Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gov Patrick, Salem, and Franklin's situation

Governor Patrick, cutbacks and the saga in Salem

As the city of Salem roils over layout notices, and other towns struggle with tight budgets, Gov. Deval Patrick told municipal leaders Friday that he feels their pain. Patrick said he understands that they are experiencing tight fiscal times.


Click through to read the details in this Override Central story in the Boston Globe.

Franklin is not that far away from Salem in this case. Financial mismanagement created their shortfall. The Forensic Report was presented Wednesday night to the joint Town Council and School Committee, as I re-read the report and listen to the presentation again, I am not convinced that we are out of the woods on this episode.
"The deficits in 2006 and 2007 raise concerns over the School Department's level of spending in fiscal 2008. There will be more Circuit Breaker available in 2008 than in 2007, as there is no carry over deficit to be applied to the 2008 expected receipts. However, there was a deficit in Special Education Tuitions even with the full Circuit Breaker receipts for both fiscal 2006 and 2007.
In addition, certain other accounts have been in deficit during both fiscal 2006 and 2007. We have prepared the three-year budget analysis, and provided a copy to the interim Director of Financial Operations. That analysis will assist in identification of potential budget shortfalls. However, the schedule is prepared based upon the inclusion of negative revenue items, which needs to be taken into consideration in evaluating the 2008 budget."
From the Forensic Report, page 10. Bold for my emphasis.

Mr Sullivan - Part 4 (audio)

Mr Sullivan discusses the accounting for the Medicaid reimbursement which even after the transfer of some expenses to other accounts still has a deficit. He summarizes the total deficit as

Attrition impact - $200,000
Medicaid double posting - $300,000
Athletics revenue deficit - $150,000
Insurance deficit - $195,000
Tuition deficit - $671,898
Total - $1,516,898

Appropriation surplus - ($662,296)

Final deficit - $854,602

This section includes questions and comments with Bartlett, Feeley, Nutting, and Susan Gagner - Town Comptroller.

Time: 6 minutes, 15 seconds

MP3 File

Mr Sullivan - Part 3 (audio)

Mr Sullivan reviews the details of accounting for attrition. Attrition is expected. School departments can take advantage of it. Franklin had used anticipated savings in attrition to help prepare the budget up until Fiscal 2008.

This portion includes Q&A with Councilors Whalen, Feeley, McGann, Pfeffer, Doak, and School Committee Chairperson Jeff Roy.

Time: 9 minutes, 36 seconds

MP3 File

Friday, January 11, 2008

Joint Town Council/School Committee Meeting Summary - 1/9/08

The opening remarks by the Attorney (audio) Mary Joann Reedy

Mr John J Sullivan, CPA explains the findings - part 1 (audio) (initial deficit and circuit breaker accounting)

Mr John J Sullivan, CPA explains the findings - part 2 (audio) (using negative line items)

First set of questions for Mr Sullivan (audio)

Mr John J Sullivan, CPA explains the findings - part 3 (audio) (accounting for attrition)

Mr John J Sullivan, CPA explains the findings - part 4 (audio) (Medicaid reimbursement)

Mr John J Sullivan, CPA explains the findings - part 5 (audio) (covering the deficit)

Mr John J Sullivan, CPA explains the findings - part 6 (audio) (more questions on the deficit)

Mr John J Sullivan, CPA explains the findings - part 7 (audio) (last questions on deficit, Falvey tries to speak for the first time)

Mr John J Sullivan gets to the recommendation section of the report, first: hire the right skill set (audio)

Mr John J Sullivan gets to the recommendation section of the report, second: School Committee approves budget transfers (audio)

Mr John J Sullivan gets to the recommendation section of the report, third: Concerns over 2008 budget (audio)

Mr John J Sullivan gets to the recommendation section of the report, final: multiple items (audio)

After the recommendations there is a series of Q&A sessions

Q&A 1 - Whalen, Pfeffer (audio)
Q&A 2 - Zollo (audio)
Q&A 3 - Jeff Roy (audio)
Q&A 4 - McGann (audio)
Q&A 5 - Doak (audio)
Q&A 6 - Cafasso (audio)
Q&A 7 - Bartlett (audio)
Q&A 8 - Gagner, Feeley (audio)
Q&A 9 - Frank Falvey (audio)

meeting took a break for 2 minutes, the School Committee left, the meeting resumed with the normal Town Council agenda

Tax & Title properties (audio)

Four Corners RFP (audio)

Three items: Exemption for police to be FHS coaches, snow budget almost expended, Fire station will be ready early but doesn't have budget to do so (audio)

Old & New Business (audio)

Councilor closing comments (audio)

The full audit report is available on the Franklin Schools page (left menu item) or via this link (PDF). Note, the PDF file is quite large, it may be slow opening depending upon your connection.

This completes the recordings for the meeting 1/9/2008

In the News - Molasses, twin violins, financial fiasco

Franklin Library looks to get town On the Same Page

By Michael Morton/Staff writer

At first, library staff worried that an initiative to get all residents to read the same book on a sugarcane product would prove slower than molasses.


Music in double time

By Heather McCarron/Staff writer

Sasha and Sally Gorski share a lot in common, not the least of which is a passion for music. And every day, they get double the pleasure out of pursuing it.


Franklin financial fiasco prompts more criticism

By By Michael Morton, DAILY NEWS STAFF

FRANKLIN - With the inquiry into a $580,000 budget gap over, school officials say they are moving forward by instituting new oversight controls and seeking a finance director to replace the recently fired Delores McCoy.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

First Set of Questions (audio)

Mr Sullivan pauses to answer several questions from Councilors Doak, Bartlett, Zollo, Pfeffer, and Feeley.

Time: 8 minutes, 33 seconds

MP3 File

Mr Sullivan: Explains the problem - Part 2 (audio)

Mr Sullivan continues his detailed explanation of the findings covering the negative line items in the budget up to the June 2007 report without a cover letter.

Time: 8 minutes, 25 seconds

MP3 File

Mr Sullivan Explains the problem: Part 1 (audio)

John J Sullivan, CPA explains the audit findings in great detail. This section covers the initial Fiscal 2006 deficit, the circuit breakers, and starts to review the negative line accounting.

Time: 10 minutes, 39 seconds

MP3 File

Opening Remarks by Attorney (audio)

The opening remarks by Mary Joann Reedy, Attorney highlighting the findings of the forensic audit.

Time: 3 minutes, 34 seconds

MP3 File

Updated 1/19/08 with attorney's name obtained from the full copy of the Forensic Report

Details on the Forensic Report

The school finance director, recently fired for improper budgeting, did not hold the state certification required for her job, a town councilor indicated last night while discussing the results of an inquiry.

Referring to former Finance Director Delores McCoy, Councilor Joseph McGann asked whether the town had erred by not employing someone in the post with Department of Education certification.

He was told by auditor John Sullivan of Melanson Heath & Co. that the qualification is required unless the state grants a waiver. The DOE does not appear to have done so in this case.

Read more in Michael Morton's write up in the Milford Daily News

School Finance Director let go, basketball hoop falls

School finance director fired after budget mishap

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

Finance Director Delores McCoy has been fired as a result of an investigation into school finances, according to a letter released ahead of tonight's Town Council meeting.


Basketball goal crashes down

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - A recently repaired basketball goal at the high school unexpectedly swung down from its raised position near the field house's ceiling yesterday, crashing into the bleachers before a game but missing spectators.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Joint Town Council - School Committee - Part 2

TC_SC_80109b, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The second picture of the joint Town Council and School Committee to hear the Forensic Report.

Joint Town Council - School Commitee

TC_SC_80109a, originally uploaded by shersteve.

All hands (well almost) were on deck for the joint Town Council and School Committee meeting to hear the Forensic Investigation Report.

This is one picture of the group.
There is a second picture available.

The report audio will be available here this week.
The report will also be available on the town web site soon.

Attention Franklin Train Commuters

Amtrak strike would rock T

By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff

The threat of a national Amtrak strike later this month is prompting Boston-area transit officials to prepare for potential chaos on commuter rail lines that would trickle down to subways, buses, and highways.

In part from the article, we read:

A strike would virtually shut down South Station, forcing rail passengers to transfer onto subway lines at the Back Bay, Braintree, and Forest Hills stations. The MBTA would also have to shut down the Providence/Stoughton Line in all likelihood, forcing about 17,000 additional daily commuters to drive into town or to take alternate rail lines. North Station schedules would not be altered, but riders might see picket lines.

"There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. A strike that would shut down service in and out of South Station would severely hamper, perhaps even overwhelm, the subway system," said Daniel A. Grabauskas, general manager of the MBTA.

The private company that runs commuter rail under a contract with the MBTA, Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., has been discussing contingency plans with the T and making recommendations that include running fewer commuter trains, virtually eliminating off-peak runs. The commuter service, which carries 72,000 riders in and out of Boston daily, is already drawing ire from passengers fed up with increasingly late trains.

No strike, a deal has been reached. Details here.

In the newspapers - Brick, Local Aid

Report: Majority of task force supports brick school

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff

FRANKLIN - The Brick School Task Force discussed its final report with the School Committee last night, with three members writing in the summary that their colleagues hadn't remained objective and had created a biased document.


Local aid plan on the rocks

A plan by cities and towns to get a larger slice of the state budget appears dead, according to State House News Service. That could put more pressure on municipalities to cut spending or ask voters for a Prop 2...