Williamson AM: For locals, green remains the color of money

March 20th, 2010

Posted by kenmoore in News,Press on March 20th, 2010

Thrift trumps eco-awareness as ‘sustainability’ spreads

By Kevin Walters • THE TENNESSEAN • March 19, 2010

FRANKLIN — Richard Perko says he’s no poster boy for the green movement. 

So, how is it then that the president of Franklin-based Lee Co. came to find himself supporting Franklin’s Live Green Partners initiative kickoff this week?

Simple: Any ideological debate over the environment was left at the door of Puckett’s Grocery Wednesday morning. But the financial impact of using two-sided paper, recycling or turning down thermostats won the day.

“I don’t think we have to have the climate discussion first, which is the polarizing issue behind the green movement,” Perko said. “To me, this movement, from a business perspective, is just about being a good business person.”

The Lee Co., which is a home services/facilities solutions company, was among the 126 companies to inaugurate Franklin’s Live Green Partnership during a kickoff news conference this week. It’s a simple program that promotes companies using any of a number of steps to reduce things such as paper and electricity use. As a reward, companies are rewarded with a certificate and a window sticker to build awareness of what they do.

Though it’s a small step, the Live Green Partnership is the latest in a growing number of green-related efforts Franklin has launched. This summer might be the biggest, as Franklin’s first blue-bag curbside recycling program gets a tryout.

At a time when national debate about the environment is more sharply divided than ever, Franklin officials are stressing the economic worth of taking on sustainability-related steps, not the environment itself.

“Right now, no one knows if we’re having global warming or not,” said Mayor John Schroer. “You can’t argue (that in) a 100 years from now, our landfills will be better . . . though I think there’s truth to that. But you can really say ‘do this today and it will make a difference to your bottom line.’ It may not be great, but it will make a difference.”

One factor that might also be driving more interest now than ever before is that there’s growing interest in the community.

“The movement was already here in Franklin,” said Alderman Ken Moore.

Moore led a task force of more than 30 people last year to craft a citywide sustainability plan that includes a host of measures such as reducing waste sent to landfills and cutting energy use, among other things.

Companies large and small found similar ways to reduce waste.

At Mars Petcare in Cool Springs, employees recycled enough plastic bottles to create 2,700 small-breed dog sweaters, said Angela May, community affairs manager. Teams of employees created a plan to spur greater environmental consciousness, May said.

Meantime, the smaller family-owned Puckett’s Grocery restaurant in downtown Franklin did its part by turning off kitchen equipment at night, lowering thermostats and using more local farmers for some produce and meat

“You don’t have to be some high-end restaurant,” said Claire Marshall, manager. “It’s the little things, too.”

Contact Kevin Walters at 615-771-5472 or kewalters@tennessean.com.

Williamson Herald 3-18-2010

March 20th, 2010

Posted by marykate in News,Press on March 20th, 2010
City Administrator Eric Stuckey, Sustainability Commission Chairperson Ken Scalf, Alderman Ken Moore & Mayor John Schroer

City Administrator Eric Stuckey, Sustainability Commission Chairperson Ken Scalf, Alderman Ken Moore & Mayor John Schroer

Williamson Herald

By Mindy Tate, Editor
mtate@williamsonherald.com

With St. Patrick’s Day as the background, the city of Franklin and its Live Green Business Partners celebrated Wednesday at Puckett’s Gro. and Restaurant, a gold level participant in the program.

By the time the 10:30 a.m. program commenced, 126 businesses had agreed to adopt greener business practices that included recycling, energy efficiency and the use of earth-friendly products. Of that number 65 had attained platinum status, 23 gold status, 28 silver, 9 bronze and one partner.

“The Live Green Partnership is all about putting the community Sustainability Plan into action, into daily acts that we can do every day in our lives and businesses to show how sustainability works, not only to make a better community but to help the bottom line of successful organizations and businesses in our community,” said City Administrator Eric Stuckey.

“Plans are great, but action is better and that is what the partnership focuses on, is the actions that have made it happen,” said Stuckey, who worked on the program as part of a Leadership Franklin study group as well as as city administrator.

He said the most popular ways chosen by businesses to “go green” were to turn off lights, fix leaks, recycle, sign up for the city’s green tips, and to practice double-sided printing, all relatively minor changes in a business.

“The small things add up to make a big difference,” Stuckey said. Other members of his Leadership Franklin class were Rita Dozier, Hugh Harris and Daryl Hill.’

“This was just a great opportunity to do something that actually helps,” said Hill, who works for GAP Community Resources, which attained a bronze status. “We can see the fruits of it.”

Alderman Dr. Ken Moore, who is often credited with bringing the sustainability issue to the forefront with his desire to make Franklin one of the nation’s top 25 green cities, deflected the attention.

“I was asked to tell you how this whole thing started … I don’t deserve any credit because the movement was already here in Franklin to live a greener life, to live a more sustainable life, make it a more sustainable community,” Moore said.

“I am always impressed with how Franklin responds to challenges.”

Seeming to prove Moore’s points are people like Richard Perko, Lee Company president, who said his company’s interest in sustainability started in 2007 because it made business sense in dealing with emerging business issues.

“It really is about good business and good community involvement,” Perko said. “It started with practical business issues. In 2007, we were coming off two years of drought and while they were talking about new water sources, we looked at it internally.”

Lee Company installed efficient plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals in June 2008.  The result: by June 2009 Lee Company saved 243,800 gallons of water. To date, Lee Company has saved 312,700 gallons of water, Perko said.

“We followed that up when fuel prices were $4 a gallon and we have a fleet of 200 vehicles all over town,” Perko said, adding they downsized the fleet, chose some hybrid vehicles, installed GPS and reduced fuel usage.

In 2008, Lee Company began purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles. Today, seven Toyota Prius and one Ford Transit Van are in service with plans to add additional fuel-efficient vehicles. Lee Company has saved 113,385 gallons of gasoline and $288,000 since 2008.

In addition, Lee Company became Tennessee’s first Associated Builders & Contractors Certified Green Contractor and are one of 12 in the country.

“The message I want to get out is a whole group of people go green for a variety of reasons. I want to appeal to business owners – be good stewards of your resources and at the same time, you can decrease your impact on the environment.”

Claire Marshall, Puckett’s manager and daughter of co-owners Andy and Jan Marshall, said she was inspired by the huge turnout and buy-in in the community.

“When I started bugging my Dad about changing some of our bad habits, I never dreamed a whole community would come together this way,” said Claire Marshall, restaurant manager. “If a business like Puckett’s, a conventional, traditional business, we base everything on value, we can still do this. It is all about the littlest baby steps that get you there as a community.”

She thanked Mayor John Schroer for his support of the project.

“We deserve no credit,” said Franklin Mayor John Schroer. “This is a community effort. The key word in this is partnership. I think you will hear the word partnership in years to come. The city and elected officials understand that to make this place the place we want it to be, we have to do it in partnership with the community.

“It has taken hold, I think, better than anyone expected. It is amazing how many people are interested in this,” Schroer said. “We are rrying to not enforce this or push it down anybody’s throat but that it is completely voluntary and there is an economic and financial reason to do sustainability. If you research it you learn that sustainability is an economic advantage to communities and the more we push it, the better we will be and the better we will be environmentally for years to come.”

To learn more about the Live Green Business Partnership or other aspects of the city’s Sustainability Action Plan, go to www.franklintn.gov. The city’s Sustainability Commission meets the third Tuesday of the month at City Hall and its meetings are open to the public.

Moore About Franklin, March 2010

March 10th, 2010

Posted by marykate in Newsletter on March 10th, 2010

Moore about Franklin

Since the last edition, there have been two BOMA meetings and multiple committee meetings. The City is now in budget hearings and will be so into the summer.  A number of important issues continue to surface in these meetings and I have tried to highlight them below. The challenge continues to be condensing the volume and picking what I have interpreted to be important issues.

Affordable Housing-BOMA began considering an ordinance entitled “Inclusionary Housing Ordinance for Previously Approved PUD” in a recent work session. This ordinance will give three different options to developers that want to increase the density of a previously approved project. The options are pay a fee based on the number of units, renovate an existing structure for affordable housing, or include a percentage of affordable housing units. This is the first step of many to try on increase the inventory of affordable housing units in Franklin and to continue to create a sustainable community.

Blue Bag Recycling-BOMA passed this pilot program on a 7to 1 vote on February 23, 2010. It is a pilot and is an educational process. Most of us recycle because we think it is the right thing, it is ecologically sound, or our kids told us we should do it. There are other reasons we should recycle and this may reach those that are not participating yet.  The availability of landfills is decreasing and the cost for using them continue to rise. Transportation costs to haul our waste continues to rise. There will be less personal travel if a citizen decides to use the blue bag program thus saving fuel and time. The cost of new drop off site is estimated to be at least $250,000 and some of the current sites could potentially go away. Lastly, State regulation will mandate that we divert and report more of our waste stream. Over 80% of our waste is recyclable and is only a part of being a sustainable city. The HOA of Caron Bridge has already committed their support and it would be a positive sign if other HOA’s did the same.

Live Green Business Partnership-The City has introduced a “Live Green Business Partnership” to recognize local businesses that have introduced green practices into their facilities. Initial members will be recognized as “charter” members and will receive a decal, proclamation, and recognition in printed material for the kick off on St. Patrick’s Day March 17 at 10:30 at Puckett’s Grocery on Fourth Avenue. Already over one hundred businesses have qualified. Visit the City web site http://franklintn.gov for more information.

Small Projects Priority-$500,000 is allocated each year in the budget for small projects. Staff and BOMA just finished ranking these and will be discussing them at future meetings. The table shows the projects and their rankings. 

Staff BOMA  
1 2 Nichol Mill Lane from Mallory Station (Academy Sports area)
2 7 Jordan Road (Aspen Grove Dr to Mallory Lane
3 4 Beasley Dr/ Century Court Connector
4 1 Mallory Station Rd @ General George Patton Dr Signalization
5 t-9 Beasley Dr/Century Court Connector Extension
6 6 White Topping Improvements @Cool Springs @ Aspen Grove
7 7 Traffic Signal Update Program
8 8 Carothers Pkwy R turn lane improvement @ Cool Springs Blvd
9 9 Boyd Mill Ave Improvements from Downs Blvd to Franklin Green and signalization @ Downs Blvd
10 10 State Route 96 @ Southwind Dr Redesign
  3 Eastern Flank Battlefield Park Roadway Option 3
  5 Eastern Flank Battlefield Park Roadway Option 2

 SPUI vs. Diamond Interchange-The information that we received from the meeting of our Mayor and City staff with TDOT convinced me that we were doing the right thing to back away from the SPUI. This frees up over $4 million dollars that may be used for other City projects but it may be more important to slow walk this funding capacity rather than rush to use it elsewhere.

Police on New Schedule-The Franklin Police Department has embarked on a pilot project increasing their shifts from ten hours to twelve hour shifts in an effort to curb overtime pay. The project will be reviewed to determine its effectiveness and also acceptance from the force. Similar projects in the medical field and other police forces have found a lot of satisfaction among the participants.

Sales Tax report- The February report, which reflects December sales, was virtually flat from last year.  Sales tax was $2,479,639 compared to $2,491,017 for the same month last year, a decrease of $11,378 or 0.5%.  We fared better than the State of Tennessee whose sales tax collections were down 2.9%.  Year to date, the City has received $10.9 million compared to $11.4 million in the previous year, a difference of $579,499 or 5.1% down (prior to this month we were down 6.8% compared to last year). 

Fire Department Achievements-The budget interview process has begun and departments are being interviewed in Budget and Finance Committee. Highlights of the Fire Department interview are:

  • Achievement of an ISO rating of 2 (only four in State)
  • Automatic mutual aid agreement with Brentwood
  • All stations have paramedics and advance life support on calls
  • Fuel consumption was down for the department by 4687 gallons
  • Savings in vehicle maintenance because  the fleet maintenance group of the City
  • Response time to calls hover at four minutes average

City Pension Plan-This has been a subject discussed in Budget and Finance and also Pension Committee for almost a year. Involved in these discussions have been City Staff, Actuaries, and Investment Advisors. This subject needs some clarification since we recently “froze” the current plan because it was not a sustainable plan based on future projections. The current employs continue to be under the old plan and future hires will be under a new plan that is currently under development and promises to be sustainable and also continue to attract the quality of employs that we have. While America Aged by Roger Lowenstein is a book that speaks to this same subject in other communities and corporations.

Road Resurfacing-The City is currently on a twelve year cycle of resurfacing roads that they maintain. This is not a hard and fast rule but is a guideline that they use. At a recent Budget and Finance Committee meeting a proposed schedule was released to the committee for informational purposes. Funding typically comes from State shared revenue from the gasoline tax and thus there is variation in the ability to do these projects.

Electric Vehicle Project-Summer of 2010 is the start of the deployment of electric vehicles (EV) and charging infrastructure in ten different cities and five different states. With Nissan NA being located in our backyards, we anticipate that we may see some of this infrastructure in Franklin. This program is possible from a nearly 100 million dollar grant from the Department of Energy and will run for three years. The ultimate goal of the project is to learn lessons from the deployment of the first 4700 electric vehicles from Nissan and the charging infrastructure supporting them. There will be significant tax credits for businesses and for citizens that participate in the program. For more information go to http://www.theevproject.com/.

BOPAE Drop-off-Since this program was started in December 2009; 53,898 pounds of electronics have been accepted at the drop off site. Think about the clean closets and garages and happy wives!

Economic Development-Several years ago, a former Franklin mayor made a business case for developing tourism because of the financial benefits of having visitors leave their money in our business establishments far outweighed the services that we provided them. Franklin is a destination for many tourists and I have wondered from where they were coming and why they were here. A recent meeting brought to light the importance of organized youth sports and helped me understand their origin. This summer we will see a major event in our town that promises to bring in over one hundred athletic teams over a five day period and we will see our hotels at capacity. Estimates are that there will be nearly 5000 people from across the country for this event and who will be looking at our City and spending their money here.

During their stay, the City will collect a 4% occupancy tax on their hotel stay. Once cent of that will go to support the VCB, two cents will support retirement of the debt on the Marriott/Cool Springs Conference Center (debt will be retired in 2013) and one cent goes to retire the debt on our park land. To make it more understandable, each household in Franklin will pay $380 less dollars in taxes because of the influx of tourist. The City and County have both been financially supportive of the VCB.

Paid for by Ken Moore for Mayor, Lisa Lu Smith treasurer.

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