Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week ending - Jan 8, 2012

Timing is critical in putting things together. Recall the last time you worked with “some assembly required”. You needed to layout the pieces, make sure you had them all, then start with step 1. If you rushed into it, you may have found out that something really needed to be done in Step 4 before you got to Step 5 and while it looked like they would fit together, taking the steps in order was so critical.

Such is part of the problem I think we face here in Franklin. Most of us get information piecemeal. Maybe some details from a neighbor. Some from the Milford Daily News and the occasional story from the Boston Globe West. Some of us watch either the live broadcast or the replay of particular Franklin meetings. Except for some significant events, very few of us actually appear in person at a meeting of the Town Council, School Committee, Finance Committee Planning Board or any of the other groups operating to govern and conduct business for Franklin.

This piecemeal information gathering would be okay as long as the information is accurate. then when the time comes to make sense of it, the pieces would at least fit together. However, some information getting passed around is incorrect and trying to set the story straight becomes a challenge.

As we get into 2012, there will be two major stories to follow closely. One is with the high school building project and the other will be the annual budget discussion. The School Building Committee has done their work and the proposal for the model school is before the MSBA for their decision. Once they approve, Franklin will have 120 days to make its financial commitment. This commitment process will start with the Town Council agreeing to schedule a debt exclusion vote. Then the discussion will focus around the details of the project, how much the Commonwealth will contribute to the cost and the bottom line: what will the Franklin taxpayers be required to pay? Ultimately, the Franklin voters will need to approve the debt exclusion question. Coincidentally, the vote will occur at the current high school.

The annual budget discussion will be a challenge this year. Why this year more so than other years? The debt exclusion vote would likely have occurred just as the full budget discussion gets underway. The willingness of the Franklin taxpayer to take from their own pocket is well known. What potential cuts would be required to bring the budget to a balance with the available funds? Will there be enough growth in revenue given the stuttering economy?

The discussion will likely revisit the School Committee decision around the teacher contract agreement and the subsequent Town Council decision to reduce the current school budget. After all the departments present their needs, after the Town Administrator makes its recommendation, and after the Finance Committee makes their recommendation, it will be up to the Town Council. Will the Town Council come back to the Franklin taxpayers with an override vote? Or will sufficient revenue be identified to balance the budget without additional cuts?

Stay tuned for updates on both of these stories. There are enough meetings to attend to stay current and no one person can cover them all. My work on the Board of Directors for the Franklin Food Pantry is taking priority so my own attendance at Franklin meetings is down. If you feel you could add your voice to the reporting here, please let me know. Together we can put the pieces to the puzzle in their proper place and make sense of it all!

Jan 8

Jan 7

Jan 6

Jan 5

Jan 4

Jan 3

Jan 2

Heralding in the New Gardening Year

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