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News Town appoints new alderman

Since Alderman Jerry Evans passed away in February, his seat on Franklin’s Town Board has remained vacant. At the board’s continuation meeting on Monday, the seat was finally filled.

The Board voted unanimously to approve Farrell Jamison as the new alderman to assume the remainder of Evans’ term, which ends in November. At that point, a partial two-year term will be up for election, along with three other seats, to finish out Evans’ four-year term, starting in December. The other positions will be four-year terms.

Jamison, who has worked for Franklin Fire and Rescue for 34 years, now works part-time as a fire and rescue training coordinator for Southwestern Community College, along with serving as the county fire investigator.

“We’ve been searching for a replacement for the seat vacated by the death of Jerry Evans. Our search turned up a candidate that we feel will bring a lot of expertise and help to our existing town board,” said Vice Mayor Verlin Curtis.

Town to approve of Angel-Mission merger

A bill has been introduced by N.C. Senator Jim Davis (R-Macon County) that could stifle a planned merger of Angel Medical Center in Franklin and Mission Memorial Hospital in Asheville.

Vice Mayor Verlin Curtis reported that after meeting with Tim Hubbs, president of Angel Medical, Hubbs was pleased that the Town of Franklin was supportive of the merger.

“I like our community hospital here, but it won’t grow much unless it gets some help. Somebody bigger,” said Curtis, remarking that the merger would promote competition between area hospitals.

“We’ve got to believe that the management of Angel has made a considerate decision that’s in the best interests of the hospital that they want to continue to pursue the merger with Memorial Mission,” said Mayor Joe Collins.

“They need help. I think a lot of things have changed since Mission showed up around here, for the better of our hospital,” said Alderman Joyce Handley.

The Town had no resolution drawn up, so instead unanimously voted to have one drafted in support of the merger.

New budget proposes no tax increase

Town Manager Sam Greenwood presented a proposed flat budget for the fiscal year 2011-12, which does not include an increase in the current 25 cent per $100 valuation tax rate.

According to Greenwood, the proposed budget “recognizes a complex state of affairs balancing intergovernmental relations,” he said, referring to the unpredictable state of affairs on the state and federal level.

“Local government in North Carolina is moving deeper into interesting times,” he said. “Perhaps we should reflect accordingly on the old Irish Curse ‘may you live in interesting times.’”

Greenwood reported there has been a slowed recovery of revenue for Franklin. His proposed budget allows for some increase in base salary and the operation of capital equipment, but most other expenditures are proposed to remain as they were last year. Reserved funds for both General and Capital Outlay budgets should be increased, he recommended, by 3 to 5 percent. The current rate for the General budget a reserved fund of 30 percent.

A four percent cost of living increase is also proposed in the budget for base pay of town employees, as well as an additional one percent, one time increase in December if possible.

The budget also suggests that the town increase the water rate fees by $1 per thousand and ten cents per hundred gallons to residents residing outside city limits that are using city services. The increase, Greenwood noted, is being recommended because of the effects of state changes to annexation law and debt service increases.

The total proposed budget of $8,317,500 for 2012, includes more than $1 million in revenue appropriated from the Town’s fund balance.

There was no discussion of the proposed budget at the meeting but the board will hold a workshop at Town Hall on the matter on May 23 at 5:30.

Cell tower advisors appointed

Aldermen voted unanimously to appoint agents from the Center for Municipal Solutions to serve as advisors for a proposed cell phone tower to be constructed on Gaston Street.

Town Planner Michael Grubermann, who requested the appointment, said that the Center for Municipal Solutions has been established as an advisor to the town by the Wireless Telecommunications Ordinance, adopted in 2002. “That’s basically their function in life is to operate with municipalities, and quite a few in North Carolina, to guide the town through this process,” he said.

According to Grubermann, Verizon has paid the initial $8,500 project fee. The CMS agents appointed to the town are Lawrence “Rusty” Monroe and Jackie Hicks. Their appointment is cost-free to the town.

Tartan Museum receives relief funds

At Monday’s meeting, Janet Greene, Chairman of the Scottish Tartans Museum Board of Trustees, asked the board for funds to help pay off their expenses in an otherwise dismal economic climate.

The museum’s total expenses are approximately $314,000 a year. Greene said that those expenses are generally met through gift shop sales. “However, in this economy and the downturn, with the fewer folks walking in on the street and fewer website fares … They have not been able to meet their budget,” she said.

In order to lower expenses, the museum’s Board of Trustees has decided to pay off the museum’s T-shirt printing machine, which produces shirts for sale at the museum and Scottish clan societies. “They make a good source of income for the museum,” said Greene, reporting that the museum owes $14,502 on the machine.

Greene requested that the board grant $4,680 —roughly one third of the amount owed on the Tshirt machine — for this budget year. She explained that the museum would pay another third of the amount, and then the museum would return for the next budget year and request another grant of the same amount.

Among other budget items, Greene said that of the museum’s yearly expenses $51,000 is used to pay the salary of three individuals.

Alderman Bob Scott said that he would be in favor of adopting a policy that would allot all local museums with the same amount of funds for the next year.

The board unanimously approved the grant request.

The Scottish Tartans Museum will be holding a reception on June 19 from 3 to 5. Greene invited town officials to attend. The guest host will be Darren Burgess, Second Secretary for Scottish Affairs with the British Embassy in Washington. “It would be a great opportunity to meet this man who has a great deal of influence with the government in Scotland,” said Burgess.

Also at Monday’s meeting, aldermen unanimously voted to appoint Ellen Jenkins, owner of Primrose Lane on Main Street, to complete Kevin Bell’s term on the TDA.

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