Sustainability, a balanced budget, and the development of city employee support were highlighted at Franklin’s 2023 State of the City address on May 24, where Mayor Ken Moore shared each city department’s plan to enhance the quality of life for the Franklin community and its future.

“This is my 13th State of the City, and I don’t think that’s bad luck,” Moore said. “I think the list of accomplishments that we’re seeing grow every single year, and we should be really proud of the work our city team is doing every single day.”

The annual presentation at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin featured remarks by Moore, City Administrator Eric Stuckey, Franklin Police Chief Deb Faulkner, Franklin Fire Chief Glenn Johnson, and other administration officials.

Moore discussed the city’s achievements in 2022 and Capital Projects beginning or nearing completion in 2023 with a sports-style presentation in line with the 2023 theme “Crossing the Goal Line.” The address pinpointed several initiatives completed by the city in the past year and actions for the upcoming year.

The address began with a highlight video “City Center” hosted by Franklin native Mike Keith, the voice of the Tennessee Titans, showcasing Franklin’s accomplishments and a look at capital investment projects wrapping up and others that will be starting this year.

Mayor Moore began by talking with Emily Hunter Wright, Director of Planning and Sustainability, about updates to Envision Franklin, a strategic plan that directs future development for the City of Franklin and its residents. The Department plans to release an updated draft of the land use plan for Envision Franklin this fall.

The plan includes a potential arts/culture district in the area around The Factory at Franklin. Draft recommendations will be revealed at an upcoming meeting at The Factory on June 26 from 5-7 p.m.

Water Management Department Director Michelle Hatcher and Mark Hilty, Assistant Administrator for Public Works, shared the city’s Integrated Water Resources Plan for the utilization of water, wastewater, and the health of the Harpeth River through 2040. They have been working this past year on a water purification demonstration facility.

Stuckey discussed the proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. A portion of the budget for the city’s Capital Investment Plan, an ongoing service and solution to residents’ concerns about traffic and congestion, will help address Franklin’s growth and preservation.

“We did hear some concern, and we take those very seriously, and those are the areas we’re focused in on,” Stuckey said. “That’s why we spend all that money in the Capital Investment Program and we continue to work and look at ways we can address affordability and the community overall.”

Currently, Franklin has the lowest property tax rate in the state of Tennessee for a city over 50,000 in population. Franklin continues to gain national recognition, most recently from Southern Living magazine. In the city highlight reel, Keith compared Franklin to a sports team saying, “Team Franklin is “consistently in the Sweet 16 and Final 4 on a regular basis.”

Franklin has stood out as a community leader not only for their innovative programs for city sustainability but also for how they serve the individuals on their “city team.”

Human Resource Director Kevin Townsend shared the effort to improve the workplace environment for all Franklin employees. He cited that a “high-performing organization” is key to serving a flourishing community.

Faulkner and Johnson stepped up to the podium together to discuss police and fire department efforts in the past year.

“We believe that the public we serve deserves nothing but our best, so we’re constantly looking for high standards,” Faulkner said.

Officers responded to 81,000 calls for service, worked 43 special events, and made 1,504 arrests with the top offenses being assault and drug violations. The fire department received over 10,800 calls for service, of which 68% were medical emergencies.

The Franklin police department received international accreditation 22 years ago and is up for its 7th reaccreditation this fall. Franklin fire department celebrated its accomplishments as an ISO Class 1. ISO is a rating provided by the Insurance Services Office based on how well your department is able to serve the community. Only about 500 departments receive the rating of Class 1.

Moore and the two officials took a moment to address mental health within the community, for city employees and residents alike. The police currently have 27 specially trained officers to mentor and provide emotional support to their fellow officers, and firefighters have a new program dedicated to bringing awareness to mental and physical health through peer support.

“We rely on each other," Johnson said. “We want to take care and watch out for each other, so that’s the culture we’ve created in our department. We have to take care of those who take care of you.”

The address closed out with Moore thanking members of the community for their efforts. He also introduced new businesses coming to the community, including Google Fiber with its high-speed broadband internet service.

Google Fiber expects to start construction early next year and plans to serve Franklin customers by late 2024.

“Since breaking ground in Middle Tennessee, Google Fiber’s goal has always been to bring fiber optic internet to as many residents, organizations, and businesses as possible," Ryun Jackson, Government & Community Affairs Manager for Google Fiber, said in a news release. 

"In today’s always-on world, it’s more important than ever to have fast, reliable internet to connect to work, school, and each other. This is an exciting day, and we are looking forward to serving the residents of Franklin.”

At the end of the presentation, Moore reflected on 2022’s theme of “Better Together” and praised his fellow city workers and colleagues for their support and efforts to make Franklin a better place to live.

“We’re a community that works together,” Moore said. “We do things together and solve problems together so we can rise above the challenges we’re seeing. Last year, when we said better together, it was more than just a catchphrase. It really means that we all need to work together.”