Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Reminder - THE BLACK BOX: Big Band Brunch - March 3

The critically acclaimed Kenny Hadley Big Band returns to THE BLACK BOX for a Big Band Brunch on Sunday, March 3. The Kenny Hadley Big Band has shared the stage with such notables as the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra and has hosted guest soloists including Clark Terry and Louie Bellson. 

Brunch begins at 11:45 a.m., with music beginning at noon. Brunch provided by Intermission Cafe includes assorted Mini Quiche, Bacon, Waffles, Fresh Fruit, Yogurt & Granola, Bagels, Muffins, OJ and Coffee. In addition, there is a cash bar with Mimosas and Bloody Marys available.

Get your tickets online

THE BLACK BOX: Big Band Brunch - Mar 3
THE BLACK BOX: Big Band Brunch - March 3

Monday, February 25, 2019

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Franklin Fire Dept

The Department
The Franklin Fire Department is divided into two divisions: Operations and Maintenance, which is the largest and responsible for dispatch, emergency medical services, fire suppression and hazardous materials response. Administration and Support Services is responsible for personnel, budget and finance, training, code compliance and coordinating the Town’s emergency preparedness.

Our Mission
The mission of the Franklin Fire Department is to:
…Have a positive impact in the lives of citizens and visitors of Franklin in their time of crisis by providing compassionate, contemporary, community driven services.
…Safeguard human life from the perils of fire, sudden illness, injury or other emergency medical condition, natural and man-made disasters as well as preserve the environment and property from ensuing destruction.
… Be responsible for a safe, productive and pleasant work environment for our employees, and provide them opportunities to gain new skills and advance their personal career goals.

Operational Objectives
  • Initiating advanced life support to patients within 10 minutes of receiving the telephone call at our communications center.
  • To access, extricate, treat and transport and transport trauma patients to a level one trauma medical facility within one hour of the occurrence of the injury.
  • Interrupt the progression of fires in structures within 10 minutes of open flame ignition.
  • To insure response readiness remains greater than 70%.
  • Provide safety and survival skills for all school students in grade K through 5 consistent with the Student Awareness Fire Education (SAFE) initiative of the Commonwealth.
  • Provide educational opportunities for department members to insure optimal performance and safety.
  • To develop and maintain “best practice” to insure personnel and citizen safety.
  • Insure fire safety through timely, consistent code compliance services to all external customers.
  • Provide all department services in a manner that satisfies the needs of our customers.
  • Process emergency notifications in our dispatch center within 120 seconds of receiving the initial call for 99% of all calls.

Message from the Fire Chief
Fiscal Year 2018 again ended as the busiest year in department histories, breaking last year’s record a total of with 4,408 emergency responses. Fortunately, the community did not suffer any fire related deaths this year, although there were several tragic incidents which resulted in the loss of life. Department members suffer ten loss time work related injuries during the fiscal year.

This year saw the active engagement of our personnel in the development of specifications and standards on a host of issues, all intended to provide heightened levels of service to the citizens of Franklin. Personnel dedicated countless hours to develop specifications for the replacement of the department’s Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, replacement fire engine and replacement ambulance.

Work related cancer for workers in the fire – rescue services continues to be a cause for high concern. Multiple studies, including the soon-to-be-released NIOSH cancer study, have demonstrated credible evidence of higher rates of multiple types of cancers in firefighters compared to the general American population including:

  • Testicular cancer (2.02 times greater risk)
  • Multiple myeloma (1.53 times greater risk)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (1.51 times greater risk)
  • Skin cancer (1.39 times greater risk)
  • Prostate cancer (1.28 times greater risk)
  • Malignant melanoma (1.31 times great risk)
  • Brain cancer (1.31 times greater risk)
  • Colon cancer (1.21 times great risk)
  • Leukemia (1.14 times greater risk)

Work began last year will continue into the next and ensuing fiscal years to insure that we protect our members from this on-going epidemic.

We continue to see the number of calls for service that occur back-to-back or simultaneously grow at an alarming rate. Back-to-back or simultaneous calls are where the department receives another emergency call for service while managing a call for services (two at a time). In Fiscal Year 2018, this caused 144 ambulance responses from other Towns into Franklin. 

Although an improvement over the previous fiscal year, the use of out-of-town resources causes delay in our ability to provide timely transport to the hospital emergency room. Franklin’s average response time is 5 minutes, 44 seconds; the average response time for an out-of town ambulance is 12 minutes, 33 seconds – this time difference can have a great impact on the quality of patient outcomes for people with medical emergencies.

The trend of call distribution is compounded by the increasing calls for services. As previously noted, the department responded to 4,408 emergency responses in Fiscal Year 2018, an increase of more than 6% from Fiscal year 2017.

We believe the trend is in response to an upturn in our economy. This year saw increased occupancy rates in the Town’s Industrial Parks as well as opening of new businesses and facilities. All of these combine to bring more people into the community and increase the demands for our services. We will continue to monitor all of these trends and work with the community to develop strategies to maintain acceptable levels of emergency services within the Town.

This year saw the retirement of Firefighter Robert Donovan. Bob began his career with the department in 1988 and assisted in many department roles. Bob’s career with the department to including being among the first paramedics in the department and serving as the long time SAFE Officer completing fire safety education in the school system. We thank him all for his years of their dedication and service to the Town and wish him the best in retirement.

This year we welcomed new members James Polito, Brian Hamann, Matthew Starkey and Peter Ballou. All come to the department with a wide variety of experiences that strengthens our ability to provide services to the citizens of Franklin and we look forward to their long productive careers with the department.

In addition to emergency response, the department also continued to try to expand its fire prevention education activities, providing safety and survival education to the most vulnerable population to fire – our children and seniors. Through the dedicated efforts of SAFE Officer Keith Darling, the department reached over 7,600 individuals with safety related programming. This included 100% of all Elementary Students, summer YMCA Camps and various Boy and Girl Scout programs and tours as well as a various activities at the Senior Center. 

This year the department continued to offer home visit for our senior citizens and include 48 visits. The focus of these visits is to insure there are working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, remove trip hazards as well as provide safety education. Firefighters Kevin Marshal, Bill Blanchard and Christian Mills provide dedicated assistance in completing this important service to our citizens.

In closing, I would like to recognize our employees, who are among the best fire service professional in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts! They continue to work tirelessly to protect life and property within Franklin. In addition to their on-duty responses, our employees commit countless hours in continuing education and training targeted to maintain and improved upon their emergency skills. Additionally, they continue to press forward in attempt to provide the highest level of service to the community based upon advancement in the fire-rescue field and advancements in technology. They continue to be the chief reason for maintaining our current the level of success and level of services we provide our citizens of Franklin.

Respectfully submitted,
Gary B. McCarraher, Fire Chief

You can read the full Annual Report for 2018 online

The archive of prior year annual reports

The newest vehicle in the Fire Dept, part of the truck rotation and life cycle program. Franklin sets aside money in an account to save over several years for the next truck
The newest vehicle in the Fire Dept, part of the truck rotation and life cycle program. Franklin sets aside money in an account to save over several years for the next truck

Franklin, MA: Santa arrives 2011

The annual Santa Claus visit to the Town Common is sponsored by the Concerts on the Common.

Franklin, MA: Santa arrives 2011

or go directly to Flickr

Vera Meyer and the glass harmonica in 2011

Vera Meyer played the glass harmonica which had been invented by Benjamin Franklin. She play at the Historical Museum in January of 2011. She also returned in 2012, and 2013. Photos from those visits are also in the archive.

Vera Meyer - Glass Harmonica

or go directly to Flickr

On this date: Feb 25, 2013 - FPSA on the downtown sign

On the triangle downtown where East/West Central meets Main St, there used to be the sign advertising coming events. Back in 2013, the sign advertised an upcoming performance of "The Sound of Music"

"The signs at the downtown  triangle where West Central St and Main St meet at the railroad bridge have been changed recently. 
The Franklin School for the Performing Arts is advertising their production of "The Sound of Music" which will be held this Saturday, Mar 2 at 7:00 PM and Sunday Mar 3 at 2:00 PM. 
You can get tickets online at the FPSA webpage (the link to the show no longer works, instead the link drops you on the FSPA home page)

FSPA - "Sound of Music"

With the change to 2-way traffic on Main St, the large sign has been replaced with a smaller one. This sign has now been moved to the Fire Station where it continues to highlight coming events.

The new sign on the triangle in downtown Franklin
The new sign on the triangle in downtown Franklin
The sign moved to its new location at the Fire Station early one morning in December, 2018
The sign moved to its new location at the Fire Station early one morning in December, 2018

The link to the 2013 post:  

Reminder: The Delta Generators return to THE BLACK BOX - March 2

Blending Rhythm and Blues and Americana The Delta Generators will play at THE BLACK BOX on Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 8:00 PM. Opening act The DayBreakers

Featuring Brian Templeton, Charlie O'Neal, Rick O'Neal, and Jeff Armstrong, the Boston-based band blend the fine line between rhythm and blues and Americana in a way that makes them anything but average.

Tickets available at

THE BLACK BOX: The Delta Generators - Mar 2
THE BLACK BOX: The Delta Generators - Mar 2

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Finance Committee

Our fiscal year, which started July 1, 2016, began with a proposal to raise and appropriate $162,350 to continue full day kindergarten given state grant money was not received as expected. The committee approved unanimously a motion to recommend passage to the Town Council. We also were informed by the Town Treasurer the “Municipal Modernization Bill” was passed and will have a positive impact on various operations within the town.

During the year the committee met 8 times. Three of those meetings were focused on the Fiscal 2018 budget process, with the end result being the approval of a projected $120.5 million operating budget for the town. The budget allows for the town to provide services at the same level as FY 2017.

The long term financial plan projected continues to project financial challenges over the next 5 years. While our town continues to provide excellent services with little increase in resources, our reserve levels continue to be challenging. A concerning indicator is shown in the Franklin Public Schools need to draw on their reserves at an unsustainable pace. Housing units are projected to grow and the impact on the school budget is currently unknown and will need to be monitored on a regular basis.

The town continued our prudent practice of reserving funds to our OPEB Trust Fund, Fire Truck and Recreational Fields Stabilization funds.

Our town continues to invest in our public spaces, appropriating $0.5 million for general road and sidewalk maintenance. Additionally, snow removal exceeded the budget by $85K and the committee voted unanimously to fund the deficit from Free Cash.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my fellow committee members for their ongoing dedication to continued improvements and the financial well being of our town.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Dufour
Chairman, Franklin Finance Committee

You can read the full Annual Report for 2018 online

The archive of prior year annual reports

The Franklin Finance Committee plays a key role in the budget cycle. It is the one place where details from each department head are reviewed and discussed openly. The Town Council in recent years has avoided this practice and given only a cursory review to some key talking points depriving the residents of the full view that we used to get. 

Franklin budget cycle
Franklin budget cycle

For more info on the Franklin budget cycle

Parmenter Story Walk in 2010

An explore along the nature trail and now a story walk behind the Parmenter Elementary School, in Franklin, MA. These are a sample of the views along the walk in the fall of 2010.

Parmenter: Story Walk

or go directly to Flickr

On this date: Feb 24, 2012 - Wadsworth Diaries

We can take a double dip back in the archives on this day, as in 2012, I had shared the entry from the diary of George Wadsworth from Feb 24, 1858. 

Wadsworth Diary - Feb 24, 1858

"Very pleasant & cold in morn, 10 below zero Grew quite warm before noon. Went after F.M. Newell in morn. Father carried Mother to Uncle Richardsons & went after her at night. I helped Jos pack ice. Wm Miller, Wm Adams, Brockway & J. Pond helped. I (we) paid our taxes, first I ever paid. Cars late, got here about 10 3/4."

In the 1850s, on a busy working farm in the southern part of Franklin, a man named George Wadsworth started writing in a journal about everyday events. When he filled that journal, he bought another, and filled that up too. Two dozen journals, and 27 years later, he had written about almost everything that can happen in a small New England town. His words were lost to history until 1986, when town resident Gail Lembo came across some of the journals at a yard sale. 

From the Franklin Historical Museum website
An updated link to the diaries: http://www.wadsworthdiaries.com/

The stone remains of Wadsworth Station can be found at the intersection of the SNETT Trail and Spring St here in Franklin. The station back in its time was shown in this photo from the Historical Museum archives.

Wadsworth Station - at the intersection of the SNETT Trail and Spring St here in Franklin
Wadsworth Station - at the intersection of the SNETT Trail and Spring St here in Franklin

The link to the post in 2012

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Watch "The disarming case to act right now on climate change | Greta Thunberg" on YouTube

Worth a few minutes of time (actually about 11 minutes)


"Now we're almost at the end of my talk, and this is where people usually start talking about hope, solar panels, wind power, circular economy, and so on, but I'm not going to do that. We've had 30 years of pep-talking and selling positive ideas. And I'm sorry, but it doesn't work. Because if it would have, the emissions would have gone down by now. They haven't. And yes, we do need hope, of course we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. 
So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come."

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Conservation Commission

The Franklin Conservation Commission is responsible for promoting and protecting the natural resources of Franklin and protecting the town’s watershed resources. A large part of the Commission’s attention is directed to administering Massachusetts and Franklin wetland protection laws and regulations. Those laws and regulations require Commission permits to work in or within 100 feet of a wetland, in the 100 year flood hazard zone or within 200 feet of a perennial stream.

The Commission comprises seven volunteer residents appointed for three year terms by the Town Administrator. The current members of the Commission have diverse professional experience related to environmental science, biology, engineering, and project management. Because of their different backgrounds, each commissioner is able to offer a different perspective during the review of applications for a wetland permit that ultimately benefits Franklin.

Franklin has continuously been well represented at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions in March, with Commissioners attending classes and workshops and talking with other Commissioners from across the state as well as lawyers, ecologists and engineers active in conservation.

The Commission continues to work on the DelCarte Area (aka the Franklin Reservoirs) off of Pleasant Street. There are a series of seven structures (six dams that had been originally used for cranberry farming and a stone wall that beavers had dammed) along Miller brook thru the 100+ acre DelCarte Area. The Commission retained the services of ESS, Inc. to undertake an ecological study to ascertain the flora and fauna viability in the pond and develop a long term management plan. 

This study, completed in the winter of 2015-6 has for the first time given the town a comprehensive understanding of exactly “what is there” and has developed a management plan to help keep the area viable as a true recreational jewel. The first phase of the Plan’s recommendations, the treatment of invasive plant species was undertaken in the spring/summer of 2017 and phase two will be undertaken in the spring/summer of 2018.

The Commission has requested additional Capital Improvement funds to help implement the next phases of this study in 2018-2019 as well as funds to implement the ADA recommendations under the master plan developed for DelCarte by Mass Audubon. This later plan was presented to the Commission in the fall of 2017.

The Commission will undertake improvements to the DelCarte Recreation Area in the late summer/early fall of 2018 to bring access to the trails and the water bodies up to ADA standards and the improved the overall aesthetics of the area. The Commission applied for a 2018 Recreation Trails grant to also offset the cost of ADA improvements in the DelCarte Recreation Area.

The Commission collects application fees for all permits that come before them. These fees paid for, among other things, the studies on the DelCarte recreation area and thus allowed the Commission to truly understand the issues facing the town in maintaining this area for quality recreation.

Notice of pond treatment at DelCarte
The Commission has also initiated a comprehensive study of the beaver population and associated issues within the pond area to come up with best practices to prevent irreparable damage to the pond ecosystem and surrounding private properties. The results have been received and are being evaluated by the Commission.

Since the last annual report, the Conservation Commission has received 61 permit applications to work within areas under their permitting jurisdiction.

The Commission also issued 30 certificates of completion for various projects and granted extensions to allow projects to finish.

In late April, the Commission conducted the third annual clean-up days at the DelCarte Recreation area. The event was also attended by a number of citizen volunteers who lent valuable assistance and manpower in helping to maintain this valuable town resource.

The Commission completed studies on Chapter 61, 61A & 61B parcels within the town as well as a study on all Commission-managed town-owned land. These studies can be used by the town’s decision makers to better understand the implications of purchasing or not purchasing property that becomes available and how to best manage properties or parcels already owned by the town. Recommendations on some of the parcels currently managed by the Commission have been made to the Town Council.

The Commission also completed a study of all land under its management jurisdiction. This will allow the Commission to better evaluate how to manage these parcels and to determine if any additional parcels should be under Commission jurisdiction or if some should in fact not be and to make appropriate recommendations to the Town Council.

The Commission has developed a series of standard operating procedures and educational snippets, which are posted on the Commission’s website, to help the citizenry understand some of the rationale behind the Commission’s operations and procedures.

The Commission would like to draw the attention of the Town’s residents to the many protected natural areas in the Town and the opportunities for passive recreation they enable:
  • The DelCarte Area, with parking off of Pleasant Street, has improved walking trails through woodlands along a series of ponds. Two canoe launches and an above-water boardwalk that completely connect the trail system have been installed;
  • The town forest has access off of Summer Street and trails thru woodlands and across Uncas Brook.

Other trail areas, not under the jurisdiction of the Commission include:
  • Indian Rock has good access off of both King Phillip Road and Lost Horse Trail with walking trails through woodlands near two large vernal pools and to the top of historic Indian Rock; The trails in this area were improved in the spring as part of an eagle scout project;
  • The Metacomet Land Trust owns several pieces of protected land, notably the walking trails off of Bridle Path and The Lady Bug Trail near JFK school;
  • The Franklin State Forest is accessible off of Grove Street and Forge Hill Road and boasts an extensive network of walking and ORV trails;
  • The SNETT trail goes all the way to Douglas. There is a Town parking lot off of Grove Street. The Trail section from Prospect Street into Bellingham has been reconstructed by the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation;
  • The expansive marsh near Interstate 495 exit #17 is the US Army Corps of Engineers Natural Valley Flood Storage Project, preserved to protect against downstream flooding in the Charles River basin. That marsh is along Mine Brook, the largest stream in town, draining about half of Franklin, starting at the extreme south end of Franklin, passing underneath Washington Street, Beaver Street, 495, Grove Street, West Central Street, 495 again, Beech Street, and Pond Street before finally meeting the Charles River on the Medway border

Other significant streams in Franklin include Shepards Brook, Miller Brook, Uncas Brook and Bubbling Brook. Lake Populatic is part of the Charles River, the other navigable ponds in Franklin are Spring (Green’s) Pond, Beaver Pond, and Uncas Pond, the last two of which are listed as Great Ponds by Mass DEP.

The Commission would also like the town residents to be aware of the potential tax savings of M.G. L. Chapter 61 (forest land), 61A (agricultural land) and 61B (recreational land). Such programs are designed to benefit the land owner via reducing the tax burden as well as to preserving and maintaining the quality and quantity of environmentally sensitive and natural areas within the commonwealth.

Conservation Commission Members:
William Batchelor , Chair
Tara Henrichon, Vice Chair
Jeff Livingstone Staci Dooney
Paul Harrington Jeff Milne
Angela Gelineau

Respectfully submitted,
William Batchelor, Chair

You can read the full Annual Report for 2018 online

The archive of prior year annual reports

invasive plant species visible at DelCarte
invasive plant species visible at DelCarte

Earth Day 2010

Activities coordinated by Dave Dobrzynski as part of the Charles River Watershed Cleanup 4/24/2010

Earth Day 2010

Or go directly to Flickr

On this date: Feb 23, 2011 - Long Range Financial Planning Committee meeting

I did live reporting from the Long Range Planning Committee meeting on Feb 23, 2011:

Live reporting - Long Range Financial Planning Committee

Present: Doug Hardesty, Deb Bartlett, Craig DiMarzio, Graydon Smith, Sue Rohrbach, Steve Whalen,
Absent: Jeff Nutting, Orrin Bean, John Hogan,  Ken Harvey, Tina Powderly

Approval of minutes - postponed to next meeting
Action items - none

Metrics and benchmarking - Steve Whalen (Vice Chair, Town Council)

background, research analyst for an investment banking firm
drawn in by a comment made by J Nutting at a meeting sometime ago; "a town's budget is a reflection of their values"
started collecting data, started with a map and filled in data for the communities around us
The DOR site is a tremendous source of info, so much data is available
came up with 30 communities
walking through the info on his comparison worksheet
color coded communities by single versus split tax rate
we have a low tax rate compared to other communities with either a split or single tax rate
we are 21st in comparison on the average tax bill (of the 30)
we are 26th on relative tax burden which is a comparison of tax rate to community wealth
we rank 28th in percent of local property tax contributing to the total community revenue
we rank 1st in the percent of state aid contributing to the total community revenue

Continue reading about the meeting and the introduction of the community comparison

The five year forecast the Committee put together and completed (in 2012) has been updated and re-issued each year as part of the budget cycle.

The initial 2012 report:

The FY 2018-2022 version can be found here

On this date: Feb 23, 2011 - Long Range Financial Planning Committee meeting
On this date: Feb 23, 2011 - Long Range Financial Planning Committee meeting

Friday, February 22, 2019

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Board of Assessors

Interim Revaluation
The interim revaluation of all real and personal property in the Town of Franklin was completed Fall 2017 in preparation for Actual Fiscal Year 2018 3rd quarter tax bills. Following is a brief review of that achievement.

Data Collection
Sixteen years have now passed since we installed the real estate valuation and assessment administration software developed by Patriot Properties, Inc. Because our start-up data was from a different form of valuation system and most of our data had not been refreshed in nearly ten years, it was necessary to complete a town-wide data recollection program prior to finalizing the FY 2005 valuations. Patriot Properties was hired for this task. Over the past 13 years, our appraisal staff has performed the on-going property exterior measuring and interior inspecting for all real estate classes. Such reviews are done for the Department of Revenue (DOR) required cyclical program, as well as for building permitted changes, pre-appraisal and abatement verifications.

Field Review
In addition to individual property on-site review, field reviews are required periodically to check for obvious data accuracy and consistency. This driveby review provides another level of assurance that when valuation schedules are applied, the results will be “Fair and Equitable”.

Commercial/Industrial/Apartment Valuations
Annually there are analyses of sales data as well as income & expense market data. The Board contracted Patriot to work with our Director to establish an income approach to value for each property. All requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue were met through final approval of the FY 2018 valuations.

Sales Analysis
The majority of the sales analysis was completed by September 2017, and the interpretation of sales continued through the next two stages of valuation. The town-wide program resulted in a valuation system that was applied uniformly throughout the town, while reflecting all the adjustments warranted individually and by neighborhood, to result in “Full and Fair Cash Values” as per Massachusetts General Law.

Value Generation
A system of valuation was established based on valid property sales and where applicable the income approach to value. These schedules concluded from the market were then uniformly applied to all taxable and exempt real property.

Final Value Review
Final reviews were completed in preparation for the DOR review. These include studies of various computer-generated reports to check for value consistency, final field checks required, and for DOR documentation and its analyses.

DOR Review & Final Approval
Any on-site and statistical reviews by the DOR took place from April to September 2017. The appraisal staff provided files, generated property records, answered questions and addressed any concerns. At the conclusion of the DOR review, we were granted approval authorizing public disclosure.

Public Disclosure
The DOR approved valuations were available for disclosure to the property owners. While the administrative staff provided property record cards and general data reviews, the appraisers conducted informal hearings on valuations.

Personal Property
Business assets and those of utilities are reviewed for valuation as taxable Personal Property. For seventeen fiscal years we have engaged the specialized services of Real Estate Research Consultants (RRC) in the discovery and valuation of these accounts. These services have served us well, resulting in DOR approval and consistently defendable valuations. Also, considerable new growth has been certified annually. Additionally, the RRC Personal Property Software installed in our office has benefited us. The personal property valuation formulas are very straightforward, and the administrative capabilities have met our needs.

Classification Hearing & Tax Commitment
Following some discussion and a few presentations relative to single versus split tax rates, the Council approved a single tax rate at $14.65 per $1,000 of taxable value as calculated by the Board for all property classes. The tax commitment and mailing were timely for an actual 3rd quarter tax bill.

Abatement Reviews
Upon mailing of the tax bills and on or before the due date of the first actual bill, property owners have an opportunity to file an Abatement Application on the basis of overvaluation or misclassification. 61 abatements applications were filed of 11,524 taxable accounts, or just under 6/10ths of 1%. Generally those with merit were resolved through our conducting a complete on-site exterior measuring and interior inspection. Usually a valuation discrepancy is the result of a data error or as a result of an inspection appointment not being arranged and thus the property data having been “estimated”.

Technology Improvements
In addition to our state-of-the-art software for the valuation and administration of both real and personal property, Cartographic Associates, now CAI Technologies of Littleton, NH has continued to maintain the digital/GIS-mapping program it first completed for us for FY 2005. Following aerial photography and planimetric (physical features) mapping, CAI constructed cadastral tax maps (depicting parcels) through the use of over 5,000 plans and over 15,000 deeds. These new maps are continuously in our process of reconciliation with our property records for consistency in both parcel inventory and land area. With the support of Town Administrator Jeff Nutting and the Town Council, we have capacity in our Patriot software to link and utilize the maps with our assessment data file. In addition, for the past thirteen years we have provided our tax maps on the web for the benefit of both the Town staff and the general public.

Appraisal & Administrative Staffing
The use of automation has minimized the former heavy burden of traditional data processing. Due to this and numerous other office improvements, the Town approved our Staff Restructuring Plan. We have adjusted our administrative support staff to Board Secretary Anne Covell who is responsible for continuing to improve our service to the public at the counter and by phone. She focuses her efforts on providing and reviewing public records, Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Commitments and Abatements, Exemption Applications, the general and specific support to the Appraisal Staff and any other assignments as required. She continues to train in various administrative duties and computer applications. We thank Anne for her diligence in 38 years of service to the Board. The Appraisers have made special efforts in the development and implementation of usable written instructions for the assessing office procedures and for MUNIS financial software applications. These instructions were developed consistent with all Mass. General Law and DOR requirements.

We thank Kevin W. Doyle, Director of Assessing for his diligence especially as Director beginning following his first two years here. He has overseen the completion of all our work these past seventeen fiscal years, six full revaluations and eleven interim years of market adjustments. We also acknowledge the support work of Appraiser David Ruberti since July 2005 and of Appraiser Peter Mooney since August 2004. Our Director received his Massachusetts Accredited Assessor (MAA) in 1990 and the MAAO Wilson Award in June 2013. Within the past eleven years both Appraisers completed their designation required education and experience, being granted their MAA designations and maintaining the periodic recertification required.

Town Revenue Enhancements
In addition to meeting all state requirements as well as daily office oversight, the Director and Appraisers have achieved many additional improvements to benefit the Town taxpayers. One such is the efficiencies built into the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Commitment and Abatement processes in conjunction with the new MUNIS tax software installation. These excise taxes represent about 5 million dollars in locally raised annual revenue, or about 6.3% of locally raised tax revenue. We assure the citizens that like real and personal property, taxes on these are assessed and abated appropriately and uniformly for the maximum benefit of all. Registry of Motor Vehicles’ automation aided the Director and Appraisers to further enhance revenue in assessing dealer and repair plate registrations. As well, with the automation improvements of the Environmental Police, this professional staff successfully developed a new annual revenue stream in the identification and assessment of excise taxes on boats principally situated in the Town of Franklin.

On-site Periodic Property Reviews
Because we have initiated the cyclical property remeasurement and re-inspection program acceptable to the Massachusetts DOR, we continue to make various public information efforts to assure property owners have advance information about this on-going program. Briefly, please note that the purpose of these property visits is to verify that the correct data is being used in the determination of valuations to achieve “full and fair cash value” in accordance with Mass. General Law Chapter 59. The Board appreciates the general public’s cooperation in its efforts to serve all property owners of all property types to assure fair and uniform values.

Your Elected Board of Assessors
Before entering the performance of his/her duties, each Assessor upon election has taken the oath of office specific to assessors. Massachusetts General Law has provided that because the DOR Commissioner of Revenue has regulatory oversight of assessing in every city and town, the Commissioner likewise determines the training requirements for the assessors and any assistants. At this time, the Commissioner has determined Course 101, including the Classification Training Workshop, meets the minimum requirements. All three assessors have completed these and have been certified as such by the Commissioner of Revenue. The Board looks forward to continuing education opportunities offered by the MA DOR and the professional associations, the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers (MAAO) and the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). The assessors have attended seminars and workshops to broaden and reinforce their understanding of property tax law.

In particular, the Board has focused on current and possible future tax relief and deferral options for Franklin’s elder citizens. To that goal following meetings of the Town Senior Outreach Committee, last fall the Board, its Staff and the Office of the Council on Aging continued a broad-based effort to reach seniors. This resulted in successfully providing tax relief (exemption) information to additional seniors who owned and occupied their homes. Also, with the valued assistance of Veterans’ Agent Dale Kurtz, special efforts were made to identify veterans and their surviving spouses entitled to state exemptions, much of it reimbursable to the Town. We look forward to continuing to work with him in supporting our veterans.

All these efforts are consistent with the Board of Assessors commitment to meet its challenges as key Town Financial Team members to the benefit of all the citizens of the Town of Franklin. The Assessing Department is now officially a part of the Franklin Finance Division headed by newly hired Finance Director Christopher Sandini who also serves as Comptroller, replacing Susan Gagner who we wish well in her retirement. Also retiring was Treasurer-Collector Jim Dacey with whom we worked cooperatively over these past 2 decades and we wish him well in his retirement. We welcome Kerri Bertone as the new Treasurer-Collector and look forward to cooperative and productive work with Kerri into Franklin’s future.

As we write, the Board of Assessors and its Staff are preparing to finalize the Real and Personal Property Appraisal files for the Fiscal Year 2019 Interim Year Update subject to DOR review and Final Approval.

Respectfully submitted,
W. Ken Norman, Chairman of the Board
Christopher K. Feeley, Assessor, Clerk
Donna Greenwood, Assessor, Member

Franklin Board of Assessors

You can read the full Annual Report for 2018 online

The archive of prior year annual reports

Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Board of Assessors
Franklin Annual Report - 2018: Board of Assessors

Harlem Wizards in March 2009

Family fun at Tri-County. Harlem Wizards played the Sullivan Rockets in a fund raiser for the PCC in March 2009. Yes, this I think was the first visit of the Wizards. They have returned for several years as a fund raiser for the Franklin Education Foundation (FEF).

Harlem Wizards

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