Moore About Franklin – April 2012

April 30th, 2012

Posted by marykate in News on April 30th, 2012

State of the City Address

WORDS with Franklin Friends

April 25, 2012

Franklin is a town with a past. We are a historic city where certain events shaped our history. We are a city that respects that history and believes in preserving our heritage. At the same time we are a city that looks to be a modern community that balances preservation of our heritage with a thriving and growing community. Today, we are going to talk about shaping our future.

As a City, we are very active in “strategic planning process” based on community input and recognized needs. This input comes from public meetings, conversations, visioning sessions, community surveys, staff input, and Social Media.

Recently, I have been asking the question: “What do you want Franklin to be in twenty-five years?” I have received some interesting comments:

  • I don’t want Franklin to lose its charm.
  • I want Franklin to continue to be a premier location to live and work.
  • I want us to be where we are now in twenty-five years: a place where people want to live and work.
  • I want to be able to walk and bike and connect to more of Franklin without getting in my car.

Through careful planning, this past year has been a success year for Franklin. So, let’s play the game!!!!

I play the word “Done” for a double word.

Accomplishments-

  • Voluntary Curbside Recycling-In the second year of the program, we are consistently seeing participation rates in excess of 50% and are beating our diversion 15% of waste by weight being abled through recycling.
  • Solar Project-In a pubic private partnership, the City of Franklin will soon flip the switch on a solar array adjacent to our wastewater treatment plant.
  • Theater Marquee Lighting-Since we last met for the State of the City, the Franklin Theatre has returned to life, bringing great music, arts, entertainment and movie to our vibrant downtown.
  • Land Acquisition Announcement for CSCC, Williamson County-January 20, 2012-I have not been shy about advocating for a new campus. It has been a long process and thanks to Charles Sergeant, the land became a reality this year. Columbia State Community College is charting an exciting future purchasing property Franklin for their new Williamson County campus.  Amazing!!! I consider this to be one of the missing pieces that we are filling.
  • Employ longevity-The retirement of long time employee; Gary Luffman reminds us that the City is a great place to work.
  • City Elections for Mayor and Alderman-In October, the people of Franklin chose to return three at-large Aldermen, Alderman Barnhill, Bransford, and Petersen to their positions and added Brandy Blanton to our team. Personally, it is a truly humbling experience to be elected to serve this wonderful community as your mayor.
  • 84 Lumber Property purchase-The City acquired the former 84 Lumber site along Columbia Avenue to serve as our new consolidated Public Works facility. This will allow us to consolidate our streets, fleet maintenance and water maintenance operations into this one location that provide ample room for expansion to serve our growing community.
  • Low Head Dam-The low head dam project is moving forward to improve the Harpeth River as a natural resource for recreation, as a fish habitat and making it one of a few free-flowing rivers in the State of Tennessee.
  • Eastern Flank Battlefield Announcement-The City is receiving $500,000 from the State of Tennessee for the construction of the access road to the Eastern Flank Battlefield.
  • Mack Hatcher widening (Franklin Road to Murfreesboro Road)-Widening of the southeast section of Mack Hatcher is now underway and will bring added capacity to this important roadway.
  • Relocate America named Franklin one of the top 100 places to relocate and live.
  • It’s a Tie! Line Dance contest with Rogers Anderson!!

All of these accomplishments have come about because of strategic long range planning except the latter.

Let’s see: How about “Tech” that is a triple play word!

Technology-Franklin has a reputation for being on the cusp of technology. Currently, we are in the final phases of completing a fiber optic loop around Franklin that will serve several purposes.

  • First, it will expand our connections to our TOC (traffic operations center) so that traffic can be managed in an intelligent and efficient manner.
  • Second, it provides a Wi-Fi network for the City so all departments can communicate in real time and access information as if they were at their desk in City Hall.
  • Third, it ties us regionally to an 800 MHZ communications system that links us to others emergency operations in our region and also their fire, police and administration.
  • Most importantly, in the event of a disaster, we will be able to respond quickly and efficiently because of this strategic planning.
  • Not only are we high tech with our MIT department, but our communications division is one of the most proactive in the state in social media, we have close to 5,000 followers on Facebook, more than 13,600 video views on YouTube and close to 2,500 followers on twitter and we recently added Pinterest.  We use these tools for more than pushing out information to our citizens, we are harnessing social media to improve public engagement, solicit policy feedback, strengthen emergency response and establish greater transparency.
  • Last year we conducted a virtual town hall meeting on Facebook when we were experiencing water issues region wide. So FOLLOW US and be in the know and help us be better at what we do!
My next play is “Service”.
Business Friendly-Franklin continues to strive to be business friendly to our small businesses and large corporations.
What are we doing to improve that image?
  • Our greatest growth in jobs occurs in existing companies. Last year, over 2000 jobs were added. Since becoming Mayor, I have made it a priority to visit many Franklin businesses. We ask questions like: What are your needs? How can we communicate better? Already we are gaining information to assist in being more business friendly by creating new relationships. It has been inspirational to witness firsthand the ingenuity, innovation and drive of our local businesses. They love to call Franklin “home.”
  • A predictable turn around on plan review with fixed target dates for completion (we are beating those deadlines in most cases) along with the opportunity to submit and review plans electronically. This affects all of us. A recent example that will soon be obsolete is a friend who was adding to his garage and it required him to submit ten copies of his plans. With this new process, he gets a quick turn around and eliminates the paper.
  • Schedule inspections on an electronic basis.
  • Combining the concept plan and regulating plan into one process will save 60 days in the plan approval process.
  • External review of projects larger than 10K square feet will add an additional opportunity for business to control the time line for review of their approval.
  • Staff continues to work on other options to shorten the process
Our long-range success depends on this important strategic planning for being business friendly.
This is a tough one. How about “Connect”.
Transportation-Our streets are either funded locally or thru the state. The process by law must pass thru the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) who is tasked with looking ahead for the next 20+ years and developing strategic plans that include all regionally significant road, transit, walking, and biking trails, regardless of how they are funded.
We recently completed McEwen III and Nichol Mill. We have just approved funding for McEwen Extension, design of McEwen IV, and the intersection at Carlisle. South Carothers is under consideration for funding in the near future. Hillsboro Road, phase I will likely be bid by year-end.
I sit on the board of the MPO along with other mayors in the region. Michael Skipper is the executive director of this group and brings experience and expertise in guiding the organization. When I asked him about the future of transportation, he responded, “A modern, efficient transportation system …is critical for fostering economic expansion and competitiveness….”
There are three important words in Michael’s statement that strike a nerve with me. Economic expansion, modern system and competitiveness are those phrases.
How do we do this?
  • Public education-Transit Alliance and Citizens Transit Leadership Academy
    • Increase the available options-van pools, dedicated lanes on the interstate, regional buses which have shown double digit increases in ridership.
    • Create a vision of what is possible just as other communities have done-our competitors such as Charlotte, Austin, and Denver have done this
    • Develop a funding plan that addresses this important issue
    • I am going to play “Safe”-it should fit nicely right here!
    • Safety-We live in one of the safest communities in Tennessee. It is safe for many reasons: Our firemen and policemen are professionals that train regularly to be prepared in case of emergencies.
    • Examples of activities of the police department are:
      • Training exercise such as the “incident command perspective” that is held at every large festival.
      • A few of the Franklin Police Department’s crime prevention outreach initiatives include citizen engagement through Twitter, and our smartphone app, heavy community program involvement, our anonymous text tip program, and highly visible non-traditional patrols using things like horses, motorcycles, unmarked cars, Segways, and bicycles.
      • Coffee with the clergy-A program was begun last year with an outreach to the clergy of our community. Over thirty-five ministers have been represented and have been able to hear the programs of the police department and develop ideas for programs to encourage a safe community and to build partnerships.
      • Franklin continues to be one of the safest places to live in Tennessee and in America. Our crimes rates continue to diminish thru the efforts of our Police Department and under the leadership of Chief Rahinski. The City experienced a 7% decrease in total offenses compared to 2011 and an overall crime rate that is 56% below the State average.
Our Fire Department under the leadership of Chief Garzrek has achieved a fire ISO rating of 2. This is the best in the state. They now offer an Advance medical responsive status with over thirty-two paramedics providing advanced life support to our citizens.
I think you will agree that Strategic planning works! You learned of the heroism of our firemen this morning. Through their efforts, over five lives were saved last year. It starts with training and includes strategic planning.
Tennessee City Management Association awarded jointly the excellence in municipal governance award for automatic aid system for fire response to Franklin and Brentwood.
What is a five-letter word that begins with M? “Money”.
Finances-There is continued improvement in our finances. We have weathered the economic storm of the past three years. We have reduced our budget by $7 million dollars since 2008 without impacting services to the community. In fact in many areas we have enhanced services.
  • We are working smarter and more efficiently than ever before.
  • We continue to be a AAA rated credit by two rating agencies.
  • Sales tax revenues continue to grow and are near pre-recession numbers.
  • Refunding of $19.2 million dollars of water and sewer bonds saved the city over $3 million dollars over term of the note.
The Government Finance Officer’s Association recognized Franklin for the 20th consecutive year for their accounting excellence. The employees pension plan was revised to reflect a more sustainable plan while still being competitive with other employers.
Daily we are working on ways to save money. A couple of examples are:
  • Infrared paving repair-you may have seen a peculiar truck around town with what looks like a tanning bed on a boom. This is a unique new way to fix our streets without digging them up and it promises to quickly pay for itself. The first month of use showed a $9000 savings over conventional repair methods.
  • The potential for public/private joint ventures-such as solar fields
This is an easy one: “Plan”.
Water-Integrated Water Resource Plan-(IWRP)-Two years ago the City embarked on a two year plan to study to develop a plan for water, wastewater, and storm water for the next twenty-five years.
Let’s take a look at acommodity that is critical to our survival but at the same time we take for granted. (VIDEO)
But, here is the bottom line. There will be a need for a substantial investment in these projects over the next 30 years that will be in the range of $200 million dollars. The ultimate impact of this will be born by both developers and ratepayers with bills rising over this time period.
This problem is not unique to Franklin but is one that is occurring all across America with aging infrastructure. The decisions to be made are not options but necessities to avoid mandated renovations and penalties if we do not act proactively.
Solid Waste-Another area we have taken for granted is our trash. Five years ago we were contributing $5 million dollars a year to support the solid waste division. I am glad to report that we are now projecting this amount to be well under $1 million dollars per year.
We now have an opportunity to narrow and possibly erase this contribution thru new long-term relationships that will create predictable pricing for both hauling and disposal for up to 14 years.
The other area we have studied is a regional approach to solid waste. Under the initial leadership of the city, discussions with multiple counties and TDEC have been occurring for about one year to develop options for years to come.
There are no results as to date but the subject is being studied and we have the attention of the regulatory agencies on what our challenges are for now and for the future.
Again, strategic planning is the key.
“Destination”
Tourism-Tourism has grown significantly over the past few years and we are one of the top tourist destinations in Tennessee. Also, Franklin has become a top destination for athletic contests at our ball fields, parks and private facilities.
  • Twenty-five percent of our hotel/motel tax goes to fund the WCVCB.
  • We are finding that this investment is giving us a six-fold return.
  • We will be hosting the NCAA ladies golf championship later this year.
  • In just two years, the sesquicentennial of the civil war will occur on the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin and it promises to be a premier event.
Our visitors are kind to us. We give them memories and a good time and they leave their money behind.
I have three letters left. I think that this is a word “aha”.
Personal Moments-If I can take a few moments now to speak to some of the personal moments as your mayor and some of the hidden challenges of the job that are separate from the topics that I have already mentioned.
I regularly get to talk to a lot of young people. One such occasion was a summer mentoring program when I discussed my career path from medicine to politics. I had a lot of good questions from the group, but one stands out from:
  • The ten-year-old boy who asked me: “What do you do when your father has been in jail and paid his time but can’t find a job?” I don’t remember the answer I gave but I will never forget the question.
  • Or the 4th grader from Poplar Grove that asked me if the mayor has a jet plane.
  • Or the letter from Lisa, a 2nd grader at Walnut Grove who wrote: “You are the best Mayor I have ever met. Do you make up the laws (like going to school)? When I grow up, I want to be the mayor….of another city.”
Several years ago, we adopted Delta Company from Ft. Campbell. We have supported them and encouraged them and their families during their deployment. Upon their return from deployment, we celebrated with them but reading the names of fallen soldiers from Delta Company was a challenge that was difficult to do.
Yes, these are moments that are challenging but these are the moments that make the job so important and the moments that make it important to serve.
And now, Franklin! It’s your move!
http://prezi.com/etqjwsldpfak/state-of-the-city/?auth_key=dc957aff5603579d391022febfc432377f6be5f8

 

 

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

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