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New Accounting Software Required

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.

FRCOG Program Updates

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:

Click here for July 2016 Updates

Coalition Educates on Youth Marijuana Use

In November, MA residents will vote on the question of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.  Whether or not this legislation passes – and how this legislation is implemented if passed – will have a significant impact on the use of marijuana by young people.  The FRCOG’s Partnership for Youth, as part of their work with the Communities That Care Coalition, has developed a presentation on what we know about the effects of marijuana on young people, and what works in preventing youth use.  Partnership for Youth staff have provided this presentation at several community venues this spring, including as part of the Selectboard Essentials series.

In July staff hosted a “Training of Trainers” where they trained a small group of community leaders (including staff from Clinical and Support Options, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Greenfield’s Safe Schools Safe Streets Coalition, the Opioid Task Force, and the Collaborative for Educational Services) to be part of an informal Speakers Bureau on this topic.  If you are interested in learning more or in setting up a presentation for your community, please contact Kat at kallen@frcog.org.

Rural Policy Advisory Commission kicks off in Greenfield

Massachusetts’ new Rural Policy Commission held its first meeting at the Olver Transit Center recently.  Franklin County representatives on the Commission include our own Linda Dunlavy (who was elected Treasurer) and local realtor Corinne Fitzgerald.

The Commission will serve as a research body for issues critical to the welfare and vitality of rural communities and, according to its creating legislation, shall: study, review and report on the status of rural communities and residents in the commonwealth; advise the general court and the executive branch of the impact of existing and proposed state laws, policies and regulations on rural communities; advance legislative and policy solutions that address rural needs; advocate to ensure that rural communities receive a fair share of state investment; promote collaboration among rural communities to improve efficiency in delivery of services; and develop and support new leadership in rural communities.

The Commissioners decided to organize into four subcommittees and to meet again in September. Interested in learning more about what the Commission will do? Check out the webpage here.

Presentation on Rural MA June 10 2016

Recorder article about the event

Commission Members are sworn in.

Commission Members are sworn in.

Presentation on the demographics of rural Massachusetts

Presentation on the demographics of rural Massachusetts

Senator Rosenberg and DHCD Undersecretary Kornegay kick off the day.

Senator Rosenberg and DHCD Undersecretary Kornegay kick off the day.

New Regional Sign-Making Machine

FRCOG is pleased to announce the purchase of a new shared resource for Franklin County’s municipalities.  Greenfield’s DPW is now hosting a regional sign making machine that is considerably faster than the previous one, and can be used by any town that has received the training and signed a regional Memorandum of Understanding.

The machine’s purchase was made possible through funds from the Baker/Polito Administration’s District Local Technical Assistance program.

For questions about the project, contact bids@frcog.org

Click here for a video from GCTV on the new regional equipment

click here for a Facebook post about the project

 

Staff from Orange and Greenfield making a Stop Sign

Staff from Orange and Greenfield making a Stop Sign

Marijuana Workshop for Municipal Leaders

Local municipal leaders need to prepare themselves to have an opinion on the upcoming legalization ballot question. Join the Communities That Care Coalition and Greenfield Health Department for a 5/19 workshop on the shifting landscape of marijuana in Franklin County/North Quabbin, and an update on what we know now about the drug and its effects on developing brains.

Click here for more information on the workshop.

RSVP for the workshop by clicking here.

 

New MA Climate Change Report

Click here to review UMass’ new Climate Change Report, filled with great data and charts to help you think about the future of our community.

Important step in using churches as shelters

Using a church to house overnight guests for an emergency, march/demonstration, athletic or educational event? Read on!

In the last few months, the Franklin County Cooperative Inspection Program has become aware that there are churches that have been using their facilities as temporary overnight shelters for various community events.  While these facilities are generally suitable to house a considerable number of overnight guests, they may or may not be considered safe.  In an effort to assure a reasonable degree of safety for such uses, The Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards has provided a legal means of permitting this use in the State Building Code.

In short, a church cannot use its facilities as an overnight shelter unless a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy is issued by the Building Official after a mutual inspection is done with the Fire Chief and Board of Health and all officials agree that the temporary use will be reasonably safe.  If you would like to apply for a permit, please feel free to call  or email James Hawkins, Building Commissioner at extension 113.

Some of the beautiful churches in our region:

TownHall&Church Baptist Church @ cemetery rte 112 Buckland--Mary Lyon Church (MHC 106) & Grange Hall (MHC 107) Advent Church in Shelburne Falls

FRCOG FY17 Budget

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 lindad@frcog.org with questions or if you would like us to attend any of your meetings.