Staying on

Published 9:03 am Friday, April 10, 2009

The best news in Franklin city government since June Fleming’s appointment as interim city manager last summer is the City Council’s decision last month to lift the “interim” from Fleming’s title — and her willingness to stay in the job a while longer.

While Fleming has been coy about her ultimate timetable for returning to the good life of leisure and retirement from whence she came, the council’s decision last month bodes well for an extended tenure and continued progress at City Hall.

City government has made huge strides on several important fronts under Fleming’s leadership. Perhaps most important, she has helped restore trust between city government and the citizenry — a relationship that had become frayed in recent years. Fleming’s commitment to candor and openness has been refreshing. She also has been a terrific partner in the City Council’s efforts to bring fiscal discipline and accountability to city government — from holding the line on property taxes during the current fiscal year to tightening up policies on vehicle and cell-phone usage.

Preparation of a budget for fiscal 2010 is well under way, and it will be, by all accounts, the most painful spending plan the city has adopted in many years. The pressure to provide essential services with fewer fiscal resources and to spare beleaguered property owners the sting of significantly higher tax bills will be a juggling act that only a steady hand of leadership can master.

Fleming, a seasoned government administrator, is well qualified for the task. Paying her a salary after months of free service is a small price to pay for the excellent leadership she will provide.