Franklin taxpayers have less than a week (July 30) to fill out an emergency services survey distributed by the city of Franklin and paid for entirely by city taxpayers.
I’ve had time to seriously consider what’s before us and I have several thoughts.
The backstory and timing
This scheme to trick local residents into voting themselves yet another Franklin tax increase didn’t happen overnight.
This goes back to the Franklin Common Council meeting of February 19, 2018, relating to the Public Safety Services review by Mueller Communications. The following action was taken at that meeting, according to an e-mail I received from the city:
“Alderman (Steve) Taylor moved to authorize staff to proceed with a project for a Public Safety Services review, including an Options Assessment and Citizen Survey, relative to Fire Department services and some Police services for an amount not-to-exceed $42,000 and to authorize the Director of Administration to prepare and execute service contracts as contemplated for the project, including but not limited to a contract with Mueller Communications, subject to input from the City Attorney as needed. Seconded by Alderman Barber. All voted Aye; motion carried.”
Full details begin on Page 27 of the city of Franklin document pertaining to that meeting.
Of course, no one in town was paying attention.
Admittedly I missed it, too. And I don’t recall the website that supposedly covers Franklin, mysouthnow.com did anything on it either.
Early last month, Franklin Mayor Steve Olson (below, second from right) is all smiles at the groundbreaking for Ballpark Commons in Franklin, and rightfully so.
The mayor pounces
Recall that in February the city, unnoticed by just about everyone, laid the foundation for the survey ultimately seeking a tax increase the city could later submit that voters acted on their own to enact.
Now, when, the city wondered, when do we really go public?
Waiting for the right time to take advantage of taxpayers. This was it.
From jsonline.com on June 22:
Just weeks after a giving a warm welcome for the Ballpark Commons at a groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Steve Olson’s joy for the massive development turned somewhat sour when developers added a senior housing project into the mix, a change the plan commission signed off on June 21.
Olson did not mince words with his displeasure for New Perspective Senior Living, saying this was the “wrong facility in the wrong part of town for the wrong reason in the wrong development.”
The mayor’s comments came after he had defended placing a roundabout near the Claire Meadows Senior Apartments by saying, “Seniors complain they don’t like roundabouts. Well, how much longer are they going to drive? I’m sorry. It’s a plain fact.”
Again, the mayor assuredly didn’t mean it, but he was divisive.
If you believe social media is any sort of barometer, the mayor inadvertently set off negative commentary targeted at, in no particular order:
Emergency responders and what they charge
Seniors in general
A perfect example of wasteful spending, the survey was distributed.
The survey language
On the survey sent to residents the city writes:
The Common Council works very hard to be good stewards of taxpayers’ funds…
WHOA WHOA WHOA!
Let’s stop right there.
That statement is debatable. In my view it’s also laughable.
I have lived in Franklin since 1992, have built two new homes here, and in 26 years have paid obscene city taxes each and every year. Spare me the patting themselves on the back.
evidenced by the fact that from 2013-2017 total municipal property taxes stayed the same.
Commendable? You bet.
But let’s remember property taxes for that period of time stayed at the ridiculous amount they already were at.
What Mayor Olson conveniently omits telling folks is that during one of those years when he submitted a budget with a very tiny tax increase it took a series of budget cut amendments proposed by Alderman Steve Taylor to get the budget down to a tax freeze.
Why does the city literature mention the years 2013-2017 but not 2018?
Because Mayor Olson’s proposed 2018 budget called for a 3% tax increase, way above the rate of inflation. The Common Council knocked it down to a 2.5% increase.
The other day my wife asked a nearby neighbor if he had filled out the survey. His response came immediately, and I’m paraphrasing.
“If they need more money then why don’t they do what every family in America does and CUT something?!”
The survey does ask if the city should consider cuts as opposed to a tax increase to handle what we’re told will be an increase in demand for emergency services.
But c’mon. Does anyone who has lived here for some time and has been paying attention actually believe the city will cut anything?
It’s not that much
When you add the tax increase onto the schools, the county, the MMSD, etc, yes, it matters.
Apparently the mayor and City Hall are in possession of some crystal ball informing and alarming them that the need for services will increase dramatically and that the city just won’t be able to handle it.
This assertion sets up the elderly to be the scapegoats, and some, too many are now of that mindset.
Great. Just great.
It’s ok to be flat out opposed.
I know I am and I can live with that.
I’ve never ripped the police or fire departments in Franklin and I’m not going to start now.
They deserve our undying gratitude and respect. But this effort geared towards a referendum and ultimate tax increase is NOT the way to resolve this matter. Years of poor planning should not result in punishing the already beleaguered Franklin taxpayers.
And now the Franklin Police Department has been dragged into this, lobbying on their Facebook page. I can’t speak for the police but I can only think they’re not thrilled at having to go political.
You’re being scammed, Franklin.
From the expenditure for the survey to whom the city hired to the survey’s wording to the long-term intent of the city (which is a referendum) to the city’s talking point that if residents say yes, then the city is not complicit. Taxpayers did it to themselves.
We pay for emergency services. It’s called the property tax. The people who were elected who have the authority need to fix this. It’s their responsibility. If they can’t, or if their only answer is to increase taxes, they need to step aside and let others take control.