Financial Roadmap Results-In my inaugural newsletter I described a series of financial benchmarks for the City. A roadmap to keep us within our means and at the same time realistically approach the many needed projects that need to be completed to keep Franklin viable and vibrant for many years to come. The recent economic downturn has created some unexpected opportunities in the form of lower interest rates on our bonds and also projects that are coming in well under budget. These factors have led the Board of Mayor and Alderman to forge ahead with some very significant projects for our future needs.
Recently we had a chance to review these benchmarks with our financial consultants and am proud to announce overall we are well within our parameters and at the same time we have continued to receive the highest rating from both Moody’s and Standard and Poor. We have taken on significant debt in our recent capital projects but they are still well within our funding capability.
Many of the financial decisions that have been made are already reflecting significant cost savings. For example, because of a favorable market for our bonds, we were able to secure rates lower than expected and realize nearly $3 million dollars in savings on interest charges on our two most recent bond issues. Another example would be savings of over $7 million dollars on capital projects which came in under budget.
Police Headquarters-In my last newsletter I mentioned that the new police station had come in over $1 million dollars under budget. The $35 million dollar price tag does include land and the facility.
Fuel Hedging Program-We currently have an intercity agreement with the City of Nashville for fuel purchasing where we agree to a predetermined fuel cost for gasoline and diesel fuel in an effort to project a correct dollar amount for our budget. This program over the past twelve months appears to have saved us over $43 thousand dollars.
City of Franklin Water Supply-Recently, the City and water department staff have been keeping a close eye on our drinking water supply. Several factors have caused this heightened review and include the hotter than usual weather and the expansion work being done on our raw water reservoir. The recent “don’t be a water hog campaign” has helped reduce our usage by about 10% compared to last year. A number of infrastructure upgrades have helped get more water from our other source, Harpeth Valley. The recommendation is that we be more judicious in our use of water from our personal use and our landscape irrigation. When the water reservoir project is complete, it will hold an estimated fifty day supply of raw water. Completion date is expected in the fall of 2010.
Sales Tax Report for May-Sales tax reports continue to be positive compared to one year ago. This is the fourth consecutive month of growth compared to 2009 numbers reflecting a 2.7% growth. The State as a whole collections were down 3.4%.
Blue Bag Curb Side Recycling-On July 12, this voluntary program was started to serve the 18,000 residential solid waste customers. The program is provided at no additional cost. The only articles not accepted are foam and glass. Blue bags are available at most local stores. Early indicators indicate a good initial response.
Road Project Authorizations-Three significant projects were approved on the June 12 BOMA meeting and all will have different sources of funding. Nichol Mill Lane Improvements from Mallory Lane is a project that will change the alignment of this road and also allow for signalization. This is an important project to allow increased access for BioMemetics and the Life Sciences Center while provide additional connectivity and safety. It will be funded from savings from projects that came in under budget and thus freed up more capacity. The second project is signalization at General George Patton Drive which will be funded from small project funding capacity for 2010. Last was a resolution to authorize and construct a roadway project to access the Eastern Flank Battlefield. The City will contribute up to $369 thousand dollars from Hotel/Motel taxes and will consider a design build option. These are three important smaller projects that have been long awaited and will contribute positively to our community.
Streetscape Update (Franklin Corridor and Connector Streets Economic Development Projects)-At the July 8, 2010 CIC meeting, the status of five of these projects were discussed since their design phase is almost complete. These include Columbia Avenue, Phase II, Hillsboro Road, Franklin Road, 3rd Ave North and 4th Avenue North and South, and Bridge St and 1st Avenue North. It appears that the design phase will be completed to a point at which legal descriptions and exhibits for right of way and easement acquisition can be accomplished for all of the projects. Work will continue on the Columbia Avenue Phase I and Hillsboro Road. On the other projects, this is a good stopping point according to City Engineer, David Parker, until funding is available.
Money Magazine-Franklin received another national recognition this month when Money magazine recognized our community as the #66 best places to live in America. Factors such as the music industry, Civil War History, and the business community help influence the ranking in addition to quality of life indicators.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-A resolution to establish a sustainable building policy for the City of Franklin municipal buildings is being considered. The private sector has found that LEED certified buildings promote healthier more productive employees, more building value, and use less energy than non-LEED buildings. The new police station is currently undergoing the certification process and is expected to attain Silver level. If the resolution goes forward, future municipal buildings over 5000 square feet will need to be LEED certified if they pass a cost benefit analysis. Many communities have already taken this step to varying degrees and ours would be a small step forward to test the water and make sure it has financial merit. Cities across the country that are recognized for their sustainability initiatives generally use a similar policy. This would tie into Franklin becoming a “top twenty-five green city.”