April 16, 2008

Franklin's wish list is growing!

City's wish list now worth $289 million
The Tennessean• April 16, 2008

FRANKLIN —The city's new shopping list is hundreds of pages long and includes slots for a new City Hall and police headquarters and money for parks and roads.
The newly released 2008 Capital Improvement Projects list proposes $289 million in brick-and-mortar projects to keep pace with Franklin's growth through the next five years. By comparison, aldermen projected to spend $153.4 million through 2010 in the last CIP project released in 2005.
But the Board of Mayor and Aldermen faces hard choices: What projects should be shed and what should be kept? What should be spent now and what can't afford to wait?
"It's up to the board to decide how much of a priority we can afford to spend this year and how much can we afford to put things back," Mayor John Schroer said. "Those are things that I think have to be discussed."
The choices begin later this month when aldermen will meet twice to parse through the projects city staff are proposing to launch through 2012.
Launching new projects has not come fast enough in recent years for Alderman Dan Klatt, who says Franklin's infrastructure is still playing catch-up to its growth.
"I believe that we are behind," Klatt said. "We've lost time in implementing (board) decisions for infrastructure improvements."
Projects like the widening of Hillsboro Road and installing a new line to supply sewer to Goose Creek should have begun before now, Klatt said.
Work on Hillsboro Road has yet to begin, while the Five Mile Creek sewer project has only recently been ironed out after months of controversy.
Meanwhile, the expense of projects has grown over time, too.
In 2005, aldermen set aside $10 million for two phases of widening Hillsboro Road. While that money has yet to be spent, costs of the road's upgrades have increased. Now aldermen have decided to widen the entirety of the road as it enters the city.
The price tag? In excess of $30 million.
The challenge becomes paying for the overdue work and the new projects on the horizon.
"How do we prioritize them and pay for a City Hall replacement? And a new police headquarters is going to be a challenge," said Klatt, who has led work to build a new City Hall and the city's next police headquarters.
In some cases, the tight national economic times might benefit Franklin. Alderman Mike Skinner says competing companies could pick up bargains on work.
"Some of these projects might be a little cheaper because the construction companies might have less to do, especially some of these road projects," Skinner said.
Schroer, who said he's gone through the CIP list twice already, wants aldermen to rank their priorities of what projects to launch first.
Alderman Clyde Barnhill has done that. He wants to defer parks projects, such as the Battle of Franklin's eastern flank and Harlinsdale Farm, in order to spend more money on road, water and sewer upgrades.
"There will be some items in the capital improvement budget that we will have to defer in order to concentrate on things that the citizens of Franklin have asked us to concentrate on," Barnhill said.

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