Mayor Bob Scott was more vocal about the increase at the town's budget work session that took place on May 17 where he proposed a 2 cent increase.
“For many years, the town and county has bragged about having such a low tax rate and we have deferred things and deferred things to the point that now, I'm a little concerned about the economic development of this town,” he told the board.
A one-cent increase would contribute an extra $60,000 to the town while a two-cent increase would add $120,000. Though the proposed budget is at $8,033,500, the line item for the general fund under the fund balance sits at just $170,000, a low amount as pointed out by town clerk Janet Anderson. Any tax increase would help the total, especially the $120,000 as proposed by the mayor.
The public had an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed increase at the monthly meeting that was held in town hall before the board took the budget to a vote.
Franklin resident Angela Moore was the lone voice present to speak on the tax issue, proposing that the board instead look inward for the funds that would be gained.
“Managing a budget of millions must make $65,000 seem like a small figure, but this year it is a huge number to the taxpayers of Franklin,” she said, while pointing to the hardship that local families experienced in a tough economic resulting in many of them having to tighten their own budgets.
“Alternatively, the town board has chosen to build new facilities and fund a variety of non-essential services, and going into debt to fund these projects, debt that burdens the taxpayers.”
William H. Derrick also spoke in regards to a line item in the budget for Franklin Police Department where a total of $3,800 is set aside for the possibility of purchasing a drug sniffing canine.
“We don't need a K-9 unit. We've had two in the past and they died. One got too old and the other one ate some plastic,” said Derrick. “They're going to cost money. You have to insure them and train them. I saw a documentary on the History Channel where they said that only about 40 percent of the time do these dogs even find what they are looking for. I just don't think it's worth the hassle.”
At the moment, the FPD must call on the Macon County Sheriff's Department when a K-9 Unit is required for a situation which, according to Alderman Farrell Jamison, can take up large amounts of time for the sheriff's department and the police department.
When it came time for the board to discuss the budget, the members were silent, approving the budget unanimously with the tax increase included. Scott addressed the move afterward.
"The board did what was best for Franklin," he said. "I don't think anyone wants to see higher taxes but in this case, it was a matter of necessity. I am sure that the town employees and this board will continue to see that we provide good services as economically as possible."
The next Board of Aldermen meeting will be held on July 7 at 7 p.m. at town hall.