By BROOKE WANSER
After city leaders acknowledged a recently enacted sales tax hike had not been distributed to the Franklin Special School District, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen failed to pass a proposal to remedy the oversight on Tuesday night.
By a vote of 4-3, the board overturned an agreement with the FSSD which would allow the city’s portion of half the .5 percent sales tax increase to go to the funding of new schools.
The new sales tax took effect on April 1, 2018, and each city in Williamson County originally agreed to forgo their share of the tax for three years. Williamson County Schools have already been receiving their funding.
At the last Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, city leaders said the special school district, which serves Franklin children in kindergarten through eighth grade, had not received any of the funding due to what they said was an “oversight.”
City Administrator Eric Stuckey said he believed assumptions were made on the part of both school districts, “and the county assumed it was all theirs.”
“This is an option to work around that,” he said, and would help city leaders moving forward.
Stuckey said he had not yet gotten comment back from the county’s attorney, and asked the mayor to incorporate an authority that would allow future changes.
City leaders disagreed mainly on adding an additional six months of funding to the original three year agreement, in which they were to give their share of the city tax to the school district.
Alderman Clyde Barnhill said the city’s original contract with the county was the contract they should honor.
“I’m a little annoyed that I’m being asked to give up three-and-a-half million dollars, in order to give up something that I don’t even have yet,” he said of the monies that would go towards the schools.
“I have never seen this type of deal, and I won’t support it,” he said.
Ward 1 Alderman Bev Burger agreed with Barnhill.
Ward 3 Alderman Scott Speedy referred to a mailer from the sales tax referendum vote, noting the details of the purpose for the increase.
“I don’t think anywhere that would imply that FSSD would be excluded for the first three years,” he said.
“When I cast my vote, it was clearly in my mind that we would allocate this money along those parameters that we allocate all our money,” said Ward 2 Alderman Dana McLendon.
McLendon also said the fight of who should have the money was not one the city should get involved with, but one the two school districts should decide.
“I really don’t look at it like that,” said Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin. “These are our children.”
“This is what’s bringing people to Franklin anyway,” she argued. “If we want to stop all that, and stop all growth, then fine.”
“If we can’t do a little bit to help, I think it’s sad,” she finished, noting her support for the proposal.