Council members lay out plans for the city in the new year

Published 8:11 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On Dec.12 and 13, the Franklin City Council met for its annual planning retreat. With two new council members it was a great opportunity to revisit, rethink and recreate our council’s view of the city’s vision for the future. We focused on the present with our eyes on the future, looking out to 2020 to envision what we might become.

We want to preserve the many good qualities that we have, such as a sense of community, our historic nature, our aesthetic appeal to citizens and visitors alike and sustaining quality services with committed and knowledgeable employees. We want to continue well-planned growth and development while being financially strong and responsible.

Franklin, like all localities, is facing many challenges. State, federal and world economies are volatile at each level, so while planning for the future we need to assess their impacts and plan accordingly.

One of the best contemporary phases we heard during our retreat was, “We must all take a fresh look at all we do with a creative government mind set”.

To us this means the city, including City Council, departments and all employees, need to review their jobs and areas of responsibility creatively with the goal of streamlining and performing more effectively. This includes welcomed input from all citizens.

The following is the Franklin City Council’s vision:

In the year 2020, the City of Franklin, Virginia will be known as:

* A city that inclusively recognizes and embraces the racial and cultural diversity of its community;

* A city that is business friendly and invites diversified business development leading to economic opportunity for its citizens;

* A city that provides its citizens with a high quality public education;

* A city that acknowledges and finds solutions to the leading social issues that affect the quality of life;

* A city that encourages its citizens to participate in an open, inclusive, and visionary government;

* A city that is financially sound and responsible while preserving its aesthetic appeal and sustaining quality services to the public provided by committed employees and talented citizens;

* A city that has meaningful and productive partnerships with agencies and neighboring communities in order to develop more efficient ways to enhance services;

* A city with progressive growth and development that embraces its history, beauty, and sense of community.

Each of these statements will be developed with vision, ideas and action plans to define the city we want to be in 2020.

The two-day session created the opportunity for great interaction and consensus. We recognize the need to embrace our racial and cultural diversity making Franklin an even better place to live.

Our emphasis on quality and varied educational opportunities will be through support of and collaboration with our school board and their staff as they meet the challenges and opportunities of today’s educational environment.

With constructive citizen input and a more business friendly environment we want our city to operate even more efficiently and effectively while we maintain our aesthetic appeal and quality services.

We are in the middle of hiring a new director of finance and will soon be preparing to re-advertise for the city manager position.

We are so grateful to June Fleming, who has interrupted her retirement to serve as our interim city manager. Her style, grace and pleasant nature have served us well as we have benefited from her vast experience and leadership skills.

We are grateful for our committed staff and employees who have worked so well in restructuring our current budget to meet the 77-cent tax rate. We appreciate their support and efforts.

While many challenges face all of us, we look forward to opportunities of working collaboratively with our neighbors and agencies to create more effective and efficient delivery of services to our citizens.

We, the Franklin City Council, wish you peace and happiness during this holiday season.

As the year comes to an end and with the dawning of the new year, may each of you enjoy success and prosperity.