Mayor shoots down gun bill
By Skip Anderson, Managing Editor
Photos by Skip Anderson
Franklin Mayor Dr. Ken Moore, pictured, cast the tiebreak vote on a bill last night that would have allowed the public to carry handguns in City Hall. Vice Mayor Dana McLendon sponsored the resolution.
McLendon, wearing microphones from two local television news stations on hand to cover the deliberations, gave a lengthy explanation of his support for the ordinance prior to the vote.
“Those signs on the door are not protecting anyone from a person with mischief on their mind,” McLendon said, referring to the notifications adhered to the building’s entrances stating that guns are not allowed on the premises. “We have offered only the illusion of safety.”
Ward 3 Alderman Michael Skinner said his “no” vote was based upon safety.
“Accidents happen all the time,” he said.
McLendon, a trial lawyer, was absent from the BOMA work session earlier in the afternoon and was late to the voting session due to court proceedings, he said. McLendon, who has a state-issued permit to carry a handgun, previously stated that he carries a handgun most of the time when allowed to by law.
At-large Aldermen Pearl Bransford and Clyde Barnhill, and Ward 1 Alderman Beverly Burger joined McLendon in voting in favor of the ordinance, while Skinner, Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin, and At-large Aldermen Brandy Blanton and Ann Petersen voted against.
Upon tallying the 4-4 hand vote, Moore quickly said, “I vote against, the motion fails.”
“It’s unusual that I ever get to vote,” Moore said after the meeting. “It was a controversial issue.”
Moore, who said he has treated multiple gunshot wounds during his career as a physician, said he received contact from several constituents regarding the measure, “with nobody in support of it.”
When asked whether additional measure would be taken to keep guns out of the building – there are no metal detectors and few, if any, armed officers on site at any given time – Moore said the Franklin Police Department has agreed to increase the frequency of its unscheduled patrols.
BOMA might soon increase the salaries of many of the city’s civil servants beyond the two percent cost-of-living adjustment scheduled for the beginning of the new fiscal year.
“This is very much a new pay plan,” Stuckey said during the work session in which he introduced the “City of Franklin Comprehensive Classification and Compensation Study.”
The goal of the study, according to a memo to BOMA signed by Stuckey, “is to update the City of Franklin’s pay plan to provide a highly competitive pay structure that attracts and retains top talent to deliver high-quality city services to the community.”
Toward that end, pay scales will be modified to ensure its employees salaries are in the top 70 percent for comparable communities.
“We’re looking to update every job description in the city,” Stuckey said. “And we’re targeting ourselves to be in the upper echelon of public employers. We think that is important to the city of Franklin. We think that translates into high quality of service and meets the expectations of this community.”
The study, conducted by Burris, Thompson and Associates, cost $45,815, according to Milissa Reierson, communications manager for Franklin.
The cost of Phase I – “adjusting pay to ensure all employees salaries are at least at the new pay range minimums for their jobs,” according to the ordinance – would increase the city’s payroll by $259,778, including FICA (federal withholding that goes toward Social Security and Medicare). Phase II would further adjust some salaries in fiscal year 2015 based upon individual parity within departments.
The cost of Phase II is not available, Reierson said.
No jobs will be eliminated through this process, nor will any salaries be lowered, she said.
Affordable Housing Project
In a 6-2 vote, the board advanced a controversial rezone request to its second reading on July 23, which would also be a public hearing for the property located at 1319 West Main Street. The measure would rezone about 1.45 acres across the street from the Williamson County Administrative Complex – formerly the Williamson County Hospital – from office residential district to residential variety district. Developer Daniel Woods of the Addison Group previously indicated to city officials he would like to build a 35-unit, three-story apartment building that would be “affordable housing,” sometimes called “workforce housing.” One-bedroom units would rent for $625 per month, Woods told BOMA at its work session June 11.
Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin raised concerns about the density of the units during that non-voting meeting.
“You’re squishing it all in,” she said.
“We started with 48 units,” he said, indicating that the plans submitted already represent a compromise.
Other aldermen also voiced concern that the structure, as planned, would abut West Main Street more closely than neighboring properties, limiting road-widening options in the future.
“Typically I am for affordable housing,” Martin said at the June 25 meeting. “However, this is the one time I cannot support this. This would be the only location that would be up on the street like this. I don’t think it’s wise to do it.”
At-large Alderman Pearl Bransford supports the measure.
“This is a great opportunity to let citizens in this part of our community know that we value them,” Bransford said. “I look forward to creating opportunity in Franklin for many who don’t currently have it.”
“We may do an injustice by not having a public hearing,” At-large Alderman Clyde Barnhill said. “I think it’s an opportunity to hear from the public for additional input.”
Vice Mayor Dana McLendon described this zoning variance request as “a crucible for the entire conversation” on affordable housing in Franklin.
“When we’re talking in the abstract, we all pay lip service to affordable housing,” McLendon said. “I’m not even sure how I’ll vote on this one at the end of the day, but I am for a public hearing.”
Bransford bolstered her support immediately prior to the vote.
“There comes a time when this board needs to stand up and make decisions,” she said. “The status quo is not going to allow the density to have the kind of affordable housing we need in Franklin, Tenn.”
City Possibly Exploring New Parking Garage
Following BOMA’s private executive session near the meeting’s conclusion, McLendon announced that the city would waive a potential conflict of interest between a client of the law firm Bass, Berry and Sims, who a spokesperson for Franklin would not name, and the city.
The city “plans to hire [BB&S] to assist us in exploring another downtown parking garage,” said Milissa Reierson, city communications manager. “The firm represents another client who may be adverse to our interests as it pertains to parking garages.”
Bass, Berry and Sims is “the city’s bond counsel and firm,” she said.
Posted on: 6/26/2013