After taking his Oath of Office for his third term as Franklin’s. Mayor, Bob Scott addressed his fellow board members in a ‘State of Franklin” address:
“As we begin another two years serving the Town of Franklin, I would ask that you indulge me in giving me a few minutes to talk about what we have before us.
First, let me say that the most valuable thing we have as a town is our wonderful town employees who give so much and go above and beyond to make sure our town remains a wonderful place to live and visit. We owe so much to them.
Also, I would remind the board about a logo of one of our nation’s national newspapers. That is that Democracy Dies in Darkness. I am so very proud that this board has had very few close meetings in the past four years and I would encourage the board to always find reasons not to go behind closed doors but find reasons to conduct our business before the public. As such, I will work to see that the town adheres to the North Carolina Open Meetings and Public Records laws.
We, as a board, exist to conduct the public’s business. And in that vein, I would remind you of the high ethical standards the public demands of us.
I am concerned about the status of our Angel Medical Center and their looking at a potential site for a replacement facility. I welcome this but at the same time I am still not clear on what may happen with the old facility. Mission Health has closed our Labor Delivery Unit and at this time I am worried about the future of our medical care as this is another example of what is happening nationally to health care at the expense of small communities such as ours.
Parking. We will be diligently practicing and studying to come up with a new parking plan for Main Street, or, we may decide that the present system is viable. I do believe that we must look to enforcing careless parking and parking of large wheel base vehicles. Deciding on the best use of the Whitmire property is high on our list of things to decide.
Cities and towns continue to have philosophical differences with the NC Legislature and Washington. Financial help from both is in decline. On the state level we have seen our right to involuntary annexation taken away, water, sewer systems and airports threatened and a move to make municipal elections partisan. At present most of the towns and cities are non-partisan and this relieves us of having to make decisions based on political affiliations. Also we are seeing impacts on our Powell Funds which is how we maintain streets and sidewalks, we have lost the ability to charge privilege licenses and we could be seeing far reaching consequences on state and national cutbacks in funding for general and human services.
In Washington there is a move to revoke the Johnson Amendment which would allow non-profits and religious organization to enter into the political arena without losing their tax exempt status. This could have a far-reaching effect on our non-profit funding pool to the extent that we might look at doing away with it if the amendment is revoked.
We will probably be faced with looking at a tax increase to work at getting rid of a backlog of deferred maintenance. I would hope that we look hard at the ¼ cent sales tax increase which cities and towns can pass.
To maintain our current level of fire service we will likely have to ask for a two or 3 cent increase in the fire tax if the board decides it necessary. At the moment we have no idea of what effect the county’s new Fire Task Force is going to have on the Franklin Fire Department.
Our many festivals continue to be a driving force for increased sales tax revenues which benefits the town as well as the county. We have experienced increased numbers of people visiting Franklin as a result of the Eclipse which was estimated to draw 10,000 people to town. We had the largest Pumpkinfest and Winter Wonderlands and our Veterans Day is still getting accolades for what the town did.
I hope this board will adopt a noise/nuisance ordinance tonight or at least by the January meeting.
In January I would like to have a special meeting to talk about our visions for Franklin and work toward a strategic plan for Franklin moving forward.
I urge all board members to take advantage of the School of Government and NC League of Municipalities training, seminars and conferences. I urge each of you to begin working toward the different classification in the Local Elected Leaders Academy.
Thanks to all who serve on Franklin’s various boards, authorities and commissions. You have no idea just how valuable your service is to the Town.
Finally, thank each of you for working diligently for Franklin. We have some tough issues facing us.”