Sunday, January 31, 2010

FM #56 - Week ending 1/31/10

This is #56 in the series on what matters in Franklin, MA. This session covers the Busget Hearing and the School Committee meeting of the past week and looks ahead to the Finance Comm and Town Council meetings this week.

Time: 10 minutes, 14 seconds

MP3 File

Session notes:

This internet radio show or podcast is number 56 in the series for Franklin Matters.

Take about ten minutes to keep current with what matters in Franklin, MA as the week ends January 31, 2010

In this session I’ll cover the Budget Workshop on Monday, Jan 25 and the School Committee meeting on Tuesday January 26, 2010

I'll also review changes to the Facebook group for Franklin Matters and the introduction of Franklin Matters Weekly.

Monday night, the budget workshop was held at the municipal bldg. Jeff Nutting credited Maureen Sabolinski with the idea to get folks together to review the basics of the budget and the process rather than having to do it three times, once each for the Town Council, School committee and the Finance Committee.

A great idea. It was well attended. The new folks from the TC and SC were there, I think everyone from FINCOM was there. There were also a few other citizens; an FHS teacher, A DPW worker, and and “average joe” citizen.

The presentation started with Susan Gagner, Town Comptroller reviewing the details of the town incomes and expenses. Very well done. Jim Dacey, Treasurer/Collector reviewed debt and interest rate side of the Town business.

The group took a break for some refreshments and conversation. It seemed too short on conversation as we got called back together to review the School budget. Maureen Sabolinski and Miriam Goodman took the lead, then handed off to Sally Winslow and Beth Fitzmaurice to cover the Special Ed nuances.

After 3 hours of good info, solid Q&A, we broke for the evening. I did record the workshop and will be releasing sections of the meeting for others to listen in and learn what we all did.

Some of the documents have been posted to the website for viewing and printing should you want your own copy.

Watch FM for additional segments as they are released.

Two main takeways from the School Committee meeting Tuesday evening. One the budget history for the past several years was presented. This was effectively the same document reviewed during the budget workshop on Monday. This is not correct. Although I recorded it that way, the two presentations are indeed separate. The School Committee presentation is posted and does cover the historical aspects of the school budget. The presentation from the workshop is not yet posted but will be as I get to that section of the recording.

The School Committee also started a discussion on setting priorities or ground rules for considering what programs would be cut should it come to that to balance the budget. Sue Rohrbach did a good job starting the discussion and laying out some topic for consideration. She had not prioritized them, that would be a next step to do so. By the time the remaining members of the committee weighed in on items to add, it wasn't really a list that could be called a short one, it seemed to me like everything the schools did was now added to the list.

On the one hand, it shows how serious the budget situation is, there are no sacred cows. Everything is on the table.

On the other hand, with everything on the table, the SC does need to get to the next level of determining some criteria for prioritizing the cuts. I think what they have thus far is not better than what they had earlier.

A copy of the presentation is available on Franklin matters

As I have said here before, the next several months will be very interesting. Franklin citizens can provide and should their input to the charter (how we conduct our business), the downtown project (how we will get in and around downtown), and ultimately the Franklin budget (which will effect everyone because of the services that we all receive from it, altho admittedly, some receive more than others.). If you were waiting for a good time to get involved, the time is now.

In recognition that time your time is short, I have created a separate webpage to post the weekly review. For those who just want the facts, a la Sgt Joe Friday from Dragnet, you can subscribe to FM Weekly and all you will get will be the weekly summary once a week. It should clean up your email and help you stay current.

If you want all the details, stay here at FM and you'll continue to get all that I can learn and share about Franklin.

I still need to attend the meetings, take the notes, etc. in order to produce the weekly so there won;t be any change on the FM front. You'll still get everything without a change.

The addition is the FM weekly for you or one of your neighbors, who just wants the short skinny, they can get it.

On Facebook, there is a group for Franklin Matters. I have created a “fan page” for FM and will be posting new info there, eventually removing the group. What's the difference? The fan page is more like your Facebook profile page and easier to manage for me. No change in content just in the location where you can obtain it.

Looking ahead, there is a FINCOM meeting on Tuesday. They are scheduled to look at the capital budget and begin to make some decisions on what if anything we can do on the capital side.

The Town Council meets on Wednesday. Spruce Pond Creamery is up for a liquor license and then the Council has a couple of items of legislation to approve, one to fund the trash totters or new bins that we discussed last time;  two, to clean up some outstanding debt authorizations that we don't need at this time.

As I close this session this week, let me remind you that
  • If you like what I am doing, please tell your neighbors
  • If you don’t like something, 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 the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission
I hope you enjoy!

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to the website to listen to the audio version.

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