Moore About Franklin, June 2010

June 27th, 2010

Posted by kenmoore in News on June 27th, 2010

Blue Bag Curbside Recycling Program-The voluntary recycling program will begin on July 12 on your regular solid waste pickup date. Everything but foam and glass may be placed in a blue bag curbside. This includes all plastics 1-7 and includes plastic bags. The object of the program is to reduce the amount of material going to the landfill and create savings thru reduced tipping fees and transportation costs. Glass may be dropped at any county recycling facility. Items for recycling should be rinsed and cardboard boxes will need to be broken down and placed beneath the blue bag. Blue bags may be purchased at most local grocery store and building supply stores. This program is another effort to make Franklin a sustainable city and demonstrates our leadership in this area. There is no additional fee for this service and is paid thru the savings generated from less material to the landfill and less transportation charges to the landfill which is in Murfreesboro. The recent increase in solid waste fees is not related to this program and is instead an effort to match the costs of providing the service to the eighteen thousand customers served by the City. The other important point to know is that this voluntary program is also a pilot program that will be regularly evaluated to monitor its costs and savings.

City Takes More Honors-The City received two awards at the recent Tennessee Municipal League conference.   The first award was for excellence in Green Leadership and the second was for excellence in Municipal Government for our Sustainable Community Action Plan and the Live Green Business Partnership.  TML officials said, “The city’s devotion to sustainable practices, not only in municipal departments but throughout the entire community, is commendable.”

Flood Update-The cost and damage related to the flood of 2010 seems to be leveling out. The City suffered about $800 thousand dollars worth of damage, most occurring to the Parks. The City over the coming months will be submitting project worksheets to obtain reimbursement for our costs. 

A total of 449 private structures were damaged with 85% of these being residential. Of this number, 393 were in the 100 year flood plain. Inventories show that there are 929 buildings located in the flood plain and 49% had damage. Of the 34 significantly damaged homes, 26 have been assessed and nine of these will require rebuilding. FEMA has declared an important deadline of Tuesday, July 6, 2010 as the last date that you can declare flood related damage. If there is any question in your mind, go ahead and file because after the above date, you will no longer be eligible. We are awaiting confirmation but the flood of 2010 may be the worse non-hurricane related flooding in United States history.

Jackson National Life Insurance Company-Over 750 new jobs will be coming to Williamson County as Jackson National Life Insurance Company establishes a regional center for its insurance operations. The company is named after Andrew Jackson and is an AA rated insurer and has over $87 billion dollars in assets.

Police Station-The opening of the new police facility on Columbia Avenue has been overshadowed by the flood. The facility appears that it will be under budget by over $1 million dollars.

Small Capitalization Projects-The top three ranked projects were approved to be moved forward and included in the funding model. The three projects in order of ranking are Eastern Flank Battlefield Road, Signalization at General George Patton Drive, and Nichol Mill Road in Cool Springs off Mallory Lane. The funding will be studied and voted at future BOMA meetings. The Battlefield Road may be a combination of private funding and capacity from the Hotel/Motel tax. The latest proposal is a loop road without curb and gutter which lowers the cost. The portion that would remain open would be a form of asphalt and the other less frequently used limb would be gravel.

Septic Tank Certification-In recent BOMA work sessions, a manual for the Septic Certification Inspection Program has been proposed and studied. Anyone with a functioning septic tank system and their property is within 200 feet of an existing City sewer line would be required tohave an inspection on a regular basis. The manual would determine the frequency and the procedure. At present the proposal has been a visual ground inspection and pumping of the tank with interior inspection every three years. The estimated costs would be $300 for the pumping of the tank and a $75 City inspection fee. The frequency and the costs are an ongoing issue that is being discussed and will return to the work session again. The major concern is trying to keep the cost low and consider making the frequency of pumping at the outer range of State recommended guidelines.

Integrated Water Resource Plan- A public meeting will be held at City Hall on July 12, 2010 at 6:30 PM for comment on the plan for our water resources for the next thirty plus years. This program will look at our long range water requirements, storm water, and wastewater and the effect on the watershed. This is an important meeting to voice your opinion and learn what the stakeholders are proposing. Prior to this meeting, there will be a special board workshop to study the computer modeling and the alternatives that are being considered.

Establishing a Sustainable Building Policy for City of Franklin Municipal Buildings-The Sustainability Commission will be bringing to an upcoming work session a proposal for LEED certification of City buildings over five thousand square feet. The resolution would require that all City buildings in the future meet LEED standards unless it is not economically feasible or not reasonable. This potential ordinance does not apply to privately owned buildings but many landlords are finding that certification improves value and marketability and happier employees. Studies confirm that these energy efficient buildings have healthier, happier, and more productive workers not to mention increased value. More recent evidence also indicates for commercial buildings, the cost is almost negligible given the payback. Certification is important in my opinion for these reasons and also it is the current gold standard for buildings. I compare it to your physician: is he board eligible or is he board certified. You know what you are getting if you go with certified.

Sales Tax Report-The May report, which reflects April sales, was a 9.3% increase from last year while the State reported an increase of 3.7%. This is the third month in a row that we have seen an increase compared to last year.

Super Build America Bonds Sold-Franklin continues to hold a strong financial status as evidenced by the recent sale of Super Build America Bonds in the amount of $15.7 million dollars to finance the Hillsboro Road, Columbia Avenue, and Third Avenue North extension projects. A total of six firms bid on the bonds. An interest rate of 5.16% on face value will equate to 2.93% after the forty-five percent interest refund. For comparison, the yields on the December bond issue were at 3.17% which is also a very attractive rate. Estimates are that near $2 million dollars of interest savings will be produced over the life of the bonds when compared to a similarly structured tax-exempt issue.

 

Upcoming Events

  • St. Paul’s annual BBQ-July 24
  • 2010 Franklin Classic, September 6, 2010. Franklin Square www.franklinclassic.org
  • Jingle Bell Run-December 4

Green minds laud Franklin’s effort

June 13th, 2010

Posted by marykate in News,Photos,Press on June 13th, 2010

City earns high praise for eco-friendly initiatives at environmental conference at The Factory

By Kevin Walters • THE TENNESSEAN • June 10, 2010

nFRANKLIN — Franklin’s recent strides to become more eco-friendly have helped put it among leading Tennessee cities for sustainability initiatives, despite challenges still ahead.

At an environmental leadership conference in Franklin earlier this week, the city drew praise from state environmental leaders about recent plans here, including launching a citywide sustainability plan and curbside recycling.

“In Middle Tennessee, Franklin is the leader in sustainability,” said Warren Nevad, executive director of the Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council.

More than 60 attendees spent Tuesday at The Factory at Franklin discussing environmental policies and practices.

While city officials say there are still many unknowns that will test whether their green plans can take root, they’re convinced Franklin can be among the most sustainability-minded cities in the nation one day.

“Two years ago, nobody cared what Franklin was doing,” said Alderman Ken Moore, who has helped spearhead local environmental programs. “Now people are asking: ‘What is Franklin doing?’ . . . I think they’re looking to see how we’re thinking and how we’re addressing being green, being sustainable.”

Their efforts have already garnered attention from statewide government groups.

Franklin will get two awards next week, during the 2010 Tennessee Municipal League conference in Gatlinburg. Franklin will get the TML’s 2010 Achievement Award for Excellence in Green Leadership because of “its devotion to sustainable practices, not only in municipal departments but throughout the entire community” according to a news release.

Separately, Franklin’s Live Green Business Partnership Program, which recognizes local businesses that adopt sustainable practices, will get the Tennessee City Management Association award for excellence in municipal government.

About 150 Franklin businesses are involved in the Live Green program.

City faces challenges

Franklin’s recent changes mean it’s finally joining the ranks of other Tennessee cities, such as Crossville, which have already started environmental programs.

In Crossville, officials have a biodiesel program where they collect vegetable oil from restaurants and convert it for use in city vehicles.

Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III said he believes cities must face the environmental and economic realities of the day.

“It is in cities where we must reduce energy consumption, save energy dollars and be less dependent on foreign oil,” Graham said. “We’ve had it pretty easy over the last 100 years with inexpensive energy costs and a forgiving environment.”

Yet despite the optimism, Franklin faces challenges to prove its changes are permanent.

Franklin’s curbside recycling program is untried and relies on homeowners to buy blue bags, fill them with recyclables and tote them to the curb. Franklin spent $240,000 this year to lease three “mini-packer” trucks to make weekly recycling pickups starting in July.

Based on early interest, Moore said he believes that residents will respond and use the curbside recycling program to help Franklin save money on garbage hauling fees and reduce the waste sent to the landfill.

The next step for Franklin will be approval of an ordinance that would require all government-owned buildings either be built or renovated to meet the “silver” level of environmental guidelines developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Aldermen are slated to have their first public discussion on the ordinance at their June 22.

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Jackson National Life Insurance Company Announces New Regional Headquarters in Franklin

June 13th, 2010

Posted by marykate in News,Photos on June 13th, 2010

Jackson National Life Insurance Company Announces New Regional Headquarters in Franklin

Facility Will Employ Up to 750, occupy 150,000-Square Feet

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Jackson National Life Insurance Company® (Jackson®), a Lansing, Michigan-based company providing variable, fixed and fixed index annuities and life insurance products through banks, independent financial advisers, regional broker/dealers, wirehouses and independent agents, will establish a regional headquarters in Williamson County, TN. The company will initially occupy temporary space at Nine Corporate Center in June and move into 90,000 square feet of space at One Greenway in January 2011. Jackson will take over an additional 30,000 square feet of space at One Greenway in January 2012 and another 30,000 square feet in mid-2013. The total amount of square footage in the lease will provide enough space to house up to 750 Jackson employees.

 ”Given Jackson’s rapid growth — which resulted in record sales and deposits of more than $15 billion last year — and our expectations for future growth opportunities, we must proactively expand our operational capacity, so we will be able to continue to deliver the award-winning service that advisers and their clients have come to expect from Jackson,” said Clark Manning, Jackson’s president and chief executive officer.

 

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Founded in 1961 and named after Andrew Jackson, Jackson National Life Insurance Company is a AA Standard & Poor´s rated company with nearly $88 billion in assets (IFRS). Currently, Jackson and its subsidiaries and affiliates employ nearly 3,700 people in 10 locations across the country.

 ”The Nashville area has a large and well-educated workforce and is home to many institutions of higher learning,” said Jackson Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Mike Wells. “With several insurance and financial services companies located in and around Nashville, we expect to be able to attract numerous experienced, qualified job candidates.”

 

Special Budget Edition and Flood Update

June 1st, 2010

Posted by marykate in Newsletter on June 1st, 2010

June 2010-Special Budget Edition and Flood Update

The Budget-After months of preparation by Department Heads and City Staff, we have a balanced budget that will go thru the necessary three readings and BOMA approval prior to it becoming official toward late June. The Budget and Finance Committee has spent numerous hours doing budget interviews and then more time reviewing the final budget document and passing it on to the full board.

There will be three separate ordinances that reflect this budget: (1) an ordinance reflecting the budget, (2) an ordinance establishing the property tax of 43.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. (This can be further broken down into its components such as 24.3 cents going to the general fund and 19.3 cents going to the debt service fund), and (3) an ordinance establishing the new solid waste fee($15).

Overall, it is a $50 million dollar general fund budget that is 6.9% less than last year and 15% less than two years ago. The good news is that there will be no service cuts and there will be no layoffs of City employees. There will be a 2% cost of living adjustment for City employees early next year. City employees will not have any change in their health insurance premiums or other benefits. Water is an enterprise fund and will be passed separately.

  • Revenue-45% of our revenue comes from sales tax receipts which compared to past years is lower. The remainder comes from property tax, state shared revenues, and other funds. The good news here is that we just saw two months of positive growth in sales tax revenue after 22 negative months. For the twenty-second year in a row, the property tax remains stable at 43.4 cents per $100 assessed value. Other streams of revenue include facility taxes, hotel/motel tax, and impact fees which complete the revenue sources for the City. Revenue projections are based on moderate growth on the sales tax side and the property tax side.
  • Expense side-Seventy-two percent of the general fund budget is personnel related. Another way to look at the personnel component is that 52% of the budget pays for the police and fire department. On a dollar per citizen perspective, our costs are similar to other communities across the State. Over one-half of the City vacancies are in the police department and will be filled after the economy improves. Overall there are 43 full time vacancies that are unfunded in this budget.
  • Debt Service-Debt service has increased this year because of the issue of the $40 million dollar bond issue to cover the police station project and other projects to which we have committed funds. Last year it was $3 million dollars and will rise to $5 million for this next budget year. This increase represents debt service on some very significant projects for Franklin that can be completed with lower interest loans and with significant cost savings compared to pre-recession prices. This results in significant savings.
  • The City has the highest financial credit rating available and the debt and reserve fund policies that are in place will guide the City so it can maintain its financial ratings and its leadership role. Our reserve fund represents 48% of the annual expenditures which is 15% higher than our policy of 33%.
  • Street resurfacing- One of our challenges is keeping up with our street paving cycle. We receive a portion of the gas tax from the State but this is not adequate to keep up with the paving needs because of rising costs and the fact that the gas tax is fixed and is not indexed to rising gas prices. In the past, we have supplemented this portion of expense by about a million dollars a year. To balance the budget, we will not do that this year. One highlight is a truck mounted infrared paving system that will be able to heat pavement in the repair process and save on asphalt and oil and do a better job at the same time. The $170 thousand dollar price tag will pay for itself in between one and two years.
  • Self insurance- we currently self insure our health plan but are now looking at moving toward self-insurance on our workers compensation coverage. This will produce a significant savings to the City without undue risks. The budget does not reflect this yet, but it will be explored and likely implemented going forward.
  • Non-profits-Annually, the City funds certain non-profits that have been traditionally supported by the City and who provide in many cases services that the City would have to pay for if these entities did not do their work. United Way has vetted these agencies again this year and determined their merits and made recommendations as to their funding which will require BOMA action. Budget and Finance reviewed the funding and voted to make it a 6% across the board cut rather than follow the recommendations of the panel.
  • Solid waste fee-this fee will be increased again this year by $3 dollars (from $12 to $15) in an effort to meet the cost which drains over a million plus from the revenue stream because we charge less than what it costs to deliver the service. The previous fee of $3 for a second can will be increased to $7.50. The start of the “blue bag” recycling program is not the reason for the increased fees and would have occurred even if the program was not approved. If recycling will be utilized by more of our residents, we hope to be able to come closer to breaking even on solid waste services. The blue bag program is a pilot program and will be monitored for its success. The goal should be to make the solid waste service more like an enterprise fund. Our costs for the service compared to other communities in our area and across the country reveal a lower cost. Many communities lack solid waste service and during the recent disaster and were delayed for over a week with clean up efforts versus Franklin which started immediately.
  • This is a bare bones budget with many needed items and capital equipment being pushed out to the future. Some equipment that is being acquired will be on a lease purchase basis such as new police vehicles. A sum of $669 thousand dollar will be used from the general fund to pay for some badly needed capital equipment that can wait no longer.
  • Congratulations to City staff that have worked so hard on this budget and daily make sacrifices for our community with their public service. In spite of the tough economic times and the budget cuts there will be no tax increases and the city will maintain well above what the rating agencies consider the right percentage for reserve balances. 

 

Flood Update-We have now moved to a different phase of the flood recovery. We have moved to a more individual or case by case issue where Citizens have unanswered questions, frustrations, and uncertainties brought on by either partial damage or complete loss of their home.

The City continues to work tirelessly to identify any and all programs that may be available to the victims of the flood. Information about the flood mitigation program is slowing getting here and may take longer to implement than our patience. The bottom line is that we are still bound by the State and Federal Guidelines for the disaster and this does little to solve individual frustrations of those affected.

The costs continue to rise but seem to be leveling out. Overtime costs to the City are now at $101,000 dollars, direct department costs at $63,000 dollars, and damage to City property has jumped to $880,000 dollars. Over 1140 tons of storm debris has been collected since May 3 to May26.

Over 441 structures have been damaged with a loss estimate of $16.5 million dollars and eighty-five percent of this is residential dwellings. At this stage, there may be at least twenty-five (25) homes with over 50% damage. Codes dictate that anything in the floodplain with over 50% damage is a complete loss and may not be rebuilt. There seems to be a lot of flexibility as to how this is determined.

We still have much to learn about the Flood Mitigation Program which could provide up to 75% reimbursement to a homeowner with an associated local match for the balance to buy homes in the floodplain that are a total loss. The State has announced they will cover one-half of the required match which is good news. Hopefully, further information about this program will be available within the week. It is not likely to be a quick fix or a fast track program. This is a voluntary program and not required by law. Nashville has been part of this program for some time which explains their ability to begin purchasing homes in the flood plain.

The City’s role will be to make sure of the safety of the structure, assist in guidance on repair and mitigation, act as a conduit for the programs available, storm water management, and pairing of resources. The City specifically will not act as an insurance company and must follow the State and Federal guidelines.

It is still important that homeowners register with FEMA.

1.      1-800-621-3362

2.      www.disasterassistance.gov

3.      M.fema.gov (e-mail)

4.      Disaster Recovery Center (at old Police Headquarters)

 The City can be reached to discuss individual specific questions by calling 794-7012. Building permits are still free for flood related damage. The City is actively reaching out to homeowners with fifty percent or greater damage and if you do not hear from them, call the number above.

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

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