Archived Story

So little spent on youth in Franklin

Published 9:44am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

by Thomas  H. Councill Jr.

Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn and Councilwoman Mary Hilliard lead a black woman majority on the Franklin City Council.

Because they have the majority of the votes, Ashburn and Hilliard run the City of Franklin.

This report is to inform the voters on how Ashburn and Hilliard are spending tax dollars on city recreation programs.

The 2010 U.S. Census indicated the City of Franklin has 2,295 children and teenagers.

According to information given to the Recreation Advisory Committee by the Franklin Department of Parks & Recreation, the primary youth programs that the recreation department’s staff runs for these young people are Bingo, Dominoes and Summer Super Jam. The other programs are run by volunteers and are fee-based.

To provide Bingo, Dominoes and Summer Super Jam to the community, Ashburn and Hilliard paid $289,415 for staff and benefits for 2010-2011, $289,991 for 2011-2012 and $297,419 for 2012-2013.

Their spending for salaries, wages, FICA tax, retirement, hospitalization/medical plans, life insurance, unemployment claims, workmen’s compensation, gifts and bonuses for the three years totaled $876,825.

To provide Bingo, Dominoes, Youth Club and Summer Super Jam to the community, Ashburn and Hilliard spent $9,574 for 2010-2011, $9,881 for 2011-2012 and $7,000 for 2012-2013. Their spending for Bingo, Dominoes, Youth Club and Summer Super Jam for the three years totaled $26,455.

Ashburn and Hilliard spent $289,415 on staff for them to spend $9,574 for 2010-2011.

This means that Ashburn and Hilliard spent $4.17 per child.

The city refuses to give me an official breakdown on its line item spending, but based on what I’ve been given, Ashburn and Hilliard spent 10 cents per child to play Bingo, 7 cents per child to play Dominoes, $1 per child to be in the Youth Club and $3 per child to be in Summer Jam. However the latest Summer Jam figures are harder to discern because the recreation program splits its cost with the Boys & Girls Club.

Fiscal year 2012-2013 was a bad year for recreation programs. Ashburn and Hilliard budgeted $12,000 for Bingo, Dominoes, Youth Club and Summer Super Jam.

But for some reason that no one can explain, Ashburn and Hilliard forced the department to return $5,000 to the general fund. This means that the Ashburn and Hilliard spent 71 cents per child, or stated differently, 2 cents per child for Bingo, 4 cents per child for Dominoes, 15 cents per child for Youth Club and 50 cents per child for Summer Jam.

I’ve taken the time to see what is going on, and I haven’t seen any kids playing dominoes. So, I think the staff have inflated the program list.

We see children committing suicide and mass murder, raping and chasing chaos.

As a community, we have the choice of trying to fix our youth problems, or to keep doing what we’ve been doing, which is paying a lot of money to city staff to do nothing.

The first thing we need to do is get rid of Ashburn and Hilliard.

Maybe we need to lobby the state for a change in the City Charter to allow us to recall politicians when staff-pay and benefits are greater than the department’s services rendered.

THOMAS H. COUNCILL JR. is vice chairman of the Franklin Parks and Recreation Advsiory Committee and can be reached at thomas_councill@hotmail.com.

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