If a majority of Franklin voters say “yes” to a referendum on the November 6, 2018, ballot to add three Franklin police officers, they will be approving an additional property tax increase for the next 18 years.
My guess is the overwhelming majority of Franklin voters has no idea that would happen. Why? Because they weren’t told. Because the city of Franklin administration has kept this silent. Because they don’t want you to know.
Voters will go to the polls sadly mistaken, believing they are approving a one-time tax increase. Not even close.
On August 21, 2018, the Franklin Common Council was forced to make a decision it preferred not to on a public safety referendum because public surveys on the issue were returned that were a complete disappointment to the Common Council members. They wanted to go to the public demanding the moon. Instead they had to settle for far less.
Even so, asking for three more police officers would be as simple a task as Mike Tyson in the ring against Pee Wee Herman.
Where do I vote “yes” and how fast can I do it?
I conceded as much on my blog.
Recently the latest city of Franklin newsletter in all its sexy splendor arrived at our house, and I perused from cover to cover where I always do…at the dinner table.
And the following jumped out at me like that thing in “Alien” on that poor guy’s face. It was the wording for that November referendum that I had not seen before. See if anything jumps out at you.
Under state law, the increase in the levy of the City of Franklin for the tax to be imposed for the next fiscal year, 2019, is limited to 0.89%, which results in a levy of $20,833,667.
Shall the City of Franklin be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year, 2019, and on an ongoing basis, for the purpose of closing current staffing shortages by hiring three new police officers, by a total of 2.55%, which results in a levy of $21,364,925?
OK. Fine. Anything?
and on an ongoing basis
Something wasn’t passing the stink-o-meter.
So I asked Franklin’s exceptional City Clerk Sandi Wesolowski to provide me an explanation of what “and on an ongoing basis” meant.
As usual she responded quickly with a city document that I quote from.
A “yes” vote will allow the City of Franklin to increase the total City property tax levy to pay for adding three new police officers, which will help to close a current staffing shortage that is premised on a comparison to other similar and nearby communities and on calls-for-service. The increase in levy for this purpose will be $531,258 beginning for next fiscal year, 2019, which is for tax bills issued in December of 2108.
Typo from the city there that actually meant 2018. And now the next sentence which is critical.
That same amount will remain in the base property tax levy for each year going forward and is estimated to fully fund the positions for approximately the next 18 years.
I listened to the tapes of the August 21, 2018, Franklin Common Council meeting so I could write a blog on this subject at the time. Nowhere did anyone mention 18 years.
I read mysouthnow.com all the time, the Journal Communications website that covers Franklin. Nowhere did I read a story about 18 years (not a criticism, just a fact).
If the city is informing the taxpaying public about 18 years anywhere on its website it must be buried somewhere because I sure as hell can’t find it.
Here’s what you’ve got. You’ve got a City Hall administration so confident the vote will be “yes” and I predict it will pass with no trouble that all remnants of government transparency have been trashed on this issue.
You also have a voting populace that has been duped into thinking when they vote ”yes” in November it’s a one-time, meager property tax increase. It’s no such thing. It’s 18 years.
The city put out a more than 3-thousand word explanation of why the police are important. I certainly didn’t need that. Our family’s support of our police department is well-documented and the mayor and police chief know this.
However, funding for the police became politicized, and never should have. Yet another example of why I personally am disappointed in the current management of the city.
A referendum was the wrong approach to funding additional police. Voting “no” as I will does not mean the voter is anti-law enforcement.
And finally, consider this.
Did the Common Council members who voted “yes” 5-0 on August 21 know they were voting for an automatic 18-year property tax increase?
No one from City Hall is talking about this. It’s not difficult to understand why.
Being willing to fork over more tax money for greater public safety is fine. That’s not my beef. Again, I believe the measure is going to pass handily.
My issue is the folks that pushed for and voted to approve this referendum are not being forthright and totally honest about it.