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LIVE BLOG: Framingham Town Meeting Night 5

Framingham Patch will be live blogging again tonight.

Credit: Susan Scully Petroni
Credit: Susan Scully Petroni
 Framingham Town Meeting continues tonight.  

Last night, Framingham Town Meeting members approved a $2.4 million dollar plan to begin automated trash collection and approved a total $14.8 million capital improvement municipal and school budget.

Town Meeting Night 5, is scheduled to begin at 7:30 in Nevins Hall inside the Memorial Building or when a quorum is reached. Town Meeting is expected to continue discussion on water and sewer construction projects.

Framingham Patch will be live blogging again tonight.

***

There is a quorum - 7:33 p.m.

Moderator is going over the rules.

She is reminding Town Meeting members that there will be precinct meetings tonight during a break.

7;35 p.m. Test question - electronic voting
Do you like the new (larger) screen?
85-4-12

Moderator: Any vote not recorded property?
Joel Winett going to help the Town Meeting member

7:37 p.m.
ARTICLE 17 -- water enterprise fund -- $18.1 million
Motion by CFO to vote the entire budget except for the one part that was rejected last night -- A17G - $130,000
2/3rd vote required to pass

Electronic vote --  95-6-4 PASSED
Editor's Note: Dennis Paulsen chair of the standing committee on Public Works voted no.

7:40 p.m.
Article 18
- sewer enterprise fund - $9.135 million

Committee reports
Chair Capital Budget committee Bill McCarthy speaking tonight - really no issues. Water & sewer projects are related. 7-0-0 in favor on all items.

Betty Funk - finance committee speaking -- voted 7-0-0. Hope that Town Meeting members understand there is a significant long-range plan for the Public Works departments. Most of that information is on the website.

Ways & Means - standing committee chair Audrey Hall - TMM3 speaking - voted to support this article except for one 9-2-0. 'A18E Ways & Means will pass on.

Standing committee Public Works - Dennis Paulsen chair speaking --

Item #740 Flusher truck -- committee had questions on this.
$323,194 - expensive truck.
Voted 8-0-0 in favor.

7:46 p.m. CFO will read the list and Town Meeting member may pass on any item to discuss it.

Editor's Note: Town Meeting member Maureen Dunne has asked for reconsideration of Article 17AG, according to Framingham Town Clerk Valerie Mulvey

Passed items were 
a18A
A18D
A18E
A18M

VOTE on the other articles - hand vote - passed.

Town Meeting member Judy Grove - precinct 15 - speaking on A18A - issue with trucks and purchasing

CFO -- answering - all purchases go through the purchasing department.

Grove - could all the trucks come at the same time - believe purchasing 28 vehicles at about $4 million.

CFO -- There is a report that tells you how much is the equipment. Just a suggestion.

Is maintenance done by each department? - Grove

Plows requested by parks & rec, DPW & school department?

CFO -- DPW fleet management department -- overarching department that guides vehicle maintenance. All the other mechanics all consult with DPW mechanics.

Moderator -- 2.3rd vote needed - hand vote - PASSED - unanimous.

7:55 p.m. A18D -- Wastewater pump station - $400,000
Kathie McCarthy - TMM10 speaking -- requesting more information.
Oak Crest pump station is in our precinct -- questions to DPW

Are you planning to increase any capacity to that area or other areas?
Is this a priority due to building in that area? developments 9/90? tech park?

Eric Johnson - DPW speaking -- for the Oak Crest pump station -- plan is improvements - no planned expansion - upgrade for the current design flows.

Patrick Dunne - TMM17 - speaking - point of information. - brief presentation on the items that were passed. - maybe get more efficient.

Moderator disagrees.

VOTE - hand vote - 2/3rd needed - PASSED - unanimous.

7:59 p.m. 18E - water/sewer inventory control center - $130,000
Kevin Crotty - TMM - I supported under article 17 that was defeated.
I support this one.

Make amendment -- increased - $260,000 to include the $130,000 that was voted down last night in the water. - Motion made by Crotty.

8:05 p.m. - Moderator asks for discussion by TMM

William Labarge - TMM16 speaking -- what we have here is a multi-million dollar operation which is reposnible for maintaining our infrastructure. And one of the things they need is a tool box -- tool box is a $260,000 building.
That keeps the tools well organized. (Editor's Note: Thus he supports the Crotty motion)

We don;t them to spend minutes or hours looking for a part.

Steven Freidman - Point of Information -- TMM9 speaking -- can he explain what the $130,000 is for?

Crotty speaking -- add on what was rescinded last night from the water enterprise fund. - $130,000.

Judith Grove - TMM15 - speaking -- I did not say that everything would be in one maintenance place. I think everything should be efficient. Maybe have other departments move their maintenance to DPW.

We spend millions on their vehicles. We saw photos of rusted vehicles - I'm all for DPW -- I want more efficiency.

Maureen Dunne - TMM17 - background -- serve don the capital budget committee in mid 1990s - I was on the committee the new police and the new Fire HQ and the new DPW HQ on Western Ave.

Arguments heard last night were the same arguments heard years ago. The building was built too small - DPW -- We have an excellent DPW department -- rely on their judgement.

We are in the process of voting $24 million in capital projects, including water & sewer. This is our opportunity to make it even more efficient.

Gloria Gellar - TMM2 - question - proposal was for quarter of million just for a study? Can that be confirmed. Structure another $1 to $2 million, is that correct?

Peter Sellers - DPW speaking -- purcose of request - $260,000 - complete design for a facility that has been described painfully over the last two night - next spring - $1.5 to $2 million construct this facility - $155 per square foot.

Gloria - question - can that study be done for $130,000 - $260,000 is a lot for a study.

Sellers - $260,000 would be a fairly complete conceptual design.

8:15 p.m.

Bajakeian -- Motion to move the question.

Moderator - refuses to accept motion.

Bajakeian - complains to moderator that motion to move the question is Not debatable.

Moderador - says it is her call and will not accept that motion, as there has not been enough discussion by TMM.

Michael Cannon - TMM9 - speaking -- rise enthusiastic support of Crotty Motion. Opportunity to do this one time the right way.

Dennis Paulsen - TMM17 - speaking -- I also support this - there were things said last night that were NOT totally true. DPW was blasted for not knowing where every part is. 

We are asking them to account for every nut and bolt.
Someone pointed out vehicles that they want stored during the winter are used during the winter -- that is true. But it is better to store the vehicles in the garage and away from snow and salt.

You want DPW to know and be able to do things efficiency
Yet want them to use buildings not used for storage.

I know this sounds like a lot of money -- we spend tons of money on the school buildings.

8:20 p.m.

Audrey Hall - Chair of ways & means speaking - reminding TMM why they voted no last night.

DPW has computers and software to do inventory control and yet they are not doing it. DPW is not using the technology and not managing it.

Asked pointedly if do not get the building will they do the inventory control - they told ways & means no - we asked for a financial analysis - we asked if increase the life of vehicles -- no answers given - no information backing this up.

This department has done excellent work -- projects needs to be well documented and this one -- ways & means felt right now -- this project should be put on hold.

Hall still speaking -- this is not about whom you like - this is about a business decision based on facts. There are issues with weather - but not everything is required to be indoors. Lets use the computers and software first before we spend more money -- need to justify the addition on the DPW (western avenue) building.

ways & means  - we are not saying we never need this - just we need more information and we should use the software and computers we have now to keep track of inventory.

we vote you vote against this 9-2-0.

8:25 p.m.

Peter Pleshaw - TMM11 -- speaking - I have a couple of questions and then like to give a comment.

questions -- who is going to do the design? estimate?

Sellers -- DPW speaking -- individual that will be doing the design has not been determined. We have estimate from one firm and then it will go out to bid.

Pleshaw -- I voted no last night on the water -- $260,000 for a design on a building attached to a present structure - with no AC and heating - is a lot of money. Then want $1.5 to $2 million to pay for the building ... I see in the long range finances in this town increases .. I see the bond going up and up ... and will continue to go up .. and greater than 5% soon on the debt services. This money can be used elsewhere to improve the roads and the infrastructure. I understand difficult to dig out vehicles and needs from the snow -- but find it before it snows - good weather forecasting these days ...concerns for long-range approach - biggest issues faces town - debt.

This project is not needed

8:30 p.m.

Selectman Michael Bower - speaking I lived her for 22 years - DPW has been an outstanding department - one we can rely on. Sitting here last night - personal attack on Sellers - DPW Director - he is owed an apology - this is a department that handled $400 million in capital investments the last 4 years.

There will be an opportunity to decide is the construction is warranted at another Town Meeting. This discussion is to just allow the decide.
Sellers in his 8 years here has been attempting to control this inventory.

centralized location solves that problem -- design is 10% of construction costs - that is true with a new building. This expansion will cost about $1.5 to $2 million

This is a worthwhile investment - suggest Town Meeting support Crotty motion.

Bill McCarthy - TMM10 -- I couldn't agree more - except that DPW was not good 20 years ago. The infrastructure in this town has been neglected for decades. This department was a disgrace before the present regime. I think they are trying to be more effective. ... Vote for the ameded amount of $260,000.

Sean Donovan - TMM2 - speaking -- large # of expenditures -- somehow DPW is doing a great job without this building - lets defer for a year ... I do not support the amendment.

Moderator asking Jim Pillsbury if he is rising to make an apology.
Moderator told him to watch his comments.

Jim Pillsbury -- TMM - motion they install an inventory control system. This is bad business. 

I think we should rely on the facts.

Moderator taking Pillsbury amendment -- move DPW enact an inventory control systema nd report back to fall Town Meeting with results.

Moderator -- this is non-binding.

Barbara St. Andrea - town counsel speaking -- the motion - sounds like it is a resolution. should be voted on when article 18 is complete, in her opinion

8:38 p.m.

Town Manager Bob Halpin speaking -- full faith and confidence with Peter Sellers and DPW - urge you to support.

Betty Muto - motion to move the question.
About 5 people still wish to speak. hand vote - question moved.

8:40 p.m. Crotty amendment first
Increase a18E to $260,000 - majority voted needed.
electronic vote decision by moderator

77-57-3 - amendment passed

***

Main motion - 2/3rd vote needed for total amount of 18E to $260,000
Electronic vote
79-53-4 -- MOTION Fails.

8:45 p.m.

Pillsbury - motion - majority vote - not binding
hand vote -- moderator in doubt.
second hand vote -- now electronic vote.
In favor of Pillsbury resolution vote 1 for yes.

65-51-14 - motion PASSED

8:48 p.m.

A18M -- Elmfield Road Sewer Improvements - $1.585 million
Gerry Bloomfield - TMM1 - passed -- 40 years in Framingham never on Elnfield road - I saw $1.5 million - it is samll road - an 8th mile long - on sudbury/wayland line. what is happening?

Johnson - DPW speaking -- Potter Road, Elmfield and Griffin road -- complete replacement of that sewer line -- requires full replacement - paving on potter road too.

Patrick Dunne - TMM9 -- question -- asbestos pipe that is fragmented - cost to fix that?

Johnson speaking -- cost does include to cost to remove asbestos pipe
Must go to a licensed facility - closest one is Ohio.

Motion - 2/3rd vote neeeded
hand vote - no hands in opposition - PASSED

8:52 p.m. Complete individual votes on Article 18 -- need to re-vote the bottom line
CFO speaking -- $9,05 million now
2/3rd vote needed
Hand vote by moderator --no hands -- unanimous - PASSED

8:55 p.m. precinct organizations now -- moderator announced
Choose a chair, vice chair and a clerk and standing committee.
Call back to order at 9:15 p.m.

****
9:17  a.m.moderator is asking everyone to be quiet in the hall. 

ARTICLE 19

CFO speaking & making the motion -- Operating budget - $237 million

Moderator - asking people to be quiet.

Jeff Cox -- point of order - TMM14

CFO -- I'm reading a shorter list than the pink sheet - 

Gerry Bloomfield -- point of order/information - TMM1 -- 

Moderator - after motion is read - then the list will be read for passes by TMM.

Editor's Note: Town Clerk says Maureen Dunne has rescinded her request for a re-vote on Article 17.

Moderator speaking ... there will be presentations...

Presentation by CFO and then committee reports -- moderator

CFO -- request 20 minutes -- hand vote - pased

9:25 p.m. CFO speaking

start with Town Manager Bob Halpin speaking ...
limit increase in the property tax levy to 1.25%

talking about the new health insurance that could save the town about 17 million over the last 3 years -- re-enrolling almost 6300 individuals.

Show appreciate to HR department and their staff ... TMM clapping

Goal to keep avg residential tax bill increase to $100 or less.
Selectmen goal to limit increases to property tax levy to 1.25% or less and not 2.5%.

2015-2016 and 2017 that is the goals -- Halpin.

avoid going beyond 60-40 split -- to protect taxpayers -- Halpin

That is part of what happen in FY12 -- with the economy - said Halpin.

prepare for a new school in FY17 -- Halpin

school budget -- focus of a lot of back and forth between the superintendent said Halpin - question on what is level service s- did confront challenges the school dept faces with increased enrollment.

$564.00 was neededto convert King administration back to an elementary school
$300,000 for administrative offices to rent for schools

I think it is a good agreement
We do want to see  a turnaround plan for our challenged schools - need s specific plan in the level 3 schools - measures of progress are at each of the upcoming fiscal years -- Halpin

9:31 p.m. 
CFO speaking -- how do we build revenue
local receipt estimate
state aid estimate
enterprise
miscellaneous revenue
free cash
the above are fixed amounts - CFO

property tax levy -- 
Local receipts estimate is $19.4 million -- excise tax, rooms tax, user fees, building permits, etc.
growth was 2.2 % - CFO


State aid -- relatively unpredictable -- $46.88 million said CFO
Chapter 70 - growth of 7 percent
make adjustments at fall TM

Enterprise -- water & sewer rates -- growth is 3 %

Free cash -- use over a 3 year period -- it is neither free nor cash - said CFO Free cash certified for FY13 - $9.1 million -- that is an extrordinary high number. Typically we are $4 to $5 million.

Our policy that we state - $1.1 million in FY15 and put money in stabilization fund and capital budget (20%).

Use none of the free cash for general -- and use for FY16 & FY17- is recommendation this year - said CFO

Stablization - $639,000 -- need 5% goal - CFO - need 8%
capital budget -- typical 20% -- but as part of longer term goal -- recommending 25% or $2.284 percent

OPEB Trust -- typically 15% but now recommending just 10% - CFO.

9:35 p.m.
Try to manage cash over three years and not blow it all in one year - CFO

Property taxes - CFO --  impact on residential bill -- planning for an estimating $100 or less per year. Manage so it does not swing wildly for residential or commercial.

Use free cash to manage spending and to reach levy target goals. $1.69 million tax burden reserve. -- CFO

New growth -- $942,000 - 8 percent in FY15 and estinmated 9% in FY16 and 8% in FY17 --- CFO

9:40 p.m.

Recommend revenue - $246 million --- CFO
Spending recommendation - $247.497 million
Deficit of $1,254
Total deficit $1.4 million - CFO

We can vote a budget that is deficit at annual Town Meeting, but we do have to close deficit in fall town meeting and before tax rate set in December 2014 -- CFO.

Heath insurance reduction $5.2 million
Debt service increase $1.08 million

Fire department decrease
Police department decrease
Decreases due to retirements and replacements highed at lower salaries - CFO

Overall increase in municipal department -- $1.2 million

Increase in Keefe Tech - $361,000 - 4.4%

Increase in snow & Ice - $100,000 - 7%

Municipal priority 31 funded - $905,000
Municipal priority #2 funded - $282,000
Total Municipal service improvements - $1 million - CFO
17.6 employees
Deferred request -- $484,000 and 5.9 employees - CFO

***
CFO -- #1 municipal priorities
7 new police officers
Board of Health reorganization
Facility management reorganization
Secondary internet connection
FT assistant for permitting and construction for fire department.

Establish a seasonal & conservation traisl crew
Enhanced cemetery repairs
Add resources for benefit management and work comp
Council on Aging - specialty Alz program
Historic initiatives - Clayes House

Procurement bid & document software -- bring into 21st century as opposed to 19th century - CFO

Capital and operating budget management and reporting software addition

$7.25 million to support Framingham Schools
- 7.1% -- increase
Includes level services and rebuilding
seek specific turnaround for the level 3 schools (6 out of the 12 public schools). - CFO

9:48 p.m. Moderator asked how much longer.

CFO - final slide

This town has already supported the schools -- CFO


#2 priority -- economic development plan for gold triangle
add plumber for facility management
expand summer hours at library
restore two season camp directors 
add COPLINK enhanced crime software
assistant director highway & sanitation added

this is a well rounded budget - CFO

Build reserves to assist finances in school to mitigate size of debt exclusion. - CFO.
This is a 3-year plan and this is the first year of the plan - CFO.

***9:52 p.m.

Committee reports

Vice chair of the finance committee speaking - TMM14 -- unusually high free cash and the savings from the health insurance -- allows the town some financial flexibility and to create a forward-thinking multi-year plan.
Sustain level of services and begin to improve the quality of services
main residential taxpayers have been hit hard over the last couple of years
Town administration - raises levy by 1.45% annually over the next 3 years and not the 2.5%.

Finance committee - 7-0-0 in favor

Superinetndent - supported SC - Dr Scott goal is that each school at least level 2 by FY18. Better schools equates to higher property values.

FinCom supports the compromise budget -- but have concerns moving forward - believe difficult to achieve the Sc budget and the 1.25 tax levy .

The plan involves a large investment - FINCOM -- wants a SC update with metrics at each Town Meeting. Supt and TM did come to an agreement this year - it was not easy.

CFO -- creation of a new stabilization fund - needed for the 1-2 school project at an estimated cost of $75 million. - FINCOM supports this idea.

9:58 p.m.

Ways & means committee report - Audrey Hall - TMM3 chair speaking

Happy to share -- everything was given to us well in advance.
CFO had an abundance of materials.
Excellent process this year

This is more than a budget .. committee saw it as a stratgeic plan.
It takes a longer view.
Much needed rebuilding after economic downturn.
Since 2008 have had to meet deep cuts and growth had stalled.
Couple of year of cuts - 5 years deep - wounds bigger and harder to heal.
This plans starts the healing process.
New leadership team 
consistency in goals
shared set of goals and ownership

very refreshing and promising -- Hall

Planning to take Framingham to a new level

Budget designed around revenue of 1.25% levy increase.
Just a reminder that state law allows to accumulate the difference for future use

New capitalization stabilization fund -- an excellent strategy.
School budget -- additional 300 students - nearly the size of entire elementary school - Hall.

Incoming Kindergarten almost 800 ... Hall

savings from closing Juniper Hill - estimated at $1 million. To educate a population at 300 people -- will cost almost the same.

when the schools are ranked high - the town is ranked high and people are willing to pay to live here - Hall.

Standing committee quite pleased
ethusiastic supported most budgets -- 8-1-0 in favor.

***
10:05 p.m.

Moderator -questioning committee reports on Public safety

Moderator wanted to wait
Chair asked then is she should pass to give report.
Moderator then said give the report.

Kathie McCarthy - chair of public safety giving her report - 
budget is lower this year - both police and fire.
many retirees at the top of the salary and new recruits hired at lower salary -- more heroin overdoses being seen by the fire department.

It is an aging department -- fire department - McCarthy
Many questions asked and satisfactory answered.
Fire $13 million
Voted in favor of budget

Police budget -- McCarthy speaking
Police $13 million budget request too.
7 new officers
many question asked -- answered satisfactory
Department mission -- 
value framingham police employees
business conducted effectively
review of organizational chart'staffing
'civilianization
regionalization discussed

Hire the best and the brightest - working towards putting more officers on the street. - increase 99 to 106 officers - 7 plus

Funding 2 civilian positions -- crime analyst and information technology - adding these positions puts 3 officers back on our streets

10;10 p.m.

new smart 911.com -- was also discussed 
go online and sign up for the program
information confidential

department requests -- unanimously supports 8-0-0 in favor.

McCarthy now talking about the building commissioner -- discuss part on the task force -- 

Editor's Note: 80 members needed for a quorum and several Town Meeting members  are now counting to see if there is one as there have been several Town Meeting members who have left the hall since the CFO ended her presentation.

Moderator is asking McCarthy to quickly finish her reports and that she has gone beyond her time limit.

Point of information -- Dan G. -- TMm14 -- I doubt the quorum.

Moderator says she is not going to count the number of Town Meeting members as there will be no votes.

Editor's Note: I dont believe we can read the pass list if there is not a quorum.

10:15 p.m. 

Moderator -- you have gone over 10 minutes --

LaBarge -- point of order - TMM17 -- point of order -- wish the speaker would get to the bottom line.

Jeff Cox - TMM14 -- question quoroum and motion to adjourn.

10:17 p.m. ADJOURN






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