Archive | December, 2016

Climate Change Survey Open

The FRCOG is in the beginning stages of developing a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Franklin County and is seeking responses to their Climate Change Adaptation and Resiliency for Franklin County Survey. This survey focuses on Franklin Town towns and how flooding impacts their infrastructure and natural resources.

CLICK HERE to take the survey. And check back for more information on the Climate Change Adaptation Plan, getting underway in 2017!

Trust for America’s Health Names Massachusetts as the Most Prepared State

Though the majority of states scored a 6 out of 10 or lower in the Trust for America’s Health’s report on Health Emergency Preparedness, Massachusetts scored 10 out of 10! Massachusetts has been recognized by the Trust as the most prepared state in the nation when it comes to preventing, responding to, and recovering from public health emergencies such as disease outbreaks, bioterrorism, and natural and manmade disasters.

According to Mary Clark, Director of Preparedness & Emergency Management at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, “Massachusetts’ score reflects work across the Department on health security preparedness, flu vaccination, climate change readiness, food safety, healthcare associated infections, and state public health laboratory biosafety measures. The score also reflects our collaboration with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency which has put in place a system to support emergency access for healthcare staff and supplies during emergencies.”

To see what part the COG’s Emergency Preparedness Program plays in keeping western Mass. safe and healthy, check out our Program page, the Mohawk Area Public Health Coalition’s page, the Franklin County Citizen Corps page, and the Western MA Health & Medical Coordinating Coalition page.

Development of a Bicycle Tourism Plan

Franklin County’s reputation for first class bicycling continues to grow as the sport becomes more and more popular. In fact, the area was recently considered a potential Olympic venue while Boston was pursuing a chance to host the games.  Low volume back roads through the New England countryside allow cyclists enjoy the beauty around them without the conflict of city traffic.  A wide variety of terrain allows them to choose their level of activity – challenging in the hilltowns of our region, or more leisurely up and down the flatter Connecticut River valley.  Triathlons, dirt off-road races, long distance rides from ice cream stand to ice cream stand are becoming more common in our region.  Family rides along our bikepaths provide additional opportunities for all levels of riders.

canalside-trail-riders

Bicyclists enjoy the Canalside Trail in Turners Falls, a flat trail welcoming to bicyclists of all levels.

It has long been reported that bicyclists come from far and wide specifically to ride in Franklin County. Along with them comes the opportunity to enhance economic development and bring tourism to our area. Across the country, Planners are keying in on just how much the bicycling community can contribute to your town’s economy.  To that end, the FRCOG is kicking off creation of a Bicycle Tourism Plan.  This Plan will bring together many different stakeholders in the bicycling and tourism areas, and will conduct an economic analysis of what bicyclists currently contribute to our economy, as well as identify areas we can target to bring in more business.  Over the last decade the FRCOG has worked diligently to enhance the safety and ability of bicyclists to get around our region, from installing trailblazing signs, to producing free maps of potential routes throughout the County and beyond.  We are excited to use that backdrop to launch our next phase of bicycle planning for the area.

FY18 Budget under development

The FRCOG Finance Committee will be developing the FRCOG’s FY18 budget through the months of December and January.  The budget will be presented to the full Council at the end of January and, once endorsed, sent to all member towns in early February for municipal budgeting purposes.   Early identification of issues to be addressed during the development of the FY18 budget include:

  • Expected staff retirements in FY17, 18 and 19 that will potentially result in increased retiree health insurance costs and transition funding.
  • Potential increase to health insurance costs, especially with the current ambiguity of National Health Care (Obama Care) and possible reverberating costs to all health care systems.
  • Transition to new accounting software that could result in one-time technical support or IT costs.
  • Need to diversify grant sources to be less reliant on federal funding.

As always, the need to create a budget so far in advance results in some uncertainties, perhaps more true this year, but the Finance Committee has become adept at projecting conditions and developing budgets that maintain quality services at the most affordable cost to member towns.  To learn more about the FRCOG budget, refer to the FRCOG Budget Development Workbook.