By Clellie Allen
FRANKLINTON — Making no one happy as they moved to take serious steps toward rectifying financial discrepancies in the previous budget, Franklinton town commissioners split on approving their budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, forcing a vote from Mayor Elic Senter, who voted to approve the budget with a $0.04 tax increase. The new tax rate moved from $0.68 to $0.72 per $100 of valuation.
The budget that passed did not, however, include the proposed 2-percent cost of living increase for employees.
The town was prompted to move swiftly on the tax increase as it came under intense scrutiny by the state for a shortfall in its budget after approving a $0.02 tax decrease last year.
The town received a letter at the end of April from Sharon Edmundson, the director of the fiscal management section from the Department of the State Treasury, calling attention to serious shortfalls in the town’s Water and Sewer Funds as well as an increasing need for the town to draw from the fund balance, which functions as a savings account for municipalities.
The town was directed to respond immediately to concerns with specific details as to what the remedies would be.
Town Manager Tammy Ray said that she moved to cut off all nonessential spending as of May 1.
She also responded with a written statement to rumors that the town was about to declare bankruptcy.
“The Town of Franklinton is not bankrupt and is not teetering on bankruptcy,” she wrote. In explaining the need for a tax increase, she wrote. “We must take steps immediately to correct the direction of our town finances or we will face further punitive action.”