LIVE BLOG: Night 7 Framingham Town Meeting - Framingham & Keefe Tech School Budgets Approved

Framingham Town Meeting Night 7, is scheduled to begin tonight, May 13 at 7:30 in Nevins Hall inside the Memorial Building or when a quorum is reached.

Last Thursday, Town Meeting members approved both the $13.5 million Fire Department and $12.8 million Police Department Fiscal year budgets among other budget items. The school budget was not discussed nor voted on.

Tonight, Town Meeting will continue discussion and voting on a $247 million operating budget for the government and the schools for Fiscal year 2015, which starts July 1. It is Article 19 of a 40+ article warrant.

Framingham Patch will be live blogging again tonight.

Editor's Note: Please excuse typos. I will update and fix tomorrow.


7:35 p.m. Town Meeting has a quorum.

Moderator is going over the rules of Town Meeting.

Wednesday night there will be standing committee reorganization meetings.

Moderator explaining difference between resolution and amendment and motion. She asked for Town Counsel Chris Petrini to talk about the issue.

Test question -- was the lawn mowed this weekend?
Results: 34-58-16
Moderator said she did not mow her lawn either

7:43 p.m.
Town Meeting will continue with article 19 - the operating budget

Parks & Recreation Department ...
CFO speaking - Passes on Parks & Rec, Cemeteries and Loring Arena.

Herb Chasan -- chair community committee -- speaking met with Park & Rec chair and endorsed the new alzheimer's program at the Council on Aging, new youth at risk program, concerts on the common

Looking at beaches, Danforth gym, and Loring arena.
Voted 5-1-3 for Parks & Rec budget

Town Meeting member discussion

George Lewis - TMM18 - Passed on the Parks & Recreation budget and is 
now speaking - 

talking about Saxonville Beach and October 25 - Lewis went to talk about an issue that happened at this location - not sure how the project ever started this.

Moderator will not allow Town Meeting members to illustrate the article issues with a visual presentation to Town meeting members

Lewis said on Oct 25 he witness parks & Rec trucks cutting transmission poles and dumping and burying in the ground

who is responsible? for restoring all the trees NSTAR cutting down?
Like clarification from Parks & Rec - Lewis

although happened 2012 -- I think it is current and show how parks & recreation has too much freedom says Lewis

Parks & Recreation Director Jim Duane speaking -- not director at the time. Have knowledge of the incidence in 2012. Who gave the orders to bury those telephone poles? No body gave those orders. Directive was to remove the poles - use them as a base for retraining - 90% of he poles were removed and miscommunication that 2 of poles were buried. When Parks & Rec was notified of the issue - they removed the poles.

Landscaping at Saxonville Beach - NSTAR would do remedial work - remedial work is limited at best. Design done by Weston Nurseries. Design paid by NSTAR not by town.

Lewis -- why did Parks & Rec go to Ellingwood and present rocky soil - I want to have that soil tested contamination? They received the direct from Ellingwood construction.

Moderator - do you have a response to that?

Parks & Rec director Duane speaking -- the materials brought in was fill - no asphalt, brick or concrete brought in. Then top soil put on - it looks significantly better than it did before it started.

Maureen Dunne -- TMM9 - speaking -- speak in support of the parks & recreation budget - including new alzheimer's program at Callahan Senior Center

Moderator -- We are working on the parks & recreation line item and not senior center.

Moderator calls for vote on Parks & Recreation budget.

Hand vote - moderator says no hands in opposition
Editor's note: There were at least 4 hands in opposition

7:57 p.m. 

Gerry Bloomfield  who passed on Loring Arena budget now speaking --  I like hockey but deficit at the arena - get clarification -- plans in offering to enhance the revenue - so no longer a deficit.

CFO speaking -- Arena is no longer in an enterprise fund. Technical it is not in deficit. It does provide $450,000 of revenue to the general fund. Asking for approval of $500,00 - which is pretty close.

Framingham High pays those ice time fees - not doing anything to ourselves when we increase those fees.

Duane speaking -- Previously speaker answered the question

FINCOM report -- Dan Lampl speaking -- met with Parks & Rec and unanimously voted 8-0-0 to support Loring budget

Richard Barritz - TMM17 - speaking -- I heard something of a shock to me. That Loring brings in $450,000 and budget is $500,000. We are really talking about $50,000 now. Are there other items like this?

CFO speaking -  Local receipts total over $19 million This budget is $246 million., It is safe to say most department do not bring in enough money to offset their operations. Generally, department do not make back their own operating costs in revenue.

For example, the School Depart. is a $109 million budget and brings in about $4 million in receipts tops.

Moderator calls for hand vote she said Loring Arena budget passed.
Overall parks & rec budget vote - moderator calls for hand vote - she said it passed.

8:05 p.m. 
Finance division budget items
CFO reading the line items - there were passed on Accounting, Assessing, Purchasing

Town Meeting member (TMM1) Gerry Bloomfield  who passed on accounting now speaking

$80,000 on detail work -- is that an error or oversight or correct?

CFO speaking - we can produce a report that give detail or overtime pay.

Bloomfield -- folo up question -- would someone notice an error like that is real - $80,000 on detail pay.

CFO - the number could be reviewed - the number could be more than a year - detail is paid when the town is paid.

CFO: Current speaker has a report that we provide him - we are happy to discuss instead of Town Meeting floor.

Moderator: please consider your questions carefully. Administration is open to answering those question but don't have to be done on Town Meeting floor.

Moderator calls for Hand vote on accounting budget.
She said it passed - unanimous

TMM1 - Gerry Bloomfield -- passed on assessor's budget - speaking technicality of assessing - 
permits -- increase sales amount.
Assessing department explain how they get the information from permits. Is the sale price adjusted? Does it affect all the other houses in the neighborhoods?

Town broken up into neighborhoods -- pricing differences -- assessed values are different? Why?

Chief of assessor speaking -- permits are property specific - so if taken out and property is improved - value will be added to the property. permit information given to us monthly from building.

neighborhoods -- residential property - 19 neighborhoods - review each house in the neighborhood and based on similiar style - colonial compared to colonials in that neighborhood - if not found expand to another neighborhood.

Richard Barritz - TMM17 - speaking -- clarification on answer to Bloomfield.

We do inspection every 6 to 9 years -- Framingham cycle is every 6 years -- physical inspection.

Town Manager Bob Halpin speaking -- if someone brought to us that illegal work done - go to building inspector and then enforcement and then would find its way to assessors office.

George Lewis - TMM18 -- waterfront properties -- learned pond, waushakum -- how is the land valued in relation to properties inland? Are waterfront appraised at a higher value.

Chief assessor: residential properties reviewed on marked sales.

Lewis -- what happens if no properties on waterfront sold?

state mandate can not charge more because you are on waterfront?

Chief assessor: if void of any sales in any neighborhood in framingham, then go to a similiar community

Moderator calls for a hand vote. She said it passed unanimously for assessors budget.

TMM1 -- Gerry Bloomfield -- passed on the purchasing budget - he is speaking

Contract - no bid contracts policy? Is there a carry over clause?

CFO speaking - Town follows state law and some local bylaws

8:23 p.m. Moderator calls for vote on purchasing budget via hand vote - passed

Inspectional services budget -- CFO speaking
Moderator -- heard passes on all 3 items
Town Meeting corrects herself -- only passes on building and board of health.

Gloria Gellar - TMM2 -- passed on building 
Gellar -- defacing and abuse property?

Building Commissioner speaking -- not clear on the question

Gellar -- any & all properties -- last week talked about conservation commission properties -- 

Halpin speaking -- I think there is a great need for improvement for superrvising open land -- 

Moderator calls for vote - hand vote -- passed - unanimously she said.

Editor's Note: Would you prefer budget items be voted on electronically or via hand vote? An electronic vote is record and kept in the Town Clerk's office and thus residents can see how their Town Meeting members voted. Post in the comments.

Point of order -- TMM1 -- Gerry Bloomfield -- I'm clearing raising my hand -- and I don't want to jump up and down - I'm trying to be polite.

Moderator - I did not see you.

Committee reports
FINCom chair speaking -- new director and new assistant director -- asking several folo up question -- increases were reasonable -budget increase were reasonable.

Herb Chasan - TMM4 -- chair of community services committee -- new social worker/humas service coordinator person -- discussion great need for such a person - hording and homeless and drug dilemna and food insecurities and drug problems - 7-0-0

Yashov Cohen -- TMM5 - speaking -- I'm quite skeptical with what is happening with the board of health - Motion to reduce budget by $228,000
reason is - this department is growing like crazy - 60% increase over the last 2 years.

Everything the director is going to do -- director will partner with community stakeholders and apply for grants Assistant will do the director job says speaker

This departments seems out of control - bring motion up ...

Halpin speaking -- three great priorities - public health division - suffered tremendous reductions in staff the last 10 years.

Michael Hugo - chair of the board of health - speaking - Past 5 months -- adapted to regulations -- well water - well property placed

health inspection on rental units -- increase value of rental stock

first -- current staffing is at its all time lowest level - food inspections -2X - being carried out by 2 inspectors for the entire town.

Board of health not had an increase in budget the last 3 years

State law has adopted 9 new programs and put them under board of health since 1992

Toxic issues -- town of Framingham -- general chemical, Ellingwood

Matters of public health -town has major mental health issues -

most pressing is the mental health issues of our children. 1 in 5 high school students contemplated suicide. 500 students have reported being bullying.

1 terrifying statistics - 6 percent - 6 out of every 100 - 120 students have attempted to kill themselves -- think about that. - Hugo said.

Framingham is not unique in this. Mental health has a last name health - and anything that has to do with health is why we are here.

8:39 p.m. 
Audrey Hall - chair of ways & means  speaking -- giving committee report -- share some of discussion points with Town Meeting members -- this is a department that has been operating on a razor thin line. 

Editor's Note: Apologize wi-fi in Nevins Hall crashed again. I had to go to the personal hot spot I brought with me tonight

8:48 p.m. Jake Bajekian speaking -- in favor of the motion to reduce the health budget by $228,000

This is one big empire increase -- look at jobs being created - that is a nice piece of change - needs to be looked at closer.

Health director speaking -- had same staff levels now as we did in 88 - now have 19 programs back from 8 then. We simply can not get to the work we need to.

Jeff Cox - TMM14 speaking  - on Friday attended a funeral of a 25 year old who died of a heroin overdose  - personal was a combat veterans - I will not stand - that we don't need this sort of health - I am watching children and adults and our community really suffering with heroin, depression and anxiety. 

I know this will pass - let's not fool ourselves Framingham -- the pain our children, elders and veterans are having. ... when someone comes ... first hand .. we need the help. 

Let's support this budget - Cox

Question moved -- hand vote -- passed

Motion by Cohen -- reduce bugdet $228,000 -- needs majority

Winett requested a electronic vote to the moderator through a point of order

MOTION Failed 9-125-5
Editor's Note: Cohen voted against his own motion, but his wife voted in favor of it.

Point of information -- Peter Pleshaw - TMM11 -- I had my hand up to talk  -- had questions on the financial implications.

Moderator - said she is trying to be fair and to call on different parts of the room

Point of order  - TMM - missed who -  told not looking at one side of the room when calling people.

Vote on board of health budget comes - moderator calls for a hand vote -- passed -- she said there were 3 in opposition

Vote on the Inspectional budget total - moderator calls for hand vote - passed

8:57 p.m.

Economic Development = CFO reading list and budget line item

Gerry Blomfield - TMM1 - passed and is now speaking -- talking about blight at Nobscot Plaza -- try to understand what the role of this group is going to be.

Clarification on Nobscot Plaza - what is being done?

Moderator cut the speaker off

Halpin speaking -- that is a problem - not a week that it does not get personal attention. We know that shopping center - has a lease that ties up the plaza -- we are engaged in code enforcement - outreach to the owner - trying to improve that situation -- blight there is unacceptable.
stick with it until the job is done.

Bloomfield -- so goes Nobscot so goes Framingham

Moderator  is now cutting off Bloomsfield -- telling him to take his seat.

Phil Ottavani  requests to move the question --

Moderator refuses to accept the request

Lloyd Kaye -- TMM10 speaking I would hope that a lot of people who have not gotten up so we can hear different voices at Town Meeting.

Yashev Cohen -- TMM6 - speaking -- don't have question - wants to welcome the new director

Moderator - the comment is unnecessary - you can say that privately

Phil Ottaviani  requests again to move the question -- 2/3rd needed -
Moderator takes a hand vote - it passed

Community & Economic development -- passed - three hand in opposition according to moderator

9:05 p.m. Technology Services Division
CFO speaking -- - no passes
hand vote  on budget - it passed - unanimous

9:06 p.m. Human Resources - 
passes on human resources & veterans

Gerry Bloomfield - TMM1 - passed on human resources - questions
we automatically increase salaries in town budget - built in -- how do we stack up against other communities??

Town Meeting should know that we are competive on our salaries?
What is the people policy? 

Point of order mae by a TMM - whom did not identify himself - "Moderator please strike it down"

Bloomfield -- can't complaint about something I have not asked

Moderator -- one more question Mr. Bloomfield

Bloomfield -- "I'm glad I am being limited"

How far away can first responders be allowed to live?

Moderator cutting Bloomfield off after 3 questions.

Editor's Note: Moderator said at the start of Town Meeting members could ask up to 4 questions when they get up.

Hamilton - HR director speaking -- built money for a fair market compensation study

9:09 p.m.

Moderator -- this is not the time to ask your questions. We have wasted enough time.

Moderator calls for hand vote on HR budget.

There was a pass on the Veterans services -- Kevin Crotty - TMM7 - who passed now speaking

Crotty - budget item near & dear to my heart -- only has 1.5 personnel working there ... memorial day - all the veterans have flags placed at the grave site ...

I hope that there are no veterans who don;t go without a flag on there grave.

Moderator -- mr. Crotty please take your seat.

Moderator - this is getting out of hand. I am going to stop these questions when I don't think they are relevant.

Moderator calls for vote on veterans services -- she takes a hand vote -- it passed

9:13 p.m.

School Budget presentation.
Moderator originally tells Framingham School Superintendent only a 5 minute presentation but then increases it to 10 minutes. 

Scott presenting on his $109 million budget request

Scott speaking:
We have significant issues
I want to note problems here when I arrived in the district
Leadership challenges
achievement gap
building vision
curriculum gaps -- need to put effort into that
no link between assessments - significant work to build up
problems with human resource management
building professional development

respond to needs to address student achievement
identify needs of each student
coaching in schools
bilingual coaches in the school
reorganization the central office
aligned the leadership in the district to meet the needs going forward
align to common core
work to reach student progress
recognize align curriculum to new state and federal standards
develop human resource strategies - hire online methods
create a 3-year plan for preofessional development
create a leadership academy to bring speakers in
adequate coaching for teachers
expand critical areas into district - bring STEM
expand the world language programs
update social studies and science programs
believe everyone plays a role in helping our students perform
building technology in the district
update all the programs in the district - highest expectations for all our students

last year's budget was $102 million
looking for $109 million in school year 2014-15

Adding money to staff King - the 9th new elementary school

Moderator - is this slide in the book?
Scott: figures in the book but not this slide
Moderator - slide is hard to read

9:24 p.m.
Scott speaking again

AP Scores at high school high
High school ranked #25 in state by US News & World Report 

Improvement targets to improve the schools in english,  math and science by FY17

Managing the enrollment challenges -
Building 9th elementary school - strong STEAM emphasis
managing substitute costs
created a plan to bring schools to level 2 status.

Editor's Note: 146 Town Meeting members checked in tonight.

9:27 p.m. FINCOM chair report  vice chair speaking -- voted unanimously to support the budget 7-0-0

Urge the school department to make an annual report to Town Meeting on how the school's are improving -

Hope SC will extend Scott's contract til the end of his plan.

Health insurance costs savings allows the town to give the schools this additional money to make improvements to the schools.

$109 million request for FY15

Over the next fiscal decade - more than $100 million in school capital projects

Impact on the town's budget will be substantial.
Framuingham has been underfunded in chapter 70 funding
state recognizes Framingham is the #1 community underfunded

9:31 p.m.
Audrey Hall - Ways & Means chair speaking -- enrollment has grown -- but we closed Juniper Hill when enrollment was down - but now opening 9th elementary school

next year's K class over 800 students -- committee talked about district Scott inherited - quite a bit of turnover in leadership - cuts in budget  - positions like curriculumn directors were eliminated -- do damage - important to rebuild that.

a year in a kid's life is a whole year that can not be made up - Hall.

Lack of consistent leadership performance
lack of vision and direction
many schools operating independently

Felt confident moving in the right direction
financial -- wanted to talk about that we have to make an investment
Us World News ranked Framingham High #25 in the state
increased value in our property
this is an investment
bring new language to the schools

when does cost factor stop increasing??
felt this budget fairly & accurately met the plans and vision - and what we need to rebuild the schools -- 13-0-1

9:37 p.m. Dick Weader -- standing committee on education chair speaking

budget to address deficiencies in state report
move level 3 status of 6 schools to level 2
deal with enrollments

High school is an administrative technicality level 3 status - it is like the state lied to us...

more serious level 3 priorities - Brophy, Barbieri and Wilson
Many of these position -- do work -- people laid off between 2001 and 2010 used to do.
trying to build the staff back up.

additional factors in this budget -- major increase in enrollment
major increase in utilities

standing committee - recommendation -- $109 million -- 10-0-0

9:44 p.m. School Committee Chair Beverly Hugo speaking. she said School Committee unanimously supported the budget.

Town Meeting member discussion:
9:45 p.m. Herb Chasan - TMM4 -- speaking
school ranking show some ranking results - some of he school at the bottom and some of the school at the top.

extreme levels of inequality in our town - that is just unacceptable
kids in schools just 6 hours a day. they can only do so much

solutions I see -- early childhood programs
afterschool programs
summer school programs
especially for the low performing kid - help to reduce the achievement gap
but it all costs money
but smart money

Gerry Bloomfield -- Point of order -- didn't call on people passed

Moderator -- everyone wants to talk on this budget so going to do it this way

Harold Gellar - TMM2 -- speaking -- support this budget -- very little amount spent per student -- large correlation between student attendance and student performance. what is the attendance? is there a problem or not? attendance between schools?

9:48 p.m. Scott speaking
Not done a study if attendance is a critical problem
attendance generally is good
generally good across the district
we monitor that

Ned Price - TMM17 -- question - how many student in district?
Scott - 8300+ in district

Price -- rounding numbers off in the last 3 years - total enrollment up from 8100 to 8300 -- only about 4% increase. Staff levels gone up 1150 to 1225 - 6.5% increase in body count in staff.

Tara Alves - TMM3 - speaking -- folo up to a question -- address and recommend the need for an anti-bullying district wide bullying.
is there a district wide program? There is one in Natick and it is a huge success. Antibullying has no monetary figure. Why?

Scott -- no specific number for anti-bullying -- we have a variety of program systems wide -- positive behaviors system - 

funded by grants and other resources -- significant emphasis .. office of civil rights concerns -- built up our policies and concerns.

9:54 p.m.
TMM6 - Bob Bolles speaking - 9th elementary school - that should be on the southside of the tracks someplace.

need to go back to neighborhood schools and get rid of school choice and will get rid of many buses. Could save serious tax dollars.
Moving to fast to replace all the positions.

9:57 p.m  TMM -- missed the name -- why so many principal lost is that a positive or a negative?

Scott speaking -- opportunities to grow and to change

Bill Osborn -- Tmm6 -- I really don't understand how more than 75% goes to salary and less than 25% to expenses? 

Scott -- excellent question - we are a service industry - primary focus people in front of students. Grow staffing at the lower level. Industry standards -- salaries are a majority of school budgets.

10 p.m.

Osborn -- folo up question -- previous speakers 6.5% in staffing while only 4% in population -- so just keep increasing staffing? more bodies in front of the children. My children go to private school.

SCOTT - speaking -- doing tremendous effort on part of staff to maintain and moderate our costs.
specifically SPED costs

10:03 p.m. A motion to move the question

Moderator -- accepts. Hand vote - 2.3rd vote needed - passed.
Moderator calls for the school budget vote - she asks for a hand vote.
She said it passed.

Motion made to adjourn -- by Phil Ottaviani

Moderator - refuses - she said the Keefe Tech superintendent has been here 3 nights and not fair to make him come back again.

Editor's Note: Several Town Meeting members comment they are her for night 7 and expect there will be a night 8

CFO read Keefe tech budget line item.
There is a pass by several Town Meeting members.

Moderator  now introduces  new superintendent of keefe tech school

Superintendent Evans making a presentation 
our budget was reviewed in Dec. by FinCom mmebers
operating budget was presented to all the committees

$8.6 million budget share for Framingham - increase of 4.36%
In terms of overall district enrollment - 696 students in 5 towns
Framingham 496 students - 71.2%
stable enrollment for Framingham

past year -- Keefe is a level 2 school - exceeded MCAS growth
for last year's graduating calss 2013 - 58% had college plans - 4 year - 28% and increase in 10% 30% plan to attend 2-year program

FYI for the arts sculpture -- Keefe tech students worked
carpentary students building park shelters, parks & rec projecta njd Framingham Housing projects

10:10 p.m. Committee reports

FINCOM reports -- Dan Lampl speaking -- 
8-0-1 to recommend favorable action

Hall - ways & means chair speaking -- collective bargainng agreements very favorable -- pleased to meet and getting to know new superintendent -- committee voted 10-0-1 in favor.

Dick Weader -- speaking -- chair of education committee

Town Meeting members to speak

10:13 p.m.

Bill Osborn - TMM6 - speaking -- Best money this town spends - I know of it for personal experience from a family member -flourishing over at keefe tech.

Moderator calls for a hand vote on the $8 million Keefe budget.
She said it passed unanimously

TMM14 --  Jeff Cox makes a move to adjourn
Moderator accepts.
Town Meeting to resume Night 8 on Wednesday, May 14 at 7;30 p.m. or when a quorum is reached

10:15 p.m. Night 7 ends

Bob Berman May 14, 2014 at 07:18 AM
I have no idea what Yaakov Cohn's deal was with the Board of Health. His rant seemed so random and non-focused, and then he voted AGAINST HIS OWN AMENDMENT! Quite the waste of 20 minutes of our lives that we will never get back and a good example of what does not work in the Town Meeting form of Government.
Scott Wadland May 14, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Re: the editor's question about electronic voting - I responded last week that I think it should be used for all votes except maybe procedural votes like moving the question, adjournment, etc. Why have it and not use it? Why not let the residents see how their TMMs voted? Is there anyone who can put this question to the Moderator? Or, should their be a policy in place?
D Penta May 14, 2014 at 10:53 PM
I'm with you Susan -- I want to know how my Town Meeting members vote. I think anything financial - especially the school budget - and anything controversial - should be with the electronic voting so there is a record of it.
D Penta May 14, 2014 at 10:53 PM
Is it possible for you Susan to post all the electronic votes at the end of Town Meeting or right before the Town Election, so we know which people not to re-elect?


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