News

Brendan Fitzpatrick

December 11, 2023

Additional Financial Documents Provided to City Council

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FRAMINGHAM - The Framingham City Council was presented with additional financial documents as talks regarding transparency continued during their meeting Tuesday.

The topic of financial reporting has come up among the council’s Finance Subcommittee in recent weeks. District 8 City Councilor and Finance Subcommittee member John Stefanini called for an agenda item through the Framingham Home Rule charter for the most recent meeting in an attempt to have digital and searchable reports provided, a motion that could have resulted in a roll call vote, after he aired frustrations over what he’s perceived as untimely and incomplete information. Those details requested on the agenda were the city’s fiscal year 2023 checkbook, as well as all ARPA expenditures and all specialty account transactions, including what is featured in Mayor Charlie Sisitsky’s special event account.

Chief Financial Officer and Director of Administration and Finance Louise Miller told councilors that all of the data has been posted online. She added that the full list of all specialty accounts is included, but noted that it would take time to make reports of every one of those accounts. Miller also explained to Tracey Bryant of District 9 that the city is still working to implement open data through the OpenGov technology as opposed to the current tracking system used internally, MUNIS.

At-Large City Councilor George King, who is the Chair of the Finance Subcommittee, said he believes there is a good amount of the requested information available online after multiple requests have been made. Now, he believes working with the city’s new part-time accountant to coordinate proper reporting details and formats is the way to move forward.

“I feel like we have a lot of the information now posted online,” King explained.

“It did take some time to get there, and I think that was partially because of the lack of personnel in those departments.”

Still, Stefanini expressed frustration regarding accessibility and readability, telling Miller that most people requesting this financial information use Microsoft Excel primarily as opposed to MUNIS.

“All this data that you’ve put into the system in the last week is great,” Stefanini continued, “but it isn’t in a digestible format that we’ve asked for, nor does it necessarily give us the ability to look at things.”

Miller noted that the City Council had previously expressed their displeasure for the OpenGov software as she began her tenure in Framingham’s government, but added that she would be willing to bring that back into the fold as opposed to running MUNIS reports and converting them to Excel documents. However, the MUNIS-ran data is what has been published online for the time being.

“With respect to reports: they do take a lot of time,” Miller told the City Council.

“Just to produce this list of the special accounts required two staff people…to produce a report. The accounts have no names associated with them, so we had to produce a second report and have someone physically enter the name of every account so it could be a readable report for you…I can’t explain why that’s how it’s set up, but that is how it’s set up. If someone was able to produce to you reports, they’re not telling us that there are already reports that they were able to produce to you that were different.”

Miller mentioned that Mayor Charlie Sisitsky and his office are working on providing the details of his special events account. She reiterated that if Stefanini and other councilors outline what they need and provide time to extract and clean up the data for each specific special account, she would be able to have the information posted prior to the December 19 City Council meeting. With that, Stefanini withdrew the motion for a roll call vote.

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