On Monday night the Franklin Board of Aldermen held its first meeting of the new year. On the agenda was a variety of issues to be discussed, but the extremely low temperatures kept two presenters – representatives of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Venture Local – from attending the meeting. As a result of the reduced agenda items, the meeting was shortened significantly, but produced some significant highlights before adjourning for the evening.
Joe Collins presented with Order of the Long Leaf Pine
Former mayor Joe Collins was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Collins announced last May that he would not be running for reelection to the mayor's office, a seat that he has held since 2003. Before becoming mayor, he served as a town aldermen.
“On behalf of the whole board, thank you,” said Mayor Bob Scott.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina. The honor is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers, and many years of service to their organizations are some of the guidelines by which recipients are selected for this award.
Along with the award, Scott also presented Collins a letter from Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) that thanked him for his 16 years of service.
“I wouldn't have dreamed of something like this. When you've been around for a while, you see people get it [the award] and you just always wonder if sometime you may be able to match up and I'm not sure I did, but I'm not going to give it back either,” said Collins. “It absolutely is one of the proudest moments that I've had.”
Collins now enjoys an honor that is shared with such notables as Maya Angelou, Billy Graham, Andy Griffith, Michael Jordan and many others.
Fiscal Year 2012-2013 audit presentation
A representative from Martin Starnes and Associates, the firm who handles the town's audit, gave a few brief highlights concerning the town's financial state.
“Comparing 2013 to 2012 for the General Fund, your revenues for 2013 were close to $3.7 million while your expenditures were around $3.6 million," said Matt Braswell. "Your revenues increased by about $30,000 or about one percent from the previous year while your expenditures increased over $400,000 from the prior year due to decreased spending in all of the functions of your government.”
The Fund Balance as presented by Braswell has increased to more than $2 million in 2013. In order to be in compliance with state statute, the accounts receivable may not be put towards that useable balance leaving the balance at $1.9 million an increase from $1.8 in 2012. He also said that the town has about six and a half months worth of operating funds if no revenues were being collected.
The three sources of revenue as detailed by Smith were ad valorem tax at 47 percent, other taxes and licenses at 15 percent, and unrestricted intergovernmental tax (local sales tax, telecommunications tax) at 31 percent. Other revenues counted for roughly seven percent.
“For the 2013 year, I think the Town of Franklin was able to do a lot of good things. You increased your fund balance by about $80,000 to get that available fund balance up into the 50 percent range. You refunded some debt as well to reduce your debt service cost over the years by about $120,000. The water and sewer fund is looking really good. It's getting there, to where it will be self sustaining. The operating revenues are up while the operating expenses are down. All in all, I think 2013 was a very good year,” said Braswell.
The board voted unanimously to accept the audit.