Friday, September 5, 2008

"Somebody with the energy and enthusiasm"

Posted Sep 04, 2008 @ 11:26 PM
Last update Sep 05, 2008 @ 12:48 AM


In the wake of sizable layoffs, program cuts, increased fees and, most recently, Superintendent Wayne Ogden's resignation announcement, the school community must remember its pursuit of greatness, School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy said.

Many are disappointed Ogden is leaving at end of the school year, he said, but district leaders "still have a job to do," he said.

"One person can't make or break a district. We have 1,000 employees in Franklin public schools, and every person is an integral part of that team. It doesn't rise or fall on one person's shoulders.

"A really good leader can leave the team and (still) have a great system in place. I think we have that leader and that team," said Roy.

read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Financial Planning Committee - my summary

I was quite pleased with the meeting tonight. I was concerned after the no shows from the meeting on 8/21/08. This group still has it's work cut out for them but I think they have the proper approach.

I suggested to them to work through each item, obtain the numbers and the in's and out's of the various options as the department heads come to present. Be careful to not get wrapped into trying to solve the problem. Focus on gathering the information. Once it is all together, then you can look at making some sense of it and starting to tell the story. An hour for each department will not be enough if you try to solve the problem as you go.

Jeff's statement that in MA we have two choices (continue to increase taxes to pay for services, or cut services) is not understood or accepted. There will be a major challenge in painting the picture so that each person can see what the impact is for them. For the school family, for the senior citizen, for the driver on the road being constructed. Each will need to understand the issue of this is what we get for this amount, or this is what you get for that amount.

Live reporting - wrap up

Citizen 1 (name to be provided later) made reference to the Arlington plan, building confidence with the Town, trust. Look at the five year goals. Police, ambulance; I don't notice those.

Stacy Bower: I did like to see more residents here. Can the meetings be televised? People don't know what you are doing.

Jeff: Usually will bump up against the Zoning Board which has the Council Chamber.

Steve: It is a good idea.

Jim: Our game plan is to do some public forums.

Sep 18th next meeting

live reporting - process continued

Jeff: state aid will be very lean next year

Jim: they might also repeal the income tax

Jeff: that would be a disaster and relatively easier to deal with

Doug: if level service would lead us on a trajectory that would endanger us with accreditation

Wayne: we are already on probation for the high school facility, we are notifying them of the teacher cuts which may change that status. The school committee was notified of this.

Jim: come from with a level service budget beginning

Doug: two options, really. one with level service, two what would we propose to cut to maintain the budget within the level allowed.

Jeff: this is the potential menu, one or more of these scenarios will get us to the number

Gwynne: if you cut some number from roads, what does that mean for me. If you could say that the work on Daniels instead of being completed in 2009 would be completed in 2012, that might be more meaningful. That is just an example.

Doug: even loosing 17 teachers tells most folks nothing

Jeff: we had 50 police officers in 2001 and we have 42 today. Did you see that? It is really hard to show that to the average citizens.

Wayne: in 2002 I had 500 teachers, this year we have 430 with 350 more students. This is more easily shown

Rebecca: it would be easier to tell the school story, everyone either has someone in the schools or knows someone with one in the schools. this is a family town

Wayne: only 33% of the households have children in the school system

Doug: it has to be more than numbers on paper, it has to be the "so what does it matter"

Jeff: I have asked the department heads for that, it doesn't need to be much but it needs to be at least a bullet item

Gwynne: are there examples from other towns where there were cuts in police and fire and the crime rate rose, etc.

Deb: I don't know that I need to justify every police or fire person when it is a town problem.

Doug: maybe some standard, in response time for police and fire; accreditation for the schools, etc. and by those standards, the metrics could be shown where Franklin relates. What are the metrics we could use?

Jeff: there is no long term answer, there is either more taxes or less services in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Every once in a while we may skip a year of the Legislature is generous. There is a minimum level of education required by the law. If you want to maintain the minimum, then other services will be cut to maintain the level.

Deb: some solutions may come out of this, that I my hope

Steve: I hope so

Deb: why can't the inventory of the school library books be counted as part of the town library? if it requires major changes, where do we go to start that process.

Shannon Zollo arrived late

Live reporting - process discussion

Doug Hardesty, Steve Whalen, Rebecca Cameron, Deb Bartlett, Jim Roche, Gwynne Wilschek, Shannon Zollo (late)

Not Present:
Matt Kelly, Roberta Trahan

Adjunct members present:
Jeff Nutting, Wayne Ogden

Discussion on charter for group.

Discussion on the minutes for meetings of June 11, July 10, August 7.
Motion made an approved by unanimous vote to accept minutes.

Discussion on how to gather information on the budget
Jeff is meeting with the Town department head next week to finalize their planning contribution to the discussion. They are developing a model with historical numbers and forecasts based upon known items and capital requirements.

Jim suggested 2 departments per meeting and 1 for the school department

starting with the current budget with additional color explanation with some outlook
A modest increase for me maybe different than someone else would be looking at

The school department took the hit this year that no other Town departments did.

Jeff: need to look at staff assumptions, wage assumptions, student population, High School renovate or replacement, energy assumptions... these type of items need to be looked at

Everyone tends to forget that the schools lost 20 plus positions and the override passed.

The library had a budget several years ago of 900,000. This year they are at 700,000.

Wayne: can provide the information according to the questionnaire Jeff sent to the department heads. I would refer to get a little more guidance to bring the appropriate info to the table.

Steve: I can appreciate that your situation is different and maybe you do need a little more guidance.

Jeff: you need at least a baseline for last year and this year, then the committee can build upon that the assumptions and models to determine what it would look like.

Rebecca: Within 2 1/2, there is very little room.

Jeff: if you stay within the 2 1/2, we need to keep it simple and outline what it would take to stay within.

Rebecca: people don't understand what the details are.

Steve: how do we bridge the gap to get a good discussion when you bring the numbers to the table

Deb: I don't want anyone to bring forth a budget number that would further degrade the level of town services.

Doug: we don't have to make the decision, we need to outline the range of options upon which someone can make a decision

Live reporting - Financial Planning Committee meeting

There will be a quorum tonight

Town Council Mtg Summary - 9/3/08

The summary of reports concerning the Town Council meeting of 9/3/08

TOWN COUNCIL - Agenda - 9/3/08

Harvest Festival - 9/21/08

Harvest Festival - 9/21/08

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Live reporting - Administrators report, Councilor comments

Nutting - provided an update on the real story at the Horace Mann complex, a leak not an explosion caused the problem.

Making steady progress on the Norfolk water issue, hopefully we'll get a check at the cut off date so hopefully all things will end well.

Reviewed cell phone usage, reduced minutes by over 6,000 per month.

Old business:
Doak - web site
Nutting - next meeting

New business:
Bartlett - ridership increase if GATRA makes the accomodations

Councilor Comments:
Whalen - Supt resignation, got a wide variety of responses from the town residents. I worked closely with him over the previous months on the override campaigns. When I read his resignation, I was sympathetic. When you deny that person the resources to pursue their talent and interests, then this is not a surprise. I hope we figure out a way to reverse course.

Mason - On the Supt resignation since it was brought up, basing his resignation on the belief that the citizens have backed away from education is stupid and an insult. I don't know of a Franklin voter who voted no intentionally to give up on education.

Pfeffer - also had some negative comments on the resignation

Live reporting - Parking study

2,088 striped parking spaces available
additional unstriped 2 hour parking spaced

77,8 believe there are problems with parking

There is a perception that there are problems when with a little walk there are available spaces available. Can we increase the spots in specific areas? How else can we help to address the perception?

Rarely are more than 80% of the metered spaces utilized.

Bartlett - is there still discussion amongst the businesses to improve the walking within the downtown?
Taberner - while there was good discussion before, I am not sure that has been a current discussion. There is no consensus on a resolution to parking.

Whalen - There is good news on the availability of spaces. It may just be an awareness campaign that is needed.
Taberner - if the town does go down the road of bricks and mortar we should only go forward with businesses as a partnership to share the expense.

Live reporting - presentation on DP&CD

Brian Taberner, Director of Department of Planning and Community Development
Beth Dalhstrom also present at the meeting

Open space and recreation plan due for public review in October 2008

Affordable Housing plan due for 2010

Zoning bylaws
  • Non-conforming use bylaw due to Town Council in 2-4 weeks
  • Sign Bylaw revisions to follow
  • Inclusionary bylaw to follow

Commonwealth Capital
Avg score 76.5, Franklin score 102. Currently only 11 communities have a higher score

Doak - What are the top things that are driving that score?
Taberner - an aggressive and proactive policy development is driving that, will be tougher to get a hig score each year as we go forward. It looks at what you are doing now, not what you did before.

Create a community where entrepreneurs will want to settle and raise their families
Bartlett - given the recent major layoffs, will that pattern affect this?
Taberner - yes, not directly but yes
Nutting - yes, declines in education will cause property values to decline

Nu-Style Property, Grove St
  • may get a brownfields grant to help in this

Town owned properties
working on unresolved parcels and tax title properties

Four Corners: just about ready to go to the Planning Board and begin that process

Business outreach - don't have the resources to go out and attract specific businesses to Franklin. No longer have the Downtown Manager position to do this.

Industrial zone - substantial opporuntity
900,000 sq ft either empty or underutilized

We want to identify and work with the owners to get the property occupied and generating more revenue than it was before.

Downtown Revitilization plan
  • continue to work with the Downtown Partnership
  • establish an image and identiy
  • Promote Franklin as a Historic Commercial District
  • Create and promote Cultural Corridor including a historic walking trail
Bike racks - reimbursable project, need ideas for locations

Public transit - EMC interested, meeting with GATRA later this month to explore options

Live reporting - Zoning bylaw

  • Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-625: Chapter 185-5:Zoning Map: Business to Commercial II- 1st

resumed after recess


Vallee - the business zoning is already set for allowing a number of items

Doak - I worry about things going bad and something else coming in with the change and we wouldn't be able to stop it.

Taberner - this is the ideal zoning for that area.

Nutting - Condos are a good thing for the town. One where there were 1200 residents and 22 students was a favorable deal for the town.

Approved for second reading (unanimous)

Live reporting - rezoning bylaw moved to 2nd Reading

  • Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-625: Chapter 185-5:Zoning Map: Business to Commercial II- 1st Reading
Motion to move to second reading, under discussion

Vallee - I won't for that bylaw until they tell me what they are going to do with that.
Nutting - I heard that they are attempting to get a car dealership in there.

Doak - I share Vallee's concern. I don't think we should change this to open an opportunity for housing or a car dealership.

Nutting - intent is to take a piece of property that does not pay taxes and turn it into a paying property.

(two minute recess)

Live reporting - Resolutions approved

  • Resolution 08-56: Establishing an Economic Opportunity Area
  • Resolution 08-57: Authorizing Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
Further to the Economic Opportunity Area being passed above, there is interest in obtaining the Tax Increment Financing.

Foundation tax collection does not change, the proposal is to provide a tax reduction for the improvement. With the improvements come 200 manufacturing jobs being relocated here from Holliston and RI.

By doing so, the owner would also get state tax credit. If he doesn't do the investment, he doesn't get the tax break.

Approved - unanimously

Live reporting - Street opening bylaw


  • Street Opening Bylaw – Gas Conversions
Doak - can we use discretion to do this instead of changing the bylaw?
Nutting - No, that is a slippery slope.

Whalen - I disagree, I think we are in unchartered waters here. The spot market for home heating and gas prices are still higher than they have been. Anything that we, the Town Council, can do to help our citizens get through this period we should.
Brutus - In an emergency, it is a formality to provide a permit where there is a gas leak. It is between the owner and the gas company (or other utlity company) to repave the street.

Whalen - they are digging up Charles River Dr, what is that for?
Brutus - Verizon is putting in FIOS there. It is permissible because of the age of the road.

Vallee - We have to protect the roads. I helped work this bylaw. It needs to be tightened.
Brutus - the builder had the option to tie in when the road was being done. Others in the development tied in at that time. It is unfortunate that he happened to buy into the property after the opportunty came and went.

Bartlett - How does a road degrade?
Brutus - good recap of the life of a road. (will do more justice with the recording of this later).

Bartlett - What did Maple St cost us?
Brutus - About $350,000 for the top, it was another about 500,000 for the water lines.

Pfeffer - how much was the overlay on Summer St?
Brutus - about $47,000 for that portion.

Zollo - How many requests of this type have come in during the past year?
Brutus - About a couple of dozen.

Vallee - I didn't think we paid that?
Brutus - no it was a betterment fee. The Councilor asked how much it cost and it did cost that amount. We did not pay it.