Before we get into the specifics and details of this blog, first, a brief synopsis:
- The Franklin Common Council met this week to consider doing what they do best: spend money.
- On the agenda: spending money to remodel Franklin’s City Hall
- The timing: The vote came after,
- The mayor announced a property tax increase in his proposed budget and,
- The Common Council ruled in favor of a November referendum to add police officers because it couldn’t find a way to budget for those officers.
- The Common Council tied on a vote to choose the most expensive remodel option.
- Mayor Olson broke the tie with a “yes” vote.
Erik Hanley of mysouthnow.com was at the Common Council and committed as Charlie Sykes used to say, “a flagrant act of journalism” by reporting on what actually happened. This of course rankled some folks who don’t like the public knowing what they do. In this particular case that would be the mayor.
Hanley posted his article on the Franklin Area Community Facebook page. That also upset the mayor who ironically loves social media, but apparently not so much when his ox is being gored.
We’ll get to the mayor’s reaction, but here’s a sampling of the comments left on that Franklin Facebook page. Before you read further make sure you read Hanley’s article.
Now to the Facebook comments.
To be fair I’ve been attacked on social media by people who didn’t have the facts, who didn’t read my entire post, who had their own biases, etc. Here are some comments made by Mayor Olson on his own Facebook page with my responses that follow in red:
Yesterday the NOW posted an article on the decision of the Common Council to move forward with the remodeling of the front entrances to City Hall. They cross posted the article to the Franklin Community page on Facebook. The article resulted in a lot of mis-information, assumptions, accusations, name calling and anger.
The article did result in criticism from the taxpaying public. No surprise the mayor who has become increasingly thin-skilled was upset.
Sources of revenue to pay for capital improvements comes from long term borrowing, refunds from loans (Ryan Creek Interceptor), landfill siting fees (amounts vary year to year), investment income and transfers from other funds excess balances. Only the debt service on long term borrowing is charged against the tax levy (and consequently paid by us taxpayers.) That’s where the money comes from. We currently have a fund balance (savings) of almost $4 million in that fund. Thus, no additional money is needed from the taxpayers.
True. But it can also be taken as the city has all this money laying around that it can spend, so what’s the problem, folks? The problem is it’s their money, not the mayor’s.
Given that our fund balance for the capital improvement fund is about $4 million, a majority of the council and I feel that it’s best to do the better design that will better serve the community especially with the improvements at the Ballpark Commons, the library and the PD.
The “majority” of the council did NOT feel that it was best to go with the most expensive plan. Half did. Totally inaccurate statement by the mayor.
We also need to compare to our neighboring city halls, almost all are either brand new or have been substantially remodeled.
At the risk of not sounding at all analytical, so what? Who cares? Since when has City Hall cared about all the improvements going on in surrounding communities?
And for those who say “use the money for police officers”, this is one time money that can’t sustain long term commitment to being available and would be exhausted in about 30 months if it were used to pay new officers.
Absolutely true. However the mayor made a major political blunder, obviously not understanding the political optics. His argument is not persuasive at all. He claims Franklin is frugal, and that’s laughable. This is yet another example of how Franklin spends unnecessarily.
The people commenting here are smarter than the mayor gives them credit for who claims they’re misinformed. Not so. They understand the budget for the remodel called for $700,000 and then the mayor and half the council nonchalantly voted to nearly double the expenditure. All at a time when City Hall struggled for months about how to address a shortage of emergency personnel. But in mere minutes, BAM, let’s beautify City Hall so workers aren’t depressed.
The correct vote on this was a slam dunk NO.
Wrong project at wrong place at wrong time.