Name: Bob Heuchan
Family: Wife, Paula; four children; six grandchildren
Occupation: Mutual Savings Bank president
Education: Graduated Franklin Community High School; bachelor’s degree from Franklin College; master’s degree from University of Indianapolis
Memberships: Franklin College Alumni Council, Franklin Redevelopment Commission, Franklin Rotary Club, Franklin Lodge No. 107, Indiana Masonic Home Foundation
What are the top issues facing the city of Franklin? How would you address them?
Completing the Jefferson Street/King Street project. East side development over the coming months will be impactful in the long run. Will encourage openness and give the public opportunities to express their views, concerns and questions. Traffic situation on U.S. 31 continues to be a concern, both pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Need to have an open dialogue with INDOT, making them aware of our concerns. The city’s newest TIF district is part of that discussion, such as what will be available in revenues, especially for pedestrian projects.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for city council?
Grew up in Franklin, lived here his whole life, worked downtown 41 years. Has a good record of service in community as professional. Served on economic development commission, redevelopment commission. Has been president of redevelopment commission for five years, and been part of significant enhancements to city. Good history of working with organizations and people in accomplishing good things. Has a good idea of issues city faces in areas of homelessness, hunger and other needs.
The city currently is planning or working on millions of dollars of infrastructure projects. How informed are you of the details of those projects? How will you as a council member manage them?
Very informed as redevelopment commission member. Been part of early discussions about city obtaining roads from INDOT. Sat in on nearly every presentation and planning meeting. As council member, it is the expectation to have connection with public, communicate what’s going on, listen to them about their concerns, such as from downtown business owners about how they will be affected by construction. Need to keep open communication. Is important when there are concerns, to make them known.
How should the city continue attracting new businesses? What tools would you use to bring new jobs to Franklin?
Best way to attract new business is to take care of community we have. When companies come to Franklin, they don’t just look at sites, they look at schools, appearance of city, do people like living here, how is housing. These questions are critical, can’t ignore. “If they don’t take care of their own community, how are they going to take care of us?” Redevelopment commission working on second shell building, for example. Attempting to leverage TIF resources to stay in front of competition. First shell building brought companies to Franklin in addition to Hetsco, that made significant improvements and leased space that had been empty. Need to maintain relationship with Johnson County Development Corp. and communicate with leaders.
How can the city be sure to attract quality, high-paying jobs? What is a quality job? What new developments should receive a tax abatement, and which, if any, shouldn’t? What metrics would you use to make the decision?
Should be guidelines of what we are suited for. Franklin is a leader in state for Japanese companies that have jobs with high levels of training, high skills. Good, quality jobs; not minimum wage. Can build off base to attract those. Have a lot of room left for manufacturing, with proximity to interstate, rail. Pretty diverse in our area, not a lot would want to exclude. But are areas of county, might be best served with lower paying manufacturing. Franklin is a step above it. Those types of jobs are what schools are geared toward, including Ivy Tech, Central Nine.
What are the city’s greatest challenges?
Short run, impact on residents and businesses of road upgrades. Have excellent law enforcement and maintaining safe neighborhoods is key. Maintaining all neighborhoods’ infrastructure, not just new development. Need to maintain and improve what we have in the north and south ends of Franklin, old core downtown in sidewalks and roads. Are we doing what we can do to help support these neighborhoods? Challenge is to find funding. Recognizing Franklin, as well as a lot of communities, has a homeless issue. Need to help support organizations and agencies that are addressing it.
What programs, projects and departments need more money? What needs less?
Each has own opportunities and challenges. Parks department has taken on more work, as we add roads and landscaping. As demographics change, societal issues change. Issues like drugs are challenges for the police department. Fire department has equipment to maintain. Planning and engineering has lot to do to with all the development going on, and so does street department. All could justify additional funding. It is the challenge of being on city council — make tough calls and answer questions about why. Learned from managing bank, if you focus on one area, it impacts other areas. Any kind of budgeting you do, has impact on departments and constituents.
How will you determine the best appointments to boards, such as the redevelopment commission, the Franklin Development Corp. and the police merit board?
Will be a steep learning curve when comes to police merit board. In general, one of the reasons Franklin is enjoying success today has been due to appointments of quality individuals on various boards. Board members should be knowledgeable in fields, ethical, successful in occupation, and all care about town they live in.
The appointed redevelopment commission spends millions of dollars each year on business incentives and special projects. Should any TIF districts be ended? Should any property tax money be returned to the schools or libraries for those boards to determine how to spend the money?
TIF districts need to come to an end as prescribed by law. City did extend the TIF districts with a bond. Did it openly, and the school district was a part of that discussion. TIFs are not created to go into perpetuity, should end, should be purpose for them. Money should not be returned now because there is still a lot of need and projects are in the works. City has returned money in certain cases, such as with Chromebooks for Franklin schools. If there is an excess or abundance, could consider giving money back. Right now, enough projects to use that money. For example, city will need to look at impact of truck routes on Eastview Drive and, U.S. 31. Evaluate each project as it comes up.