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Franklin approves premium pay policy

Franklin approves premium pay policy

Franklin Town Council has agreed on how to spend $73,000 of the town’s $1.3 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan. 

During the Council’s Nov. 1 meeting, Town Manager Amie Owens presented the board with three options to use a portion of the funding to show appreciation to the town’s employees that worked during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

The first option was to do nothing. The second option was to match what Macon County Commissioners did — to give employees a $2,000 bonus twice a year through 2024 — which would cost $930,000. 

The third option — the one Owens recommended — was to give full-time employees a one-time bonus of $1,000 and an additional 40 hours of vacation time and give part-time employees a one-time $500 bonus. This option costs $73,000, which would still leave the town with more than $1 million to use toward other needs. 

During the meeting, Councilmember Jack Horton said he saw the third option as a reasonable approach — a way to reward employees but also do what’s right for the residents of Franklin. Horton’s motion passed unanimously. 

The board met again Dec. 6 to swear in Horton as the town’s new mayor and swear in board members David Culpepper, Rita Salain and Stacy Guffey. With a new board in place, Owens said the councilmembers need to have more discussion to set priorities for the rest of the funding. 

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“We have a lot of infrastructure considerations to consider so once we have our board retreat, we’ll know what our priorities are,” Owens said. 

The ARP funds must be spent by December 2026. Franklin has received half of its funds — $654,000 — and expects to receive the other half next spring. 

“The guidelines have changed a couple times so our finance director has been in contact with the treasury department to make we are adhering to the proposed guidelines, but we know infrastructure is one of the key things,” Owens said. “We’re waiting on confirmation from the treasury to make sure our premium pay policy meets the guidelines.”

Horton said he would like to see the rest of the funding put toward the town’s water and sewer infrastructure — something the council has been working toward for the last few years 

“We’re currently doing major improvement project at the water treatment plant. The first phase is $1 millio,n and we have several phases after that so we’re looking at an excess of $5 million,” he said. “And we still have areas to work on for sewer, like pump stations and inflation — so it’s really going to be a big help. Like most places, as we grow, the demand grows and sometimes you worry about meeting the demand and fail to maintain the system you have.”

With a new town manager, two new members joining the board and one appointment to be made to the board, Horton said they’re in a little bit of a learning curve right now but hopes to discuss projects and guidelines early in the year. 

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