Franklin election could change face of the city

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To the Editor:

We have a very important city election in May.

We will be voting for mayor and new City Council members. Your vote comes down to this one thing. If you are happy with the direction the city is heading, then your vote should be for those running for re-election to continue this process.

If you are concerned that we need change then you vote for the new citizens running for office.

What are some of the issues? Are you happy with our $22-plus million city debt which seems to continue to grow and not go down? Are you happy with our above-average electric rates? Are you happy with the city manager taking funds out of the electric department, in most cases without all of city council members’ knowledge, and not only not putting it back, but not being able to account to where all this money went?

Are you happy with a police force down nine officers who are quitting for reasons more than just pay? Are you happy with a school system in trouble — a reason a lot of people with kids don’t want to move to Franklin — as well as a superintendent who spends part of his time in Richmond working for another group and not giving us 100 percent of his time?

Are you happy with an overstaffed and in, some cases, overpaid central school board office which drains vital funds away from hiring more teachers to teach our kids? Are you happy with a school system that allows a student to play sports with a 1.25 grade point average? What message does this give to our kids? Are you happy with a city manager who isn’t being held accountable for his actions — firefighters, hiring and posting of jobs when a person is still working or not doing background checks and spending our money in areas without the knowledge of all City Council members?

Are you happy with the way SPSA has been handled? Our rates went up dramatically last year and that was supposed to last a while and now the city manager wants to go up again. Going up even 1 cent on our rates after last year’s fiasco is unthinkable. Are you happy with a city our size the amount of money we spend and the number of city employees we have?

The federal, state, and many cities are cutting their budgets and waste, but we don’t seem to want to do this. No one wants to make this decision but we need city leaders who can and will. Are you happy with the plans for all the new homes? How are we going to pay for upgrading our city services and schools when we are now maximized out on what we can borrow? Where is our economic development? We have an industrial development area that has only one business in it after how many years?

Where can we go to work or have our kids work to keep us in this city and not have to move away? The pickins are very slim.

Also, talk to business people in Franklin and they will tell you that Franklin can improve a lot in being more business-friendly. Finally, the new city budget is, on average, showing a 10 percent increase in property values. In the housing environment we are in now, does this even seem close to reasonable? Look at all the houses for sale in Franklin and how long they have been sitting for sale.

Maybe it is time to lower this rate now and tell the city manager to cut the budget to make up the shortfall. Yes, tell him what you want done, versus him doing it and he tells you what he did after the fact. As you can see you have two choices. We can continue on the course we are on now or elect new officials who can address the issues above.

The future of Franklin is in your hands with the power of your vote. So please vote.

Don Blythe