Franklin board responds to growing needs; adds more employees, 3 percent pay hike

With the investment in rebuilding city streets and developing a new gateway into the city comes more roads to maintain and buildings to inspect.

Franklin city officials are responding by adding a handful of new employees in 2018 who will make street repairs and coordinate the roadwork projects, inspect buildings under construction and enforce the rules regarding the appearances of properties and answer emergency calls.

The additional employees, plus a 3 percent pay hike for most employees and the rising cost of health insurance benefits and utilities, will grow the city’s budget by just more than 3 percent next year to $22.9 million.

Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett has proposed the 2018 spending plan to the city council, which will vote on the budget in October.

In total, more than one-third of city spending is spent on public safety: training, equipping and paying police officers and firefighters.

The city’s budget is funded primarily with property tax dollars and with tax dollars collected by the state, such as the gas tax, then funneled back to communities. The city’s budget also covers the salaries, operating and equipment costs for the parks, the planning department, street projects, city court and Greenlawn Cemetery.

With the investment taxpayers have made in improving Franklin streets in recent years, another street laborer is needed to complete maintenance and repair projects, Barnett said. The city is also adding a street department supervisor who will serve as a director of operations to plan the street projects, Barnett said. In total, the team of workers who repair streets is growing to 18, which includes crew leaders, a technician to maintain and repair city vehicles and the street commissioner.

An additional code enforcement officer will work through the planning department to inspect construction projects, such as the new hotel and expected retail at the Interstate 65 exit. The new employee also could enforce other city rules, such as downtown parking rules or the semi-truck ban through downtown, although how that would work still needs to be discussed, the mayor said.

Barnett is also in favor of adding one police officer, growing the force to 50 once the officer is hired and trained. The fire department is not adding any firefighters in 2018, but did purchase a new firetruck this year.

After the city council approves the budget, state officials will review the spending plan and estimated tax revenue for the year.

Author photo
Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mholtkamp@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2774.