Click here for important information on this event: http://frcog.org/event/agent-orange-town-hall-meeting-vietnam-veterans/
The FRCOG Bicycle Parking Program will provide bike racks for public use free of charge to towns in Franklin County. Towns will be able to select the bike racks that they prefer. The racks will be ordered by the FRCOG and delivered to towns on a first come, first-served basis. In order to be able to provide bike racks at no cost, the FRCOG must have a commitment from each participating town that they will be promptly installed. For information on how to receive free bike racks, see the Bicycle Parking Program information page.
This opportunity to receive bicycle racks is made possible through a contract with MassDOT, which will reimburse the FRCOG for the cost of bike racks through the Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.
MassDOT and the MBTA are seeking input to update the Capital Investment Plan (CIP) and need your thoughts and ideas for the next CIP. Visit the newly updated CIP webpage to comment.
This year’s CIP will be focused on revising fiscal years 2018 – 2021 CIP, approved last year, and programming investments for FY2022. Additionally, improvements to the CIP process include alignment with the annual development of the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The three priorities for the CIP are:
Within each of the three priorities are sixty-two funding programs that are filled with projects addressing the most important capital needs of our transportation system.
MassDOT is accepting comments until March 17, 2017. Submit a comment or send an e-mail. If you provide an e-mail address, you will receive a response before the Draft CIP is released in May for another round of public comment and meetings.
The Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization approved the release of a Draft Amendment to the 2017-2021 Transportation Improvement Program Highway List for public review and comment on January 31, 2017. There will be a 30-day comment period from Friday, February 3 through Sunday, March 5, 2017. Please provide any comments to Laurie Scarbrough by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to 12 Olive Street, Suite 2, Greenfield, MA 01301.
The Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization (FCTPO) approved the release of an updated 2017 Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) and updated Public Participation Plan (PPP) for public comment. There will be a 30-day public comment period for the UPWP from Friday, February 3 to Sunday, March 5, 2017. There will be a 45-day public comment period for the PPP from Friday, February 3 to Monday, March 20, 2017. Please provide any comments to Megan Rhodes by email at email@example.com or by mail at 12 Olive Street, Suite 2, Greenfield MA 01301.
The FRCOG recently hosted a workshop with Attorney Joel Bard and State Rep. Steve Kulik on the many changes coming as a result of the legalization of recreational marijuana. We have collected a number of resources for towns and others on our website. Click here for a collection of useful information on the new law.
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.
As it turns out, the rumors we kept hearing were true! We received official notice that the Fundware accounting software used by the FRCOG and by the regional Town Accounting Program will no longer be maintained or supported by its parent company, Blackbaud, beyond December 31, 2017. Staff are actively examining options for a post-Fundware operation, including searching for grant funds to pay transition costs, and considering opportunities for additional electronic efficiency improvements to modernize the Program.
To date, Accounting Program staff have viewed demonstrations of four different accounting software programs and are evaluating each in relation to the accounting needs of the Program member towns. Throughout the process we are searching for software that is easy to use, improves staff efficiency while using the software, and continues to allow member towns with populations under 2,000 residents to benefit from the software without needing to purchase their own expensive software licenses. With Fundware, all towns are able to participate in the Program under the umbrella of the FRCOG’s master license.
FRCOG has applied for state grant funding to purchase accounting and cash management software to be used for the benefit of all Program towns. Individual software licenses can be prohibitively expensive for small town budgets. Grant funding will help us modernize our accounting software and add cash management software that will help streamline the cash reconciliation process by more quickly and accurately sharing data between the town treasurer and the accountant.
Additionally, the grant application requests funding for consulting assistance to help develop and implement additional electronic efficiencies that will allow the Program to evolve into a more efficient centrally-located operation. More robust software should offer the opportunity to improve efficiencies and help modernize the Program’s operation so we can spend less time traveling and more time doing accounting work for our towns. We should hear whether or not we will receive the grant before the end of December, 2016.
Interested in what is going on at the FRCOG? Check out the updates provided at our most recent Council meeting!
The East County Transit Study examined the feasibility of initiating fixed route transit service to the East County region, which includes the communities of Leverett, New Salem, Shutesbury, and Wendell. Currently, there is no fixed route transit service to or from this area of the county, nor are there connections to other transit routes or providers. A survey was conducted of all households in the four-town area, with a very strong response rate. While it does appear that there is potential demand for a form of transit service, current funding levels do not support start-up at this time.