A city organization that has used tax dollars to pay for new storefronts on downtown buildings, help business owners renovate shops and residents fix up their homes wants feedback on whether to continue those programs or start new ones.
The Franklin Development Corp. will host two public forums to discuss whether current programs, including facade grants and residential and commercial loans, should be continued and to seek new ideas.
The meetings will be at the Franklin College arts cafe, 66 S. Water St., at 3 p.m. Wednesday and at 6 p.m. April 10.
The organization was created in 2008 by the city and funded with $5 million from the city’s tax-increment financing districts, and about $200,000 of that money remains. The development corporation has helped fund projects including facade improvements at multiple downtown businesses, helping Ivy Tech Community College buy land for a future expansion and opening the Franklin College arts cafe attached to city hall.
Mostly new members were named to the organization’s board last year, and they want to develop a list of programs before asking the city to provide more tax funds for future projects.
The development agency has had a major impact in Franklin, particularly the vital downtown area. But one of the criticisms was that it was not accountable to the public. This critique led in part to the agency’s reorganization.
Next week’s public meetings are another step in making the organization more responsive to public desires. But in order to be effective, members of the public need to speak up.
Do you like the facade projects going on in the downtown and want them to continue, then say so. Think they’re a waste of taxpayer dollars, then tell the agency that.
Do you have ideas that group leaders should consider? Then let them know.
Community development projects ultimately affect all Franklin residents because the money paying for them is taxpayer funds, your money.
And now you have a chance to make your voice heard in how your dollars are spent.