Franklin asks departments to tighten belts

Published 8:02 am Friday, February 20, 2009

As the city’s budget planning cycle for fiscal year 2010 begins, department heads are looking for areas where they can cut spending now.

Earlier this week, interim City Manager June Fleming also asked department heads to reduce cell phone use and drive their city-issued cars less in an effort to reduce city expenses.

This is just the latest directive from Fleming since she has been acting in the capacity of city manager with regards to financial cuts.

Fleming has called on department heads to reduce spending in several areas, one of the most recent being a hiring freeze on all new employees.

In a recent city council meeting, Fleming applauded her staff for finding ways to cut costs in various areas.

Also in that meeting, she specifically addressed staffers’ efforts to find funds that would offset a possible increase in waste management fees. At that time, Fleming said city staff felt a sense of “duty” in regard to such matters.

The tightening of the city’s belt has become common since Fleming has been acting in the capacity of city manager.

In July, Fleming called on department heads to comply with a hiring freeze of all new employees.

Fleming had asked that the City Council-ordered hiring freeze be lifted in December on the condition that she would only fill vacant positions that were the result of a termination or resignation. However, no new employees would be hired for new unfilled positions with the exception of vacant first-responder slots.

Police Chief Phil Hardison said his department is keenly aware of the necessity to keep costs down.

“We are always fiscally conscious of our spending,” Hardison said. “We are trying to be conservative in watching fuel costs and making sure we don’t create further waste by having patrol cars sit idling.”

Hardison said the upcoming budget year would be tough for everyone given current economic concerns, however, he pledged to “act responsibly” with regards to public safety.

Fleming said no definite cuts had been made as of yet.

“We won’t know exactly where things will be until we get the final budget approved,” she said.

Franklin residents will have an opportunity to evaluate and weigh in on the proposed budget before it gets approved by council. A budget training session on March 4 is open to the public.

Several attempts to reach new Financial Director Brian Stump for comment were unsuccessful.