Council members must come together

Published 1:37 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

by Thomas H. Councill

The City of Franklin should have faced the realities of its current financial crisis a long time ago, but there is still a little time left to save our sinking ship.

The voting citizens of this community must come together and demand that the city council immediately revamp the current economic development policies and develop strategies that will provide our city with policies and programs that will aggressively promote economic development and job creation.

Prior city councils failed to increase our tax base. They failed to create jobs. They failed to stimulate our local economy. They failed in every way imaginable to tackle our lack of jobs and business creation.

For some strange reason our prior councils acted as if they could grow the city with a shrinking fee and tax base by continually increasing real estate taxes.

However, I’m sharing this information with you. Their practices can’t work. They have not worked. And the adjustment they made is insufficient and will never work well enough to bring us prosperity.

The secret to solving our woes is encouraging a diversity of business activity within the city. A good mix of business activities will increase the tax base, create jobs, stimulate expansion of established local businesses, spur construction and make the community more attractive to new residential development.

The current economic development plan may not work at all, or may be too slow to help the citizens who need good jobs now. It is outlandish that the current council supports paying Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. along with paying additional money to Hollingsworth to do what Franklin Southampton has already received money to do themselves.

However with this new council, a progressive path can be set.

The first step is to establish performance standards for city appointed and funded agencies, boards, and commissions that influence or can influence our financial prosperity and local jobs creation.

Agency performance standards will bring three broad benefits:

* They will tell the city how well the agency is progressing toward achieving our goals.

* They will guarantee that the city will know when goals have been achieved.

* They will permit objective assessment of the agencies’ performances.

For our community to progress, the voting citizens must demand that the council set clear, measurable performance standards. The council must clarify exactly what they expect from the agencies. Performance standards will generate superior policymaking information that will enable the city council to make better decisions.

The second step is to a establish jobs and business advisory committee with the following mission:

* Determine ways to increase local wages

* Develop a “Buy and Shop in Franklin” program

* Create an economic development-jobs creation master plan

* Identify non-municipal money that can be used to assist business activity.

* Develop and monitor performance standards of citywide economic development.

* Monitor the performance of Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. and make recommendations on the city’s funding of the organization.

* Monitor the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s welfare to work development program, and make recommendations on observed weaknesses.

* Monitor the performance of the Franklin Public Schools and make recommendations to city council on ways the public schools can support the development of the local workforce.

History has shown us that council members Greg McLemore, Mary Hilliard and Raystine Johnson-Ashburn have always been at odds. However with the new addition of Councilwoman Mona Murphy and Mayor Johnson-Ashburn’s recent victory over former Mayor Jim Council, the black Southside gained a majority of the council seats.

The Southside voters should act accordingly, and set performance standards for their employees on the council. Southside black voters should show political leadership and demand that Johnson-Ashburn, Hilliard, Murphy and McLemore immediately establish performance standards for city job-creating agencies and establish an advisory committee to monitor economic activity and create plans.

This newly obtained political power should be used to increase local wages and create jobs, and if they fail to work together we should start looking for new people to take their seats.