City offices ask for $46.7M

Published 11:13 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2019


Over the course of two budget work sessions — held March 4 and 7 — each department of the City of Franklin’s municipal government made its funding request to the members of City Council for fiscal year 2019-2020. The total from all department requests is $46.7 million, which is approximately $1.1 million less than the amended 2018-2019 fiscal year budget of $47.8 million.

According to City Manager Amanda Jarratt, in spite of this overall decrease, there remains a roughly $2 million gap between the total budget requests and the city’s anticipated revenues for the coming fiscal year. This means the city will be unable to fully fund every request unless it can identify new sources of income.

About $1.5 million of this gap is due to revenues appropriated into the city’s 2018-2019 amended budget throughout the current fiscal year, which are not planned to recur in 2019-2020. These included $560,000 appropriated from the city’s unassigned general fund balance; $286,000 in transfers from the city’s water/sewer and solid waste funds; and $677,000 in vacancy savings from unfilled positions.

Of the $46.7 million in total department requests, $24.2 million (excluding capital improvement projects) would come from the city’s general fund. When factoring in the money the city’s general fund receives each year from the city’s water fund, electric fund and other enterprise funds, Jarratt said, the total general fund requests are only about $300,000 more than the approved general fund budget for the current fiscal year.

Though some departments requested substantial increases in funding, others, such as Information Technology, were able to plan for funding cuts. When asked to elaborate on some of the increases, Jarratt said the city is estimating its contract cost for grass cutting to go up significantly based on last year’s bids. She added that the department requests include full staffing for Public Works, Franklin Police, Fire and EMS, which were not budgeted to be fully staffed for the current fiscal year.

When Jarratt asked the council for direction as to whether she should plan on including a tax or fee increase in her proposed budget, or make cuts to personnel and services, Mayor Frank Rabil seemed willing to consider some type of increase.

“We haven’t had an increase in two years,” Rabil said. “The last one was just for the schools; it was 3 cents.”

However, Councilman Greg McLemore said he would not vote to ask Franklin’s citizens for more money unless the city made “drastic cuts” first.

“We cannot spend money that we do not have revenues coming in to cover,” McLemore said, and instead of a tax or fee increase, suggested cutting the salaries of the city’s highest paid employees.

He also questioned why the city continues to fund its airport, calling the facility a “losing operation.” The city’s airport fund, according to Jarratt, operates at a deficit and has done so since the city acquired the facility years ago — owing to the fact that its fuel sales and hangar rental fees do not offset its operational expenses. As such, it is subsidized by the city’s general fund.

Responding to McLemore, Airport Manager Jimmy Gray said that the airport operates as part of the region’s transportation system, much like U.S. Route 58, and contributes to the region’s economic development. Councilman Bobby Cutchins agreed with Gray, saying he believed the airport provided a draw to the area for businesses that might otherwise not choose to locate in or near Franklin. He added that he did not believe a budget work session was the proper time or place for a discussion on whether the city needs an airport.

The next Franklin City Council budget work session will be on Monday, March 18 at 6 p.m. in the council chamber of City Hall.