By the Town Charter, the 9-member Town Council serves as the legislative body that sets policy, including bylaws, rules, regulations and other orders for the community. The Council governs its own proceedings, town functions, and all matters bearing on the exercise of its powers and duties.
Town Council members receive no compensation for service but may be allowed expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties. Any registered voter of Franklin is eligible for election to Town Council.
The Town Council serves as the Local Licensing Authority for Alcoholic Beverages Licenses. The Council also has several subcommittees, including Budget, Capital Budget and Economic Development.
The Town Council appoints a finance committee. The finance committee is responsible for the town budget reviewing and approving the budgets submitted by the schools, DPW and police/fire EMS.
Franklin Town Budget, Terms You Need to Know
Unfunded mandates - state or federal laws that require Franklin to take certain actions, but does not provide funding for the required measures.
Proposition 2 1/2 (Mass. Gen. L. c. 59, § 21C) is a Massachusetts statute that limits property tax assessments and automobile excise taxes by Massachusetts municipalities. The name of the initiative refers to the 2.5% ceiling on total property taxes annually as well as the 2.5% limit on property tax increases. Under the law, Franklin is subject to two property tax limits:
Ceiling: This means that the total annual property tax revenue raised by Franklin cannot exceed 2.5% of the assessed value of all taxable property contained in it.
Increase limit: Property taxes can’t be raised more than 2.5%, plus any amount attributable to taxes from new real property.
The property tax limits are the sum of: (a) residential real property; (b) commercial real property; (c) industrial real property; and (d) business-owned personal property.
Debt Exclusion: Proposition 2 1⁄2 allows a community to raise funds for certain purposes above the amount of its tax ceiling. A community can assess taxes in excess of its tax limit or levy tax for the payment of specified debt service costs. An example of a debt exclusion was the funds for the new high school. Debt exclusions require voter approval.
Override: Proposition 2 1⁄2 allows a community to assess taxes in excess of the automatic annual 2.5 percent increase, this is called an override. A community may take this action as long as it is below its level ceiling, or 2.5 percent of full and fair cash value. When an override is passed, the tax limit for the year is calculated by including the amount of the override. The override results in a permanent increase in the tax limit of the community which, as part of the tax limit base, increases at the rate of 2.5 percent each year.
To put the question of an override on the ballot, a majority vote of the Franklin Town Council must vote to place the override question on the ballot. Override questions must be presented in dollar terms and must specify the purpose of the override.
Stormwater Utility: A Stormwater Utility is collected to maintain and improve a community’s stormwater system. Franklin’s current stormwater system is used to protect Franklin’s drinking water, prevent flooding and erosion, and address regulatory mandates. Under the Utility, residents pay a fee to transport stormwater (ie: rain, snow melt) from their property through Franklin's stormwater system (ie: a network of underground pipes, drainage ditches, drains, rain gardens and catch basins) to our ponds (ex: Beaver & Populatic Pond), rivers (ex: Charles River) and reservoirs (ex: Franklin Reservoir).
This money is specifically earmarked for maintaining and improving our stormwater management system. It cannot be used for any other purpose other than to maintain or improve our stormwater system. The Stormwater Utility is the result of an unfunded mandate by the Federal Government, meaning the Town is legally required to stay in compliance with this order (without financial assistance from the government). If Franklin were to fall out of compliance or fail to maintain our stormwater systems, we could face thousands of dollars in fees per day.
How The Town Council May Impact You
By setting the Town’s budget, the Town Council has the power to shape our school system, police and fire departments, and streets and utilities. The Town Council has established three subcommittees of Council members and appointed two liaisons to address core policy decisions on major policy areas facing the community. Assignments are made after every two-year election cycle. Links to the subcommittees are included below.