everyday life in the Commonwealth," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "The Senate refuses to compromise on investing in public transportation, our schools, and behavioral health supports, among other things, which are so important to our recovery. I would like to thank Chair Rodrigues, the entire Ways and Means committee, and my colleagues for acting swiftly to override the Governor's actions.

"The votes we took to swiftly override the Governor's vetoes ensure we stay the course and uphold the spirit of a forward-looking, fiscally responsible Fiscal Year 2022 budget plan that this Senate passed unanimously a few weeks ago," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "I want to thank my friend, Senate President Spilka for her close counsel and leadership, Chair Michlewitz for his continued partnership, the members and staff of Ways and Means for their hard work and my colleagues and their staffs for their input throughout this process. Collectively, our actions today support our Commonwealth and our communities, providing municipalities with critical resources necessary to meet the requirements of police reform, preserving an equitable funding stream for our regional transit authorities, while taking a common-sense approach to fulfill future obligations we know exist—fully funding the Student Opportunity and meeting our state pension needs."

Many of the Governor's vetoes were cost-cutting measures deemed unnecessary by the Legislature in light of the state's need to invest in crucial programs and services. Gubernatorial vetoes threatened $150,000 in funding for the children's behavioral health advisory council, as well as $150,000 for Emergency Family Assistance Shelters. With the Legislature's overrides, these funds are now restored.

To offset the cost of charter schools on school districts, this legislation reinstates a policy of 100 per cent charter school tuition reimbursement for school districts which have reached the spending cap on charter schools, thereby providing $2.9 million to school districts across the Commonwealth. For local transportation, $3.5 million is reinstated to enable Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) to operate effectively as use of public transportation picks back up.

Last year's omnibus police reform legislation, An Act relative to justice, equity and accountability in law enforcement in the Commonwealth, included provisions requiring cities and towns in Massachusetts to follow new officer training standards. In line with this, the Legislature set aside $1 million in funding to pay cities and towns for costs incurred by new training programs, which the Governor vetoed entirely. The override legislation reinstates this funding so that cities and towns can be compliant with the police reform law without additional financial burden.

Citing fiscal concerns, the Senate also voted to further delay implementation of a tax deduction for charitable donations until at least 2023.

"The trigger for the charitable tax deduction was the income tax hitting 5 per cent, and that happened January 1, 2020," said Senator Adam G. Hinds (D-Pittsfield). "In the period between the triggering event and the start of the implementation of the charitable tax deduction, COVID-19 hit and completely changed our economic picture. A delay makes sense until we have more clarity on the economy and our revenue absent federal assistance."

The Fiscal Year 2022 budget conference report included two transfers of FY22 funds to help support known obligations that the Commonwealth will face in the future: fully funding the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) and unfunded state pension obligations. The Governor sent an amendment back asserting that there may not be sufficient surplus funds to make the transfers as proposed and recommended using FY21 funds instead. The Senate adopted a further amendment yesterday that suggests funding these transfers to the highest level possible given actual revenues at the time the transfer is to take place, thus providing flexibility to react to an uncertain future revenue picture while still requiring surplus funded to be dedicated to cover these future obligations.

In addition to funding projects across the Commonwealth, the legislation passed on Thursday encourages the MBTA to develop 'shovel-ready projects,' or projects in their final stages of development, in anticipation of incoming federal dollars and their requirements. The Senate also reinstated guidance on releasing, transitioning, or furloughing inmates from Massachusetts prisons in a timely manner.

Having previously been passed by the House, the overrides now return to the Governor's desk with a veto-proof majority.

Massachusetts State Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on Fiscal Year 2022 Funding
Massachusetts State Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Abortion access policies become law in MA

The Boston Globe has the following on the override of Gov Baker:

"Abortion rights will be formally codified in state law, and access to the procedure will be expanded after the Senate on Tuesday joined the House in overriding Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of the legislation.

The Senate reaffirmed its support for the abortion access measures on a 32-8 vote, one day after the House’s 107-46 vote."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required) 

CommonWealth Magazine has the following

On, the actual legislative text

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

CommonWealth Magazine: Deleo stepping down, House overrides Gov Baker's abortion veto

From CommonWealth Magazine:

"DeLeo stepping down; Mariano facing no opposition"

"IN A MESSAGE read by a tearful House clerk, Speaker Robert DeLeo announced he is resigning his position on Beacon Hill at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, setting the stage for the ascension of Majority Leader Ronald Mariano of Quincy to the top position in the chamber on Wednesday.

Shortly after the announcement just before 2 p.m., the speaker’s office said DeLeo would give a farewell address Tuesday afternoon and a caucus to elect a new speaker will be held on Wednesday."

Continue reading the article online

"House overrides Baker’s abortion veto"

"THE HOUSE ON MONDAY voted 107-46 to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of legislation allowing women as young as 16 to obtain abortions without parental or judicial consent and expanding when pregnancies can be terminated after six months.

The Senate on Tuesday is expected to join the House in overriding the governor’s veto, giving the Legislature a victory on the issue of broader abortion access at a time when President Trump has added several justices perceived as anti-abortion to the US Supreme Court. It’s not clear if a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision protecting a woman’s right to have an abortion without excessive government intervention, would have any impact in Massachusetts."

Continue reading the article online

"The margin surpassed the two-thirds majority needed in both houses to force enactment of the bill"

The Boston Globe has the following:

"The Democratic-controlled House voted Monday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a defense policy bill.

House members voted 322-87 to override the veto, well above the two-thirds needed to override. If approved by two-thirds of the Senate, the override would be the first of Trump’s presidency."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
The Washington Post also has this article
The New York Times also has this article

Saturday, December 26, 2020

"It is up to the Legislature to once again lead where Governor Baker has failed“

"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER vetoed the Legislature’s abortion bill on Thursday, forcing lawmakers to override his veto if they want to insist on lowering from 18 to 16 the age at which a woman can obtain an abortion without the approval of a parent or judge.

Baker previously offered an amendment to the Legislature’s abortion proposal doing away with the provisions he disliked, but both branches rejected the amendment and returned the legislation to the governor as originally crafted.

After days of hemming and hawing at State House press conferences about what he intended to do with the abortion language, Baker’s office issued a statement just before 2 p.m. saying he was returning the bill unsigned, which a spokeswoman said was the equivalent of a veto."
Continue reading the article online

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

In the News: "Franklin’s school district isn’t alone in its fiscal troubles"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"As the town struggles with pre-existing financial difficulties likely to be exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the word “override” has started to show up prominently in Franklin conversations.

The bleakness of the situation came into painfully clear focus last week when, in the face of potentially significant layoffs, dozens of teachers and their supporters turned out to demonstrate in the town center.

It was precipitated after the School Department found itself in the difficult position of having to advise 103 of its employees they may no longer have jobs for the 2020-21 school year - and all of this amid questions about how school will function in the fall and meet, with fewer resources, the kinds of socially-distanced guidelines that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is suggesting.

“We reluctantly issued non-renew notices to our non-professional status educators in order to meet the statutory deadline of June 15,” Schools Superintendent Sara Ahern said via email. “We did so because of the uncertainty of budget cuts and projected reductions in state aid.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Town Council budget hearing info for June 17-18
In the News: "Franklin’s school district isn’t alone in its fiscal troubles"
In the News: "Franklin’s school district isn’t alone in its fiscal troubles"

Monday, June 15, 2020

Town Council positions on the override - Nov 2019

During the run up to the Town of Franklin local election in November 2019, we shared the interviews with many of the candidates for the Town Council and School Committee.

One of the questions asked the Town Council candidates was:
“The Town Administrator has suggested that Franklin needs to consider an override measure. What actions will you take for this? “
Note these answers were provided by the candidates in the run up to the election. This is the historical record of their position at that time. The successful candidate positions are shared here. The full listing is provided in the link below.

*** Town Council answers

  • Eamon McCarthy Earls
EE - I think it's a great question. Certainly we've been faced with some very trying times. A lot of it ties back to escalating costs for health care and our overall pension and other post-employment benefit (OPEB) liabilities which continue to mount and which probably nobody back in 1980 was concerned with or fully cognizant of how much it would cost.

I think it's ultimately a decision that rests with the voters. I would support offering that as an option to the voters to decide. I think it's really important to have that participation in something so critical in our town. I'm sure it will be a hard fought issue. Franklin residents have had debates in the past about budgets and cuts. Questions of overrides came up particularly the late 2000s. So I think really letting each side make their case will be really important.

  • Melanie Hamblen
Audio interview

  • Tom Mercer

TM = First, we’ll need to monitor the towns’ budget situation closely throughout the year as the Town Administrator and Superintendent build their budgets. I’d expect that we would have a reasonable number in late January. My guess is the next Town Council and School Committee will have to discuss an override, how much and for what and what the community strategy may be.

At this point, I support and hope a discussion will occur next year on discussing with taxpayers a revenue increase. As the Town Administrator has stated numerous times, the cost of doing business is far exceeding our ability to raise revenue. Construction costs, personnel costs and Heath care costs are increasing at a rate that has put stress on the system relative to service demand. It’s a partial symptom of a good economy for sure. And it’s something we need to really engage a wider audience in the community on. Everyone will need to be involved. As ultimately any override is a decision made by the Community as a whole not the Town Council. It is the Town Council’s job to provide the community with all the facts so they can make an informed decision.

  • Andrew Bissanti

AB = I think ultimately what's going to happen is the council is going to push the override to a ballot and let the people decide. That seems to be rhetoric from the existing council right now. I think it's only fair that way. I want to make a rational decision. How it's going to affect dollars, and the people of Franklin. Whatever the greater good is for Franklin. I don't want to see services to the town and infrastructure suffer. Careful study and examination and reporting will and is being conducted and we will have more facts soon.

  • Robert Dellorco
Audio interview

  • Matt Kelly
MK = So I'm on the budget subcommittee and I'm probably one of the more vocal people on the budget subcommittee. I know I didn't make any friends with the School Committee when I told them that I didn't necessarily agree with their budget. Councilor Mercer and I are the only two that were on the School Committee prior to being on the Town Council. I wish there was a prerequisite so that everybody would have to do that because I think you learn a lot.

Looking at the budget, I don't think we're ready for an override yet and there's a number of factors for this. I don't see that the budget has all the fluff cut out of it and I don't see any clear projection of numbers. I agree, that our administration is telling the truth when they say that it's getting tight, but I also understand that a lot of people out there are getting tight on their budgets too. We need to look at what our plan is, is it a reduction in our budget, and an override? Who knows right now and now isn’t the time to ask our citizens either. We have to consider what this going to do to our senior population. That has increased tremendously for people in our town. People on fixed incomes, we need to look at what it will do to them as well. There needs to be a conversation with our town’s people before you start talking override.

That's the business side of it. The human aspect is that times are too good for people to believe that we need an override. We're adding firefighters, adding police officers and there's no visible pain. You might see that we need more DPW workers or your road isn't getting done fast enough, but people don't want to vote for things until there's pain, number one. Number two, when the people complain that they're going off to pay for high school parking, then town council comes running to their rescue and says, “oh, no, we're going to give you that money in the budget.” It's not the time for an override. We should be able to say to our citizens, we can't find any money before we say override.

The reality is, I am going to be very, very stingy when it comes to saying we need an override because I'm going to pay for it just like you are. 

*** School Committee

The School Committee candidates did not get that question. The questions they answered as shown here.
  • There are and have been many opportunities to volunteer with community groups in Franklin. Have you taken advantage of any of these? Which ones, and why did you choose that/those?
  • Where do you get your news about Franklin?
  • The possibility of a change in school start times was a recent controversial topic taken up by the School Committee. Where do you stand on the issue of school start times in Franklin and what actions do you plan to take around this issue during the next term of the School Committee?
  • While the current School Committee has attempted to reach the community through various forms of communication including coffee chats, email newsletters, attending events such as the farmers market, etc., they have been generally unsuccessful at increasing the engagement with important issues related to the schools. What actions will you take to increase citizen engagement with the School Committee?
  • The Town Administrator has suggested that the School Committee investigate the possibility of closing Davis Thayer Elementary as a possible cost-saving mechanism for the town in these tight economic times. Where do you stand on this issue and what actions will you take to support your stance?
  • Why should I vote for you?

The Election Collection can be found here

Franklin Election Collection - 2019
All precincts vote on Nov 5, 2019 in one location, Franklin High School


Friday, February 28, 2020

In the News: Bellingham to decide on a $1.5 million override; Franklin schools budget gap expected to close

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"Voters will decide in May on a $1.5 million override requested by the School Department for its fiscal 2021 budget. 
Selectmen last Saturday approved the override, meaning the proposal will appear as a ballot question at the annual town election on May 5. The measure requires approval from a simple majority of voters to pass. 
Superintendent of Schools Peter Marano said the school district is seeking the override to help compensate for a lower reimbursement expected from the state on charter school funding, as well as to add positions in areas of increased need. 
For the average homeowner, the $1.5 million override would result in property taxes being increased by about $160 in the next fiscal year, Marano said, based on a home value of about $325,000.
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

"The School Department anticipates “a budget gap to close” after reviewing its plans for fiscal 2021, requesting an increase of $3.9 million in funding from the town, according to Superintendent of Schools Sara Ahern. 
Reviewed on Tuesday night before the School Committee, the proposed school budget of $68,767,873 represents an increase of $3,909,373 (6%) over the current budget, said Ahern. Fiscal 2021 begins on July 1. 
The town’s total current budget is $129.6 million, with about half of it - $64.8 million - allocated to Franklin Public Schools. 
Even though the school district is requesting a $3.9 million increase for the coming year, Ahern said she doesn’t anticipate the town paying that entire amount."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

The live reporting from the School Committee meeting on Tuesday on the budget for FY 2021

Assume Town of Franklin gets $3m in expected revenue, with schools proposing an increase of $3.9m over last year we have a math problem
Assume Town of Franklin gets $3m in expected revenue, with schools proposing an increase of $3.9m over last year we have a math problem

Thursday, February 6, 2020

“no different shape than any other community”

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"In an effort to reduce the number of staff cuts while adding new positions to areas of increased need, the School Committee voted Tuesday in favor of a $1.5 million override to its proposed fiscal 2021 budget.

A major factor, according to Superintendent Peter Marano, is a “staggering” decrease in the amount of money reimbursed by the state for what the district pays toward charter school education at the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter School in Franklin.

“The reason why this year is different (than the last five years) is because we’ve basically taken a $2 million hit from the increase in the charter school, and that steep decrease in funding ... is basically just the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said committee member Mark Flannery.

As part of a $29.8 million proposed budget, the School Committee unanimously approved the $1.5 million override, which would cost the average homeowner about $160 a year, said Marano. That equals to $40 per quarter, said committee Chairman Michael J. Reed Jr., based on the average home value of about $325,000."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)


Thursday, August 29, 2019

"officials in town have said the override request was unlikely to be the last"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"The town avoided a budget crisis Wednesday, after residents approved a $430,000 tax override in a town-wide election.

The proposal was put to residents in a ballot question during an election called solely for the override.

Turnout was nearly 25 percent of all Hopedale’s registered voters, with 569 voting for the proposal, and 419 voting against.

Officials said the money is needed to fund basic services for the town. Because the number was so large, employee jobs and hours were on the chopping block. Suggested cuts included a firefighter and closing Town Hall on Fridays."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Related post before the override vote


Sunday, August 25, 2019

In the News: Hopedale votes on an override Weds; DOR has Prop 2 1/2 video series

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"Renee Polechronis walked away from her desk in the Assessor’s Office Friday morning with some paperwork.

When she returned moments later, fresh forms had been dropped off. Soon afterward, the phone rang. Before any of that, she had answered a resident’s question on senior citizen tax exemptions.

“I’m usually pretty busy on Fridays,” Polechronis, the office administrative clerk, said with a smile.

If Hopedale voters fail to pass the $430,000 tax override on Wednesday’s election ballot, residents might not have access to Polechronis’ cheerful attitude on Fridays.

Officials are asking for the money to bolster Hopedale’s operating budget, and have categorized the $430,000 as the amount needed just to keep basic services running. They aren’t yet sure where they’ll cut if voters don’t approve the override, but closing Town Hall the final day of the work week has made the list of possible partial solutions.
Residents overwhelmingly approved the override at Town Meeting this spring, but a majority vote in the townwide election is also required before the tax can be levied."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

The MA Dept of Revenue has a video series on Proposition 2 1/2 explaining overrides, debt exclusions, and other accurate info on this matter

Monday, June 24, 2019

The projected budget deficits for Franklin FY 2021 and beyond

The one page spreadsheet depicts the projected budget deficits facing Franklin for fiscal year 2021 and beyond. This page was part of the handout for the Joint Budget Subcommittee meeting on June 19, 2019. 

Plans have started for an override to be put before the voters for the FY 2021 budget. The specific amount and details remain to be finalized. The timing of the override vote also remains to be determined.

Agenda doc 

As acknowledged in the meeting, these numbers are projections. The rationale and timing for 'finalizing' the numbers is outlined by Town Administrator Jamie Hellen is captured in the audio recording of the meeting:

You can download a copy of the spreadsheet

Franklin FY 2021 and future projected budget deficits
Franklin FY 2021 and future projected budget deficits

Thursday, June 20, 2019

"We will need to consider an override on FY 21 to maintain level services"

In my rush to post the info for the Joint Budget Subcommittee meeting Wednesday evening, I had not noticed the document contained an updated 5 year fiscal outlook. Town Administrator Jamie Hellen lays out the numbers as they are and shows the budget vs. revenue forecast is red for the next several years. 

As the letter (below), explains this is not a new issue. To the Town's credit, the fiscal planning that has been in place for the last several years has avoided this inevitable choice. There is a 5 year plan. There was savings put aside in the debt stabilization account. This amount was then used in the past two years to avoid further cuts. The School Budget has used their revolving fund balances for the past three years.

Plans have started for an override to be put before the voters for the FY 2021 budget. The specific amount and details remain to be finalized. The timing of the override vote also remains to be determined.

"Please find attached the five year fiscal forecast. I would like to remind everyone this is a "forecast". It uses information from the past and present to predict the future. Similar to a weather forecast, there are many factors that will affect what will actually happen. The forecast shows deficits in each year, but the Town is required by law to have a balanced budget, so decisions will be made along the way to ensure we comply with the requirement. 
The takeaway message from all reports is that Franklin will continue to struggle to maintain high quality school and municipal services given the fiscal constraints that we operate under. In the long run, it will come down to a decision by the voters of Franklin to pay higher taxes or reduce the current level of services. The forecast shows that if the town wants to maintain the same service level it will need about a $4 million override for FY 21. This amount could change based on many unknowns and assumptions at this time, however I can't see any scenario that would not require additional tax dollars. 
In short, the cost of doing business is exceeding our ability to raise the necessary revenue to pay for the services we enjoy. I cannot put it more succinctly than that. 
This is not a new message. Over the past many years, we have both reduced services and increased taxes in order to arrive at the level of service the citizens enjoy today. Both the School Department and the Municipal departments have all made significant reforms to their operations to keep our tax rate low. We will never stop this effort and will continue to work within what the citizens give us to work with. 
We do know that: 

  • Our population has increased from about 30,000 in 2001 to over 35,000 in 2020 and it will continue to increase. Currently there are over 1,000 housing units recently constructed, under construction or in the "pipeline". 
  • Health/pension/insurance care costs continue to be a concern. 
  • Wage increases have been modest but they put a huge pressure on the budget. 
  • Our unfunded retiree health insurance obligation is $74,000,000 (2018). 
  • Our unfunded pension liability is $41,000,000 (2018). 
  • We do not have the funds to provide "level services for the FY 20 School budgets and the Town services.
  • We have no adequate funding source for roads/sidewalks. 
  • The Town's capital needs will continue to grow and in a couple years, the capital needs of our schools, facilities and fields will me in the millions. 
  • Water sewer rates will continue to rise due to long overdue infrastructure needs, mostly, for sewer and the Beaver Street Interceptor. 
  • Open space is at a critical state where with little land left, the Town will need to invest in open space, as well. 
Franklin is in generally good financial shape today but we will continue to struggle to maintain high quality school and municipal services given the operating fiscal constraints that we operate under. 
We are unable to maintain level service budget in FY 20 even with the use of reserves. We will need to consider an override on FY 21 to maintain level services for the citizens of Franklin. 
We will continue to do are very best on behalf of all the citizens of Franklin to maintain a high quality of life while trying to control costs to the taxpayers."

Continue reading the 5 year forecast

"We will need to consider an override on FY 21 to maintain level services"
"We will need to consider an override on FY 21 to maintain level services"

Friday, May 24, 2019

"This capital issue is significant, and not going away"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"The weather is warming, flowers are blooming and municipalities across the state are hosting Town Meetings, a form of local government dating back more than 300 years, which historically has given residents the opportunity to help decide on various issues related to local governance and spending. 
More recently, however, the scope of Town Meeting decisions has narrowed for many communities, and a lot of time is spent debating whether to fund new municipal projects, such as schools, libraries and senior centers. 
Approval of such projects typically translate into higher taxes for property owners, which advocates say is necessary to ensure dilapidating municipal buildings and outdated schools are safe and adequate for residents and children. 
Opponents, meanwhile, say the process is increasingly becoming a popular way for local governments to pay for projects that should otherwise be affordable within existing municipal budgets, especially at a time when local coffers are growing with the recent surge of new development and rising property values realized across the state."

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Editor's Note: An override is always a sensitive topic but we need to change that perception and have a real conversation about how we want to live here in Franklin. What services do we need? How should we support our schools? Repair our roads? 

The School Committee held Legislative Forums in both February 2018 and 2019 to start the conversation on some of the systemic problems that the State needs to correct. The Town Council chose not to include us in the public conversation until the second budget hearing. 

Next year is predicted to be another budget challenge. We need to have the conversation regularly from now until the budget cycle starts again. When we get together for the Strawberry Festival, the 4th of July, and other public events, part of the conversation should be around how we support ourselves.

Kit Brady speaking for better funding for schools and our children
Kit Brady speaking for better funding for schools and our children

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

On this day: May 22, 2007 Franklin voted for the first operational override

On this day, twelve years ago, 8759 Franklin residents went to the old high school field house to cast their votes for an operational override. The vote was successful and historic. 

While Franklin has successful passed debt exclusions for several school buildings (including most recently for the new high school in 2012), this was the only operational override passed.
"The votes came in to pass the first operational budget override in Franklin's Prop 2 1/2 history.
The final tally was 5,028 for and 3,722 against with 9 blanks and 8,759 total votes cast."

The override collection for the 2007 vote can be found here

Yes, this was the beginning of Franklin Matters. The domain and new website came online in November 2007. Links to the prior posts on my personal blog are still valid in the archive where needed.

Franklin failed to pass operational overrides in 2008 and 2010 and has not had a vote scheduled since that time. However, next year maybe an opportunity.

Franklin override collection for 2010 (FY 2011)

Franklin override info for 2008 (FY 2009) (not a single collection; I learned as I went along to do so)

On this day: May 22, 2007 Franklin votes for first operational override
On this day: May 22, 2007 Franklin votes for first operational override

Friday, May 10, 2019

"the declining enrollment helped us, as a community, be able to fund the services people expect”

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"A good economy should equal a sunny fiscal forecast. 
That’s what many residents believe, said Deputy Town Administrator Jamie Hellen, which is why a cloud of suspicion looms over the town budget’s structural deficit entering fiscal 2020. 
“A lot of people are frustrated. In such a good economy, and a great business climate, how are we in this pickle?” Hellen asked rhetorically. 
The answer includes many factors, some of which are not unique to Franklin, said Hellen. 
According to Hellen, the main culprits of the impending deficit include an increased demand for services, increased health insurance costs, charter school expansion costs, declining school enrollment, other post-employment benefits (OPEP) and the cost of doing business in town outpacing the town’s ability to raise revenue."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Other budget related info

Legislative update to Town Council on May 8

State level budget info

Charter School impact on budget

Inside the proposed FY 2020 budget

March 18 Finance Committee FY 2020 budget preview info (audio)

Prop 2 1/2 override process

Rising health care costs drive benefits
Rising health care costs drive benefits

How much is the School budget part of the whole Town budget
How much is the School budget part of the whole Town budget