Franklin manager tells council financial picture still clouded

Despite certain financial numbers looking up, city manager Tracy Jamieson told Franklin City Council members Monday the bigger picture is still clouded.

“I just wanted to let you know where we stand with things and how that’s going to have a trickle down effect,” Jamieson said before diving into the numbers.

Jamieson said the city has been able to post “some” property tax revenues as of Monday, and while the figure is down from this time in 2018, the number is actually $100,000 up from this time in 2019.

“It appears that a good number of property owners are choosing to pay their taxes during the discount period … so that’s encouraging,” she said.

Less encouraging was the figure for earned income tax revenues, which Jamieson said is down $57,000 from this time last year.

“This revenue source is the biggest question mark we’re going to have going into next quarter,” said Jamieson. “We just don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

Figures for next quarter will be in around the beginning or middle of July.

Jamieson said another big concern she’s keeping an eye on has to do with the city’s pension plans.

The 2020 budget called for an estimated $400,000 in state funds to help balance the cost – a figure that had been “tight” already, Jamieson said.

“That is all impacted by the stock market, so if we don’t end up getting as much as we were planning on, we have to make that up ourselves,” she said.

What could be a silver lining for the city comes in the form of Community Development Block Grants.

Community development coordinator Sheila Boughner said the city is set to receive “about $6,000 more” in annual allotted CDBG funds than last year, but could see more.

“We are currently aware that we’re eligible to receive about $193,000 in additional CDBG monies,” said Jamieson, but she went on to add the caveat that “(the funds) have to be used toward preventing or dealing with COVID related issues.”

Jamieson said she and Boughner are still waiting for guidance on how the funds may be spent, but she said she is hopeful they can be used to fund public services, emergency responders and “providing some economic assistance to our businesses.”

The application for the coronavirus related CDBG funds is due by July 31. Boughner believes the city will still need to hold two public meetings to gather input as to how the money would be spent.

If the city were to receive the funds, they would need to be spent by Sept. 30, 2022.

In other business at Monday’s council meeting, a request from Franklin School District will add a splash of Franklin Knights pride to several Franklin streets.

“I feel we as a school district and a community are responsible for supporting them and encouraging them and showing them that we are still here for them,” Franklin High School assistant principal KC Miller said about the senior class.

Miller asked that the school be allowed to continue an ongoing city-wide effort to recognize the plight of the Class of 2020 by teaming up with PMP Printing of Franklin to create banners that will hang from the light poles lining each of the city’s three bridges.

The banners, which are being modeled after the banners that hang during Applefest, will hold the names of at least 10 seniors and a Franklin Knights logo.

Miller also requested permission to hang 3-by-5-foot flags along Liberty Street that will say Franklin Knights Class of 2020.

After a brief discussion, council decided the flags would be hung on every other pole to make room for the American flags that are traditionally hung in May to honor Memorial Day.

The motion passed unanimously.

As soon as the banners and flags are finished, they will be hung by city staff and remain in place until at least the first weekend in June – the weekend Franklin seniors were scheduled to graduate in Bandstand Park.

It was also announced the city’s farmers market began Saturday and will continue through the summer at the 12th Street island. Stalls will be placed apart from each other, and patrons are being asked to keep their social distance.