Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

The Town of Franklin approved Town Manager Summer Woodard’s $8.5 million budget on Monday night, which holds Franklin at the current tax rate of 28 cents per $100 valuation. Franklin Mayor Bob Scott had asked town officials to consider a 2 percent tax increase during the board’s May work session, but the increase was not discussed further on Monday night.

During public comment on the budget, Franklin resident Angela Moore thanked aldermen for not agreeing with Mayor Scott’s proposed tax increase but suggested that more should be done to lower taxes in Franklin.

Moore asked the board to consider reducing the town’s budget by eliminating funding to entertainment services such as festivals currently provided by the town. Moore specifically identified funds allocated to the town of Franklin sponsored Pickin on the Square, which the town funds at $28,500 a year. Moore suggested things like that should be shifted to the Franklin Tourism Development and funded through their budget rather than the town’s. Moore was the only resident to speak on the budget.

In addition to approving the 2016-17 budget, aldermen approved spending funds in the current year’s budget to continue restoration to the town’s Memorial Park. To address safety concerns around the playground at the Franklin Memorial Park, aldermen unanimously voted to approve a contract with Playground Safety Services for $9,530 for cypress mulch around the playground equipment.

“We learned that we have been kind of penalized on our insurance for not having something around the playground; this will address that issue,” said Franklin Aldermen Joe Collins, who is the recreation liaison for the town. “We have a bid for a contractor, but we are still looking to see if we can save some dollars by installing the mulch in-house.”

The decision to go with mulch rather than rubberized matting that can be found at the county-owned Wesley’s Park was made based on upkeep and repairs. Aldermen Patti Abel noted she supported going with mulch, if the town also budgets funds in the coming years for replacement of the mulch each year to avoid mold and mildew build up. Woodard noted that would be something that could certainly be included in future budgets.

Street Closings

The Franklin Board of Aldermen voted to provide town law enforcement staff on July 28 at 4 p.m. to temporarily close Main Street for a parade put on by FolkMoot USA. Folkmoot USA, The State International Festival of North Carolina, is a two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance. Held each summer in  Western North Carolina, Folkmoot features performers demonstrating cultural heritage through colorful, authentic, and original reproduction costumes, lively dance, and traditional music. The performers will participate in a parade up Main Street, stopping at the Gazebo. Some performers will also perform on the town square following the parade. Mayor Scott said the event will bring more than 200 performers to Franklin. Later that night, Folkmoot USA will perform at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts beginning at 7 p.m.

The Franklin Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to close Stewart Street on Aug. 6, for the annual ‘80s Flashback 8k. The race is an annual event that benefits the Greenville Shriners Hospital. While the race is held on the Little Tennessee Greenway, the after party and award ceremony will be held along Stewart Street. The event includes dozens of raffle prizes with 100 percent of the proceeds being donated to the Greenville Shriners Hospital.