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Here are the updates we gave our Council members at their quarterly meeting on July 20 – full of information on the work of the staff and committees over the last quarter!
We are pleased to announce that July 1, 2017, marked the FRCOG’s 20th birthday. In the two decades since the FRCOG Charter was enacted by vote of all 26 Franklin County towns, we have been honored to work on behalf of all of you on many diverse projects, including town accounting, brownfields redevelopment, teen substance abuse prevention, health and building inspection, and planning for healthy and vibrant communities. All summer we will be celebrating our history of working together as a region by digging into our archives to highlight what the towns of Franklin County have achieved together through the FRCOG. You can follow our daily posts of historical milestones on Facebook and on Twitter
Not on social media? You can see the posts here: 20th anniversary posts through Sept 6
Also — no big anniversary is complete without a party! Please join us on Friday, October 13 from 3-5:30 for an anniversary celebration! Click here for flyer with all the details!
FRCOG’s Annual Reports for 2016 are online and available!
Click here to see the full regional report.
Click here to find your town’s appendix. These appendices include just the town-specific work done, and were distributed to each town bound into the back of the full Regional Report.
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 learning a bit more about what has been happening here at the FRCOG in the last three months? Check out the updates presented to our Council members on July 21:
In January the FRCOG Council endorsed the FRCOG’s FY2017 budget. Budget highlights budget are:
- 6% increase to health insurance, as voted by the Hampshire Insurance Trust.
- OPEB payment of $150,000.
- 2% Increase to staff wages.
- Using new revenues and with no financial impact to towns, staffing in the Finance Department increased to include a part-time Grant Fiscal Manager.
- Minor increases to audit costs, staff training and development, and special project costs.
- Capital expense of $11,000 to purchase a new server and associated software and equipment.
This results in a small increase to the Regional Services Assessment of 1.7%. There is also very little change to assessments for participation in the Municipal Service Programs: Cooperative Purchasing, Cooperative Public Health Service, Town Accounting, and the Franklin County Cooperative Inspection Program.
View the Budget and/or the Budget Development Workbook, with detailed and transparent information about the FRCOG’s finances. FRCOG staff are always available to meet with Select Boards and/or Finance Committees and attend Town Meeting to explain the FRCOG budget. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or if you would like us to attend any of your meetings.
In March, FRCOG Town Accounting Program staff attended the education and training program held annually at UMass-Amherst and sponsored by the Massachusetts Municipal Auditors and Accountants Association (MMAAA). The two and a half day training program offers four tracks of study depending on the level of experience of the accountant: from just getting started in the field up to continuing education for experienced staff. We are committed to training our staff and we budget each year for the MMAAA school, which is the primary formal training program for municipal accountants in Massachusetts.
We were pleased to be able to send our newest staff member, Stacey Mousseau, to get her foundation training in track 1 this year. Stacey, who is also the Treasurer for the Town of Bernardston, is well-versed in municipal and school finance. She is a quick study and will soon be handling the accounting work in two towns for the FRCOG.
Hiring Stacey remedies a short-handed situation that presented several challenges for Program staff during the transition from FY15 to FY16 as well as during the process of closing the FY15 accounting books in 12 member towns. We appreciate the patience of town officials as our staff worked diligently through the closeout process.
Finally, we are hearing rumblings that the accounting software used by the FRCOG and by the Town Accounting Program, Fundware, is nearing its sunset for support by its owner, Blackbaud. We have a verbal promise that support will continue for at least two years after an official announcement is made to discontinue the software. Staff will continue to examine options for post-Fundware accounting and more information will be passed along to local officials as we learn it going forward.
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We are pleased to release this season’s issue of the FRCOG Newsletter. Please let us know if you would like it emailed to you by clicking here, and read the information-packed issue here: 2015 autumn newsletter