Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Town Council Tax Hearing 1

The presentation by the Tax Assessors on 11/28/07 and their recommendation for the tax rate for FY 09

Time: 5 minutes, 42 seconds

MP3 File

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Tax rate hearing: Q&A

"This is a deceptive piece of information... not apples to apples, oranges to oranges.."
said by Judith Pond Pfeffer in reference to the discussion around the information provided on assessed value versus sales price of local business/commercial properties since 2005.

Where in Franklin? #20

Where in Franklin? #20, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Let's see if you can identify this building.

The guidelines to play "Where in Franklin?" can be found here.


Before setting the tax rate

With the library leaking and the museum headed for a new downtown home, the Finance Committee recommended last night that money for the projects be taken from a fund dedicated in the past to open space.

The fund currently holds $1.6 million and is drawn from the town's hotel/motel tax. While that money would remain earmarked for open space, upcoming earnings from the current fiscal year would go to the library and the museum under a plan proposed by Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting and recommended by the Finance Committee.


Since the Finance Committee is an advisory group, the Town Council is expected to discuss the museum and library tonight (Wednesday 11/28/07). To use the hotel/max tax for purposes other than open space, the council must make a final decision before setting the tax rate.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Town Council Meeting - Important Agenda Items

Given the recent discrepancy found in the school budget, the agenda calls for correcting this imbalance.

The Finance Committee met tonight as well as the School Committee. I chose to attend the School Committee meeting. We can depend on Michael Morton of the Milford Daily News to report on the FINCOM meeting.

A brief discussion with some members of the FINCOM after their meeting seemed to indicate they propose for the shortfall to be split between the Town and the Schools. The Town piece would be covered by the not yet certified "free cash" (in the mean time from the stabilization fund) with the School piece to be absorbed with additional budget cuts.

Yes, the schools already took a 2.1 Million cut (as the override only covered 2.4 of what they requested) and will apparently need to absorb another $300K.

We'll see what the Town Council does Wednesday 11/28/07.

The scheduled agenda can be found here (PDF file).

Michael Morton's recap of the Finance Committee meeting can be found here.

Franklin School Committee Statement 11/27/07 (audio)

The statement made by the Franklin School Committee regarding the budget shortfall just revealed as read by Chairperson Jeffrey Roy at the meeting 11/27/07

Time: 2 minutes, 53 seconds

MP3 File

an image version of the statement is available here
the text version of the statement is available here

School Committee Statement 11/27/07 (image)

A image of the statement as read by Chairperson Jeffrey Roy Tuesday night at the School Committee meeting regarding the financial discrepancy just discovered.

School Committee Statement 11/27/07 (text)

Statement for November 27, 2007 Meeting

During the process of closing the financial books for the 2007 fiscal year, the Town Comptroller discovered irregularities in the school district’s accounts. Specifically, several 2007 expenses were charged against the 2008 budget. This practice is not allowed under Massachusetts Municipal Finance Law.

The Franklin School Committee, in conjunction with the Town Council, immediately ordered a complete legal and financial review of the circumstances surrounding these irregularities. Our effort includes an independent professional audit covering fiscal years 2005, 2006 and 2007.

In addition, the school district’s finance director has been placed on administrative leave.

Preliminary information indicates that these accounting irregularities may result in a shortfall of approximately $590,000 in the budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2007.

However, the internal review and independent audit are still ongoing and the precise circumstances of the problem will not be known until both are completed. We expect the results to be presented to the School Committee and the Town Council sometime in mid to late December.

On the advice of our attorney, the School Committee and School Administration will not discuss this matter publicly or privately until such time as the review and audit are completed. Further discussion before then could create significant budget, legal and personnel issues for the schools and the town that would jeopardize efforts to understand the full circumstances of the situation.

Members of the School Committee and School Administration take this matter very seriously, which is why we have initiated a comprehensive review and audit and took the personnel action we did. We will provide a full legal and financial accounting as soon as possible after the detailed results of the investigation are completed.

Isabella's Menu - Page 2

Isabellas_2a, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Isabella's is also a good supporter of local groups and organizations. For a period of time one day during the week, they'll share a percent of the sales. As I go by almost every day coming from the train station, on most days there is a sign up for one group or another.

This is a win-win situation. Good food for a good cause!

Isabella's Menu - Page 1

Isabellas_1a, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Isabella's is one of the really good delis and pizza places in Franklin.

We got two full sheets of pizza for the Friday when the Sherlock's gathered at our place after Thanksgiving and did not end up with any leftovers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Next School Committee Meeting - Tuesday, 11/27/07

Given the recent news about the shortfall discovered, Finance person suspended, investigation and audit underway; I don't think I will trust the cable network to deliver the next meeting to my door.

I plan on being there in person to hear more about what happened.

We are not the only Franklin!

Exploring the web, I found another Franklin Matters which covers Franklin, Tennessee.

One post on this blog shows a listing of 27 other Franklins in these United States. We are the second largest according to population:
Give the other Franklin Matters a visit.

Franklin, WI had come upon the radar during our override election earlier this year. Franklin, WI had a similar override and it failed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Norfolk NOGO struggling

In brief, two of the key members of the Norfolk Organization for Government Oversight (NOGO) are now sitting on the Advisory Board helping to review financial decisions before the town. NOGO was originally organized as the Norfolk Opposition Group to Overrides and reformed after the override passed.

The Boston Globe Override Central web site has this story in more detail here.

I like the acronym they came up with (NOGO) :-)

Where in Franklin? Answer #19

Where in Franklin? Answer #19, originally uploaded by shersteve.

I guess you could not figure out where to go to "Relax, Renew, Revive". Original photo can be found here.

I was surprised myself when I stopped and realized what the sign actually read. I go in this doorway almost weekly for our family food shopping. I like doing the food shopping but I don't go there to "relax, renew, revive". Do you?

Say tuned for the next challenge!

Holiday Lighting 4:00 - 6:00 PM Sunday 11/25/07

The annual Holiday Lighting on the Common will take place this afternoon at 4 p.m. on the Franklin Town Common.

Presented by the Committee for Concerts on the Common, the festivities will include lighting up the Town Common holiday lights and displays, refreshments and goodies, and a visit from Santa and the elves. A special attraction this year will be having a free picture taken with Santa, ready to be taken home.

In case of inclement weather, the festivities will take place across the street in the Ben Franklin Charter School.

Donations to help defray the cost of decorating may be sent to Concerts on the Common, P.O. Box 92, Franklin, MA 02038 or call 508-528-2206 for more information.

From the Milford Daily News