Town Holds Budget Work Session, Tax Increase Approved

At their budget work session Tuesday evening, the Town of Franklin voted 4-1 to approve a four-cent increase in the ad-valorem tax rate of twenty-eight cents per one hundred dollars of valuation to thirty-two cents. Council Member David Culpepper cast the one opposing vote made after a motion to increase taxes by Council Member Joe Collins seconded by Vice Mayor Barbara McRae. Council Member Adam Kimsey was not in attendance at the budget work session.

The four-cent tax increase will generate approximately $240,000 a year. The tax increase will allow the town to pass the budget without dipping into the town’s fund balance as originally proposed in the preliminary budget presented last week to the town council. The proposed budget, which didn’t include a tax increase, needed $239,211 in general fund balance to balance the budget. In addition, the proposed budget included town’s decision to make $71,500 in cuts in the budget including one police vehicle, economic development and improvements to Memorial Park.

Culpepper expressed his concerns that the town council should consider making additional cuts from the budget before approving to raise taxes. However, after much discussion, the board came to the consensus that there was nothing else to cut from the budget, and the tax increase was necessary to continue providing services to the citizens of Franklin.

The budget will also include a four percent increase to the town’s water and sewer rates necessary to maintain existing infrastructure, upgrade the water treatment plant and continue funding the town’s comprehensive improvements plan. The four percent rate increase only affects base and volume charges but not tap, connection or other miscellaneous charges.

In opening the budget work session, Mayor Bob Scott made the following statement:

“We are faced with decisions which will have an effect on Franklin for the coming year and possibly several years in the future. We must look to the future, just to say tonight that we will keep everything as it is, because that is good enough will no longer cut it. Just remaining where we are will not keep us on top and viable. We need to look at where we are going and how we are going to get there. We may well have to face an unstable economy, emerging issues which we cannot predict with accuracy, new civic cultures, new ways of collaborating across party and geo political boundaries and massive changes in our local healthcare. We must be in a stable financial condition to face these changes and capitalize on the opportunities that will be presented as the result of these challenges. We are seeing new residents with varying cultural, political and assorted lifestyles; we must remain in tune to these changes and not look as them as obstacles but as opportunities. As such, we must remain fiscally responsible while at the same time becoming more comfortable with our financial standing but be careful not to be frivolous. We must recognize that Franklin is changing, and we as the town’s governing board must change with it. We can do this as long as we do not get in the mindset that everything is fine the way it is, we need to do more than just get by.”

The town’s next step in the budget process will be to a hold a public hearing to get feedback from the public. The public hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 4 at 6:05 p.m. at the Franklin Town Hall. All citizens who would like to learn more about the budget or have questions about the budget are urged to attend the public hearing.

The entire proposed budget can be viewed at www.franklinnc.com/proposed-budget-franklin-nc-2018-2019.html.