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Franklin group gets $50,000 boost from city

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Franklin is giving another $50,000 to a taxpayer-funded organization tasked with spurring economic development in the downtown to allow the group to continue to operate.

The city council approved the money for the Franklin Development Corp., which requested the funds to help pay for ongoing costs such as legal fees, advertising and possibly a consultant.

The organization was created in 2008 and funded with more than $5 million in city tax dollars. The city overhauled the organization and all but one of the former board members were replaced this summer.

The organization asked for the additional operating funds, because it only has $13,000 left of the $600,000 in operating money the city allocated when the group was founded. The group expects to spend about $48,000 to operate this year.

City council members were hesitant to give the organization the full $50,000 because up to $20,000 of that could go to hiring a consultant. That money will be used to complete a needs assessment, which will help the new board determine whether current programs run by the organization are effective and if new programs should be started, board president John Ditmars said.

“I don’t want to see a consultant blow into town, say ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s great.’ and then take the money and leave,” city council member Rob Henderson said.

Council members ultimately decided to fund the request since the organization has several projects in progress that will need to be monitored. Other members including Joe Abban and Ken Austin said the new board should be able to continue and develop new projects, and not just manage current projects.

The council voted 5-1 to approve the $50,000. Council member Richard Wertz voted no and said he was concerned he hasn’t heard any information about what amount of tax funds the Franklin Development Corp. would be requesting from the city to fund future projects. Joe Ault was absent from the meeting.

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