When Franklin Town manager Summer Woodard announced her resignation as Franklin’s Town Manager last month, she vowed to stay in Franklin through the budget cycle. Monday night Woodard submitted her final budget proposal to Franklin leaders. Woodard’s proposed budget calls for the town’s tax rate to remain at .32 cents per one hundred dollars of valuation.
The Town of Franklin endured uncertain economic times this past year. However, due to financial diligence by Mayor Scott, Town Council and Town Staff the Town of Franklin is in a strong economic position. Sales tax revenue is projected to increase $100,000.00. However, the Town of Franklin should continue to monitor investment earnings in General Fund and the Water and Sewer Fund. Investment earnings in both General and Water/ Sewer have been decreased to give a representation of what is expected to be collected. The Town should also continue to plan for unexpected revenue loss at the state and federal level. This budget allots $20,000.00 in contingency in anticipation of unexpected revenue loss or unexpected expenditures.
The Town of Franklin continues to operate in sound financial condition due to a healthy fund balance. At the close of fiscal year 2019-2020 the available fund balance as a percentage of expenditures of general fund was at eighty-two (82) percent. This is an increase of four (4) percent since the close of fiscal year 2018-2019. Overall, general government revenues are expected to remain the same. Based on current estimate general fund revenues are projected at $4,371,043. This budget includes an appropriation in general fund of $221,780.00 for Powell Bill. This budget also recommends a one (1) time appropriation from general fund balance of $418,736.00. This budget is balanced on the current tax rate of thirty-two ($0.320) cents per one hundred dollars ($100) of valuation. The current tax rate is recommended for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. The Town of Franklin currently has a tax collection rate of ninety-five (95) percent.
This budget allots for a performance-based payment for most full-time positions. Part-time and probationary employees are not eligible for a performance-based payment. The performance-based payment is a one-time payment based on the Town’s evaluation policy and is suggested for December 2021. This budget includes a two (2) percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for fiscal year 2021-2022. Life insurance premiums are expected to remain at current budgeted rates. The Town’s health insurance is expected to increase by ten (10) percent. The Town’s paid portion of dependent coverage for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 will be thirty-two (32) percent for spouse, fifty-three (53) percent for child/children and forty-eight (48) percent for family. Dental insurance is projected to remain at current budgeted rates. Property and workers compensation premiums are expected to increase by five (5) percent.
This budget includes one (1) new full-time position in the Planning Budget for a Code Enforcement Officer. This position is budgeted at the rate of a sworn Police Officer and includes all benefits.
This position is recommended due to the increased number of dilapidated buildings and homes in the Town of Franklin. This position would enforce all code violations for the Town of Franklin.
In Fiscal Year 2021-2022, $10,000.00 has been budgeted for economic development. This is accounted for in the Governing Board budget.
Other Professional Services:
This budget allots $20,000.00 for a peer support position in partnership with Macon County. This is accounted for in the Governing Board Budget.
The Streets Department is budgeted $23,000.00 for the completion of an ADA Transition Plan. This plan is State mandated and must be completed before June 30, 2022.
Water and Sewer Administration is budgeted $25,500.00 for a Water and Sewer Financial Analysis Zoned Rate System.
The Town will be working on securing funding for phase two of the Water Treatment Plant Upgrade and Expansion in fiscal year 2021-2022. This budget also addresses needs in the Town’s Water and Sewer Comprehensive Improvements Plan (CIP). Please see below CIP projects for fiscal year 2021-2022.
Replacement of two-hundred (200) water meters. Total cost is $80,000.00
East Franklin Pump Station improvements. Total cost is $159,000.00
Crane Circle/Lakeside Drive Sewer Line replacement. Total cost is $515,000.00
Clyde Street Water Line replacement. Total cost is $552,000.00
Allman Drive Water Line replacement. Total cost is $8,000.00
Apple Tree Water Line replacement. Total cost is $12,000.00
Capital Outlay Equipment:
The IT Department needs to upgrade the Key Scan System. Funds have been budgeted at $23,129.00 for this upgrade. Also, the IT Department needs to purchase SAN Hard Drives. Funds have been budgeted at $12,800.00 for this purchase.
The Facilities budget allots $7,800.00 for Tax Software Upgrade.
Wastewater Treatment Plant needs to purchase a conversion kit for converting the belt drive and an aerator. The total cost for this is $13,127.00
Water Treatment Plant needs to purchase a Forklift. The total cost for this is $17,000.00.
Capital Outlay Improvements:
Funds have also been budgeted for sidewalk repair and replacement. For Fiscal Year 2021-2022 the Town plans to address several areas in Town that are in dire need of repair and replacement. These areas include the following:
Harrison Avenue replacement of 630 LF of sidewalk. From 303 Harrison Ave to Courtney Lane.
Maple Street replacement of 1,100 LF of Sidewalk.
Installation of ADA Compliant Curb Ramps at East Dogwood
Installation of ADA Compliant Curb-Ramps and Crosswalk at Dan Street
Capital Outlay Vehicles:
Police Department will be replacing two (2) patrol vehicles. The total cost for the vehicles is $62,000.00.
Public Works will be replacing one (1) fleet vehicle. This budget allots $35,000.00 for this purchase.
The Facilities budget accounts for upgrading to LED lights in Town Hall. This budget allots $2,800.00 for this upgrade.
Public Works will be upgrading to LED lights at their facility. This budget allots $5,100.00 for this upgrade.
All debt payments are budgeted as required by law. General debt service principal is budgeted at $134,044.00 and interest at $9,406.00. Fire Department debt service principal is budgeted at $40,000.00 and interest at $8,071.00. Water and Sewer’s debt service principal is budgeted at $855,844.00 and interest at $138,594.00.
SunTrust loan for General, Water, and Sewer projects were entered into in 2012 and will be paid in 2024. The current total loan amount for SunTrust is $1,479,000.
United Community Bank loan was entered into 2020 and will be paid in 2030. The current total loan amount for United Community Bank is $444,410.17.
Bank of America for Water and Sewer projects was entered into in 2010 and will be paid in 2025. The current total loan amount for Bank of America is $1,099,350.57.
State Revolving Loan for Wastewater Treatment Plant was entered into in 2013 and will be paid in 2033. The current total loan amount for this project is $3,373,814.60.
State Revolving Loan for Water Treatment Plant was entered into in 2018 and will be paid in 2038. The current total loan amount for this project is $2,766,593.70.
Franklin Fire Department: Based on current estimate fire tax revenues are projected at $939,647.00 for fiscal year 2021-2022. The Fire Department’s current property tax rate is ($0.0545) cents per one hundred dollars ($100) of valuation. The current property tax rate is recommended for fiscal year 2021-2022 budget. Based on the current fire tax rate a modest appropriation from fund balance of $15,615.00 will be needed for fiscal year 2021-2022. Also, fire call pay for volunteers is expected to remain at current rates. Current rates are $10.00 for medical calls and $12.00 for base fire calls with a two (2) dollar increment based on certifications with a maximum allowance of twenty (20) dollars per call. A one-time bonus of $100.00 for each volunteer member of Franklin Fire and Rescue is budgeted and suggested for December 2021.
Water and Sewer Department: Funds are budgeted in the amount of $674,000.00 for Capital Outlay Distribution Sewer Line improvements. East Franklin Pump station is budgeted at $159,000.00 for replacement. Funds are also budgeted in the amount of $515,000.00 for Crane Circle/ Lakeside Side Drive Sewer Line. Capital Outlay Distribution Water Line improvements are budgeted in the amount of $572,000.00. Clyde Street Water Line replacement is budgeted at $552,000.00. Allman Drive Water Line replacement is budgeted at $8,000.00. Apple Tree Water Line replacement is budgeted at $12,000.00. All of the above referenced projects are part of the Town’s Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). The basin at the water plant only needs to be cleaned every five (5) years. However, this budget allots funding of $30,000.00 this fiscal year. The reason for this is to continue a reserve account for this project in preparation for cleaning the drainage basin in the future. The total estimated cost to clean the drainage basin is $150,000.00.
Water and Sewer Rates:
The Town continues to experience slow growth in water and sewer revenues. It is paramount that the Town of Franklin ensures water and sewer revenues can sustain expenditures and debt service payments in order to maintain existing infrastructure along with future water and sewer infrastructure.
Based on current estimates water and sewer revenue combined are projected at $5,211,972.00 for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. A modest appropriation from water and sewer retained earnings of $1,Sl7,772.00 is recommended. Withers-Ravenel completed a detailed water and sewer rate analysis in April 2020. In order to maintain the existing infrastructure, upgrade/expand of phase two (2) for the Water Treatment Plant, and fund the Town’s Comprehensive Improvements Plan, a modest water and sewer rate increase is recommended. A three (3) percent rate increase is recommended for water and sewer for fiscal year 2021-2022. The proposed rate increases only affect base and volume charges but not tap, connection, or other miscellaneous charges.
The Town of Franklin should consider financing for the Clyde Street Water Line replacement in the amount of $552,000.00 and for Crane Circle/Lake Side Drive Sewer Line replacement in the amount of $515,000.00. Both of these Capital Projects are desperately needed for the future development on that area of Town. The Town of Franklin should also consider using some money from the American Rescue Plan to go towards these two (2) projects.
Manager Budget Cuts:
The Streets Department requested funding for plantings and a water feature in the roundabouts located on Womack, Maple, Porter and Depot Street. The Streets Department solicited proposals for these projects and the total was $50,000.00. This total included a water feature at Womack Street roundabout, electrical boxes in all four (4) roundabouts and plantings in all four (4) roundabouts. However, due to budget constraints funding was cut for these projects. The Town of Franklin should consider using money form the American Rescue Plan to go towards these projects.
This budget for Local Fiscal Year 2021-2022 is balanced as required by law and continues to provide existing services while meeting the governing board’s priorities and policies. The total proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 is $10,522,662.00. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 addresses long term infrastructure planning and capital necessities for the Town of Franklin while maintaining a healthy fund balance and providing quality services in a cost-effective manner.
The Franklin Town Council accepted the budget proposal and will review it before meeting again to discuss potential changes.