City Council approves 4-cent tax increase

Published 7:53 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Franklin’s City Council voted 6-1 on May 13 to approve its fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, which now includes a 4-cent real estate tax increase instead of the advertised 6 cents.

Councilman Benny Burgess made the motion to reduce the proposed tax increase, which was seconded by Councilman Linwood Johnson. Burgess’s motion also called for the roughly half million dollars in back payments that Isle of Wight County owes Franklin for a revenue sharing agreement to go into the city’s general fund reserves.

While City Manager Amanda Jarratt had previously informed the Council that a 4-cent increase would be sufficient to balance the city’s budget, Mayor Frank Rabil said, “I’d like to see us do a little bit more and have some reserve. Hopefully, we have no emergencies.”

Vice Mayor Barry Cheatham said he also was still in favor of a 6-cent increase on the grounds that it would help the city have extra money when it goes for a bond rating this summer, and could help the city reduce the subsidies its enterprise funds would need to contribute to the general fund next year. However, both ultimately voted for the 4-cent increase, which means the city’s rate is now $1.03 per $100 of assessed value. The dissenting vote on the budget came from Councilman Greg McLemore.

In addition to tax increases, the adopted budget includes a $35,000 cut to the Downtown Franklin Association, level funding for the city’s school division, and:

A hiring freeze for three unfilled police officer positions, two E-911 dispatcher positions, three firefighter positions, one payroll specialist and one athletic specialist;

Layoffs affecting the captain’s position in the Franklin Police Department, one airport employee, one city garage employee and one custodian.

The elimination of payments to volunteer firefighters and the elimination of the city’s emergency building fund;

Cutting the following: repairs to the Armory Field building, swimming lessons for children, the city attorney’s continuing education budget, and the purchase of equipment and network upgrades for the city’s Information Technology Department;

No cost of living increases for city employees, and the renegotiation of one part-time E-911 contract.

The tax increases and budget cuts will take effect on Thursday, July 1.