Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hopedale TM moves on regionalizing

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via The Milford Daily News News RSS by Melanie Graham/Daily News staff on 6/16/10

With the blessing of Town Meeting, the School Department will take another step toward regionalizing with the Mendon-Upton school district.
The School Department will now send three local representatives to be a part of a joint regionalization committee with Mendon-Upton, who said earlier this week they're ready to begin formal discussions with Hopedale.
Town Meeting also approved the rezoning of approximately 14 acres off South Main Street, said Town Coordinator Gene Phillips. The article, which was presented by developer Topsfield Associates, called for the land to be converted from residential to commercial.
In April, Big Y Foods Inc. announced it was interested in placing a supermarket on the rezoned site, which sits on land in both Milford and Hopedale.
The School Department's $75,000 mold clean-up bill also saw approval last night as well as the town's $17.97 million budget, Phillips said.
For more coverage read Thursday's print edition of The Milford Daily News. To subscribe, call 888-MY-PAPER. You can also buy an e-edition of the paper by clicking on the icon at the top of the site.

Things you can do from here:

What if?

Update: Google is having a problem with the poll question, when it gets resolved, the question will return.

Based upon the discussion around the article in the Milford Daily News on Tuesday, a new poll question has been added to the center column.

The question asks if the override question had been phrased differently would the results have been different. In particular the question is:
If the override was split into 2 separate questions, would you have approved the school override? Q1 - $2.1 million for schools   Q2 - $900K for roads/the town

The article and full comment stream can be found here:

Franklin, MA

Construction alert: Chestnut St

Chestnut street from East Central Street (RT 140) to Chestnut Ridge Drive will be under construction starting June 21, 2010 for about four weeks.

Chestnut Street from East Central Street (RT 140) to Jordan Road will be closed to through traffic during normal working hours, starting June 28, 2010 for about five days. One lane is open to through traffic during the remainder of the construction.

Franklin, MA

EPA Storm water proposal information

Two meetings organized by the Environmental Protection Agency regarding designated discharge sites will be held in Franklin. Storm water discharges from these sites need to be controlled according to the Clean Water Act. The practical implication of this determination is that the owners of designated discharge sites will be required to obtain permits under federal law, and will be required to undertake actions to control the discharge of storm water from their properties.

On June 22, the first meeting will be held at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical School in Franklin from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., the EPA will briefly summarize the actions that it proposes.

Also on June 22, the second meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. The EPA will conduct a public hearing at which interested persons may make formal statements that will be entered into the legal record on the permit action.

The video of the initial EPA meeting on May 12th can be found here:

The handout from the prior EPA meeting can be found here:

Franklin, MA

Franklin, Medway - Library opportunities

A very good read on the opportunity to further combine the operations of the Franklin and Medway Libraries.

Franklin Medway Library Report - 5/04/10

In the News - trash bins arrive

By Ashley Studley/Daily News staff
Posted Jun 16, 2010 @ 01:38 AM
Over the next 10 days, 17,500 of the 65-gallon bins will be distributed, allowing for automated trash and single-stream recycling pickup.

Read the full article here

Franklin, MA

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Agenda - 6/16/10

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – June 2, 2020 Regular and Executive Session




E. APPOINTMENTS - Annual Committee Re-Appointments



H. PRESENTATIONS/DISCUSSIONS – Update of the New Open Meeting Law – Mark Cerel


1. Resolution 10-32: Ad Hoc Recycling Committee
2. Resolution 10-33: Acceptance of Gift Franklin Library
3. Resolution 10-34: Acceptance of Gift – Maintenance of Brick School
4. Resolution: 10-35: Appropriation – Unemployment Trust Fund
5. Resolution 10-36: Consolidation of School Maintenance Function With Town
6. Bylaw Amendment 10-646: Request for Sewer Map Amendment: Seven Lot Subdivision Off Beech Street at #23 – 2nd Reading
7. Bylaw Amendment 10-647:Request for Water Map Amendment: Seven Lot Subdivision Off Beech Street at #23 – 2nd Reading





O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required


The full agenda document can be found on the Franklin website (PDF)

Franklin, MA: Town official vehicle listing

Due to a comment that was making the rounds before the override that "everyone in DPW got a new vehicle", I asked for and received the following listing of vehicles from Jeff Nutting, Town Administrator.

The listing excludes the police fleet and the most of the DPW vehicles as those don't have a single user.

The Town positions which have a car, for overnight use or day use are listed with age and mileage.
Town positions without a vehicle but who do use their personal vehicle for Franklin business and thereby get an expense reimbursement are also listed.

Only one vehicle has a model year of 2010.

You can view the listing here:

Franklin MA Vehicles 100614

Or you can view the spreadsheet here:

If a municipal vehicle is taken home the employee is charged income at the IRS rate of $3 per day and must pay income tax on the benefit. Public Safety vehicles are exempt under the IRS code. There is no charge from the town to take the vehicle home. However employees are expected to responded in a timely manner to emergencies unless they are on vacation, etc. Accordingly each public safety department (except the building commission) has at least two employees that can respond asap. So if one is not available there is a backup. The DPW has more since they have more exposure - water, sewer breaks, failed pumps, alarms at stations, snow, storms, heavy rain, trees down, structural failure of things like culverts, roads, etc.

As far as personal use, the following quote is from a portion of the policy ' the vehicle is not to be used for personal purposes, other than commuting and de minimis personal use' An example of de minimis use would be stopping to buy a coffee, lunch etc.

Updated 6/16/10
Jeff Nutting has an annual vehicle allowance of $6,000 as part of his employment contract. He does not have a Franklin vehicle.

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin MAtters to view the document

Boston Sports Club Open House - Wednesday - 6/16/10

Franklin's Boston Sports Club will hold an open house on Wednesday, June 16th.

What happens during the open house?
Work out for free, prizes annd demos all day!

Where is the Boston Sports Club located in Franklin?
750 Union Street Franklin, MA 02038

View Larger Map

More on the BSC can be found on their website:

Boston Sports Club is a member of the United Regional Chamber of Commerce

Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: Food pantry garden bed

Stopped by the Food Pantry on Monday to see how their raised garden bed was doing. It is doing well!

Other garden bed activity is reported on here:


and here:

In the News - strawberry fest, layoff notices, dog licenses

Franklin strawberry bash to be held Thursday

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin proceeds with layoffs

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin dog owners need license before July 1

Franklin, MA

Monday, June 14, 2010

Content within context

This is a relatively quiet week this week.

  • Cultural Council meeting Monday at 7:00
  • Historical Commission meets Tuesday at 6:30
  • Recycling Committee meets Wednesday at 6:30
  • Town Council meets Wednesday at 7:00
  • Board of Assessors meets on Thursday at 9:00 AM
  • Conservation Committee meets on Thursday at 7:15
  • School Budget Subcommittee meets on Friday at 7:30 AM

Take a few minutes (16 actually) to watch David Bryne talk about music's evolution as influenced by the architecture of each time/culture.

With context so important for the content, how do we create the proper context for a civil and honest discussion?

More on context and content here


and here:

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the video

Franklin, MA

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Refreshed: tax rate and split tax

This post has been refreshed. It was initially published on November 29,2009 in preparation for the Town Council meeting where the annual tax classification hearing would be held. As the tax rate and split tax is continuing to be an ongoing discussion, I want to bring this forward for the new readers and those who may have missed it the first time around.

The reporting from the Town Council meeting Wednesday Dec 9, 2009 can be found here:

This internet radio show or podcast is number 50 in the series for Franklin Matters. In this session, you give me about ten minutes and I'll fill you in on what matters in Franklin. In particular, we'll prepare for the Town Council meeting Wednesday (Dec 9, 2009) where the big item on the agenda will be the annual tax classification hearing

Time: 10 minutes, 47 seconds

Audio file ->

Session Notes:

This internet radio show or podcast is number 50 in the series for Franklin Matters.

In this session, you give me about ten minutes and I'll fill you in on what matters in Franklin.

In particular, we'll prepare for the Town Council meeting this Wednesday where the big item on the agenda will be the annual tax classification hearing beginning at 7:10 PM.

This is the time and place where the Town Council determines to keep a single tax rate or decides to implement a split tax rate.

I have reviewed the data provided by the Board of Assessors for this hearing. I have also spent some time on the Dept of Revenue website obtaining some historical data on Franklin's budget, tax rate, etc.

I have prepared a few slides to share some information that I think can help understand the overall situation to get ready for the meeting Wednesday.

Page 2 shows a table showing the residential vs. commercial/industrial property mix since 1999. It has varied a little each year but generally around 80% residential and 20% commercial/industrial. The high point for residential was 82.12 in 1988 and the low point was 77.04 in 1993.

Page 3 shows the same numbers in a chart format. As there is so little variance, I think this is more clear and understandable than the table of numbers.

Page 4 shows the tax rate as it has varied throughout the years from 1988 to 2009. I really shouldn't use a line to depict the point in time number for each year, but it is much easier to view the data this way. The tax rate high point was in 1997 when it was 14.21% and the low point (in the period shown) was 8.86% in 2007. I find it interesting that the tax rate has dropped for nine of the last twelve years and yet all you hear about is our tax problem?

Well, Page 5 more clearly shows what our tax problem is. The numbers on this chart depict the average tax bill for the period 1988 through 2009. As you can see from the reddish bars, in no year did the average tax bill decrease. The tax rate line from Page 4 is also shown here. Clearly, the tax rate whether it goes up or down seems to have little effect on the tax bill. It is always going up.

There are many reasons for the increases shown. I don't have all the information to explain nor do I have the time this week to do so. What I can show on Page 6 is how the assessed value effects the tax rate. The reddish bars in this case depict the NET change in assessed total value of all the properties in Franklin. Since 2006 the commercial industrial (CI) assessed values have been in a decline. In 2006 and 2007, the new grown for CI covered the decline in valuation so there was a net grown for CI. But for 2008, 2009 and for FY 2010, the new growth has not been able to cover the decline in valuation. More importantly, on the residential side, the decline in valuation has far exceeded the new growth. Hence the overall decline in total assessed values has dropped from 4.9 billion in 2007 to 4.3 billion for FY 2010. With less tax base upon which to levy the same amount of tax revenue, guess what, the tax rate will increase. The decline in overall assessed values has driven the increase for 2008, 2009 and will do so again in 2010.

Yes, I can hear some folks now saying “let's go with a split tax rate”. With kind of property mix we have, a split tax does not solve our problem. See, the split tax does not increase overall tax revenues, it only shifts the proportion of the pie that each party pays as shown on Page 7. For a single dollar decrease in residential property tax, the CI increase would need to be $4. We don't need to shift the tax burden from one to another. We need to grow the overall tax base. We need a bigger pie.

The best opportunities for grow come from the underutilized CI space we have. You should be aware of the efforts of Bryan Taberner and others in the Department of Planning and Community Development. They are busy working to market the attractiveness of Franklin for CI uses. This is where we need to develop. We don't need additional residential properties which would further burden the school system. We need healthy growth in CI properties to provide tax revenues and maybe even provide some jobs for local residents.

Page 8 and 9 provide information on the sources of the data that I used to prepare this. As well as contact information if you have any questions or would like to review this further.

One page in the appendix that charts the “free cash” to “free cash as a percent of the overall Town budget. At the end of the last council meeting, Judy Pfeffer asked Jeff Nutting for some information on the history behind “free cash”. I expect Jeff to come back with his answer but while I was putting together my analysis, I found these numbers at the MA DOR website that may help answer part of Judy's question. I think the current administration has done very well in reducing the fluctuations that can be seen over the years. The big spike in FY 2001 I believe is likely related to the settlement that the Town won. It ended up in “free cash” before the Town Council moved it to the Stabilization Fund. (Note: It is my mistake that this paragraph of text did not get recorded. It does go along with the one page that did make it to the appendix.)

For the week ahead:
  • Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday
  • Town Council meeting Wednesday
  • Holiday Stroll on Thursday sponsored by the Downtown Partnership

I would encourage you to participate in these events.

---- ---- ----

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but I can't do it alone. I can use your help.

How can you help?
If you like this, please tell a neighbor.
If you don't like this, please tell me.
Thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and East of Shirley. The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with permission.

Franklin, MA: in the mail this week

1 - The annual Consumer Confidence Report published by the Franklin Water Dept. arrived this week. The report covers 2009. The 2008 (and earlier reports) can be found on the Franklin website here:

2 - The DPW sent out the information flyer on the new solid waste (trash and recycling) process that will begin July 1. The flyer can also be found on the DPW website here (PDF) or viewed below:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the document

Franklin, MA

What small change can be made

What small change be made such that is has a great impact?

(Aside from getting folks to deal with accurate information rather than hearsay and misinformation.)

Interesting perspective posed here in this TED Talk from London:

I have advertised myself as Community Information Director, maybe I should consider shifting to Chief Detail Officer? This is a volunteer position in either case, unfortunately Franklin's budget problems couldn't support the role.

What do you propose?

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the video

Franklin, MA