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As this is being written, 31 Macon County teachers have their jobs on the virtual chopping block. They are awaiting word on whether their words will continue to be heard by their students. Budgetary downsizing is prompting the evaluation and possible elimination of these nontenured positions. While the present educational fiscal crunch is relatively new, the events leading up to it are not. Too much emphasis has been placed on “school” as a physical building at the expense of actual schooling.

Education, especially public/government education is consistently behind the curve in innovation which is an ironic position to say the least. Businesses are discovering that the big box, brick and mortar approach to retail may be going the way of the parachute pants. Our educational system has not received the memo that high overhead with bloated administrative and operational costs isn't the best way to run things, especially in a cash-strapped environment.


On Tuesday, the public had its chance to voice any opposition they had towards Duke Energy and their proposed rate hikes. Duke Energy has proposed a 9.7 percent increase in its electric rates. The North Carolina Utilities Commission is holding hearings across the state to allow the public to have their say. Franklin was the site of one of these hearings — the only one west of Asheville — and people filled the courtroom designated for the hearing at the Macon County Court House Tuesday night.


Macon County commissioners got their first glimpse at the 2013-14 proposed budget on Monday night during the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the board of commissioners.

“Macon County continues to maintain a solid financial position compared with many counties in North Carolina,” said County Manager Jack Horton. “The county currently has the lowest ad valorem property rate among all 100 counties in North Carolina at 27.9 cents per $100, and our fund balance remains healthy. This continues to provide a high degree of financial security in terms of being prepared for unexpected emergencies and shortfalls in revenue.


Grand Jury hands down 56 True Bills of Indictment

Fifty-six True Bills of Indictments were handed down against Christopher Burk of Franklin on Monday after a special called session of the Macon County Grand Jury was conducted.

According to Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland, investigators with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office and State Bureau of Investigation provided testimony against defendant Burk during the session that resulted in 56 of 56 True Bills of Indictment being handed down by the Grand Jury.


League of Women Voters hosts nostalgic forum.

The League of Women Voters hosted its monthly meeting at the Tartan Hall of the First Presbyterian Church last Thursday. The public was invited to the forum that saw a variety of past Macon County Commissioners from the 1970s to the early 1990s offer up stories, advice, and overall views of the current political climate in Macon County.

The meeting was well attended by members of the community who hoped to hear from the former officials, many of whom even worked with them in one form or fashion. In a role that mirrored his first job as county manager, Ron Winecoff started the event off providing a structure that would be followed by the five commissioners in attendance.


Citing unavoidable state revenue losses, legislative actions, rising costs, and a 19.5 percent increase in the deductible on health insurance, Sylva's Town Manager Paige Roberson informed the Sylva Town Council that drastic measures needed to be taken in the upcoming fiscal year.

The proposed budget Roberson presented to the council called for a five percent tax increase to the general operating fund for Sylva, which would bring Sylva's tax rate to $.35 cents per $100 of property valuation. Roberson told members of the Town Council that the proposed tax increase would be the first increase in 10 years.


Franklin town officials conducted their budget work session Tuesday night at Town Hall. Aldermen, the mayor, town manager, and various other officials came to the table ready for discussion of Franklin's budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Town Manager Warren Cabe had previously presented the board with his proposed budget at the Board of Aldermen meeting last week and after a week to review the proposals he had made, they reconvened to discuss possible changes or to ask questions regarding portions of the budget.

In the past Cabe had expressed his desire to keep tax rates the same as they currently are which is $0.25 for every $100 and the new budget confirms this and was not challenged by any of the officials.


Despite the December state Supreme Court ruling to uphold North Carolina's ban on sweepstakes machines, the games are still being played on uncertain legal terrain. On May 5, Michael Macke, owner of Gift Surplus, LLC, filed civil summonses against regional officials including Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland, Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell, Sylva Police Chief David Woodard and District Attorney Michael Bonfoey.

Macke's complaint comes after his business was affected by the closing of sweepstakes establishments in Jackson and Macon counties. One of his customers, Mark Berry of Macon County was found not guilty of four misdemeanor charges of operating a sweepstakes machine in violation of the law.


Check your mail for something new and make sure your car is road ready. The first combined tag and tax notices will be mailed on a revised schedule, going out for September renewals. The program will be ready to implement on July 1 when the DMV will begin collecting, however the first combined tag and tax notices will be for vehicle renewals due in September 2013.

The new bills will reflect both vehicle property tax information from counties and other taxing jurisdictions, as well as vehicle registration and inspection information. Drivers used to pay for tags and taxes separately. The new program, “Tag & Tax Together,” will require one payment for both bills. Both tag renewals and tax payments must be paid in full to renew vehicle registration.


Over the last few months, a variety of issues have come in front of the Franklin Board of Aldermen and Monday night, Town Attorney John Henning Jr. addressed many of them, giving updates and addressing concerns.

Henning began by discussing the ordinance that restricts the discharge of a firearm inside the city limits to police officers as it pertains to a proposed indoor shooting range that could be established on an Ulco Drive property. Though the board did not have any pressing concerns regarding the range, the current ordinance that is on the books does not allow citizens to shoot guns in the city limits.


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