Franklin Council gives $7.5K to school board, schedules special election

Published 10:59 am Friday, September 16, 2016

The Franklin City Council voted 5-2 to give the Franklin School Board $7,500 to close out the current fiscal year after a lengthy debate during this month’s City Council meeting, held on Monday in the council chamber.

The debate centered on a request from the School Board for an additional $480,000 toward its operating budget, which had failed to carry sufficient votes in several prior council meetings. Several council members had previously voted the budget down over the School Board’s reluctance to participate in the council’s requested third-party audit and its inclusion of amenities some councilors did not feel were necessary, such as the purchase of new, air-conditioned vans to replace the district’s buses.

“I feel like what we’re trying to do is to ask them to shore up their procedures and policies when it comes to handling money in several different areas, and our auditors pointed out those areas,” said Councilor Benny Burgess, who represents Ward Two.

But Councilor Gregory McLemore of Ward Three disagreed, saying, “The school board is satisfied that they have addressed all our concerns. We have no authority to tell them how to spend the money that they have. Our two duties are to appoint and to fund. If the school board does not plan on participating in any audit, I think we are just being stubborn and wasting the taxpayers’ time.”

Other topics discussed at the meeting included the upcoming special election to fill the vacant Ward Six council seat, which council voted unanimously to schedule for May 2, 2017, and a public hearing on whether to re-lease the drive-through ATM in the Department of Social Services building to Bank of America for a five-year term at $100 per month, with the option to renew at the end of the term. The motion to re-lease also passed unanimously.

Franklin’s Chief of Police, Phillip Hardison, made a special presentation recognizing the efforts of Officer Stephanie Sumter for saving the life of a 16-month-old child reported choking at a local McDonalds, and Ritchie Artis, 17, an honorary member of the Franklin Police Department, who died of cancer in August.

Franklin resident Thomas Council also made a presentation during citizens’ time to request that the council continue the work of the currently suspended recreation advisory board.

The next City Council meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m.