All of Us Can Put an End to the Fleecing of Franklin

First off, I would like to thank the many involved residents of our fair city for continuing to focus on improving quality of life for all of our citizens. Unlike a small cadre of bullies, who continually feed local residents both their vitriol and inaccurate, unsupported statements, we at FCA do not find the citizens of Franklin:

  • to be "short sighted"

  • "possess zero comprehension"

  • or live in a world where "common sense is uncommon"

We revel in the fact we have a well educated, growingly diverse population. Unfortunately, due to being fed an endless parade of lies and disinformation, Franklin residents have clearly been duped over the last few years. Somehow, a very small segment of the population, has taken advantage of the fact, that those of us with busy lives, do not closely follow local politics. They have put all their efforts into how they, and a scant few developers, can best profit off of Franklin taxpayers. This has been managed, by somehow presenting their actions as pro-growth and pro-development - actions that will lower taxes for all Franklin residents. Unfortunately, the developments and policies they have been pursuing, have had the polar opposite effect of their stated goals.


FCA would like to call on all the intelligent, far sighted, common sense members of our community, to look at, and understand the facts around what has happened, and to focus on setting the ship right again. We no longer wish to be played, or even portrayed, as a ship of fools. Taxpayer dollars should benefit Franklin first, not go almost entirely to subsidizing already profitable developers.


This problem appears to have hit its zenith with the Strauss slaughterhouse proposal and the development of TID/TIF 6. This tax incremental district, met not a single qualification for such a development, yet committed, in total (with interest payments), over $14M in Franklin taxpayer dollars. In an ideal situation, these funds would be paid back by the taxes assessed on the development over 20 years. To be clear, what is being stated, is that in the best case scenario, for 20 years, no funds will go from this development toward paying for schools, police, firemen, etc. All funds go toward paying for the unneeded and unwanted infrastructure for a 3rd industrial park wedged into a residential area.


Let's finally stop the nonsense. No more lies about bringing in millions of tax dollars per year, when we'll be lucky if they even just pay for the TIF debt our current Franklin administration has committed us to, with zero input form voters. No more foolishness about how a grassroots local group has somehow cost the City money or good jobs, because finally a successful attempt has been mounted at calling out some of the current administration's most egregious transgressions. To the current Franklin administration, you have been caught in your lies (even by the civil court system at this point), you have been called out, and it is finally time for the residents of Franklin to start calling "bullshit."


To be factually clear, with regard to Copart and Strauss, No money for 20 years will offset taxes for the Franklin taxpayer. But the scenario can get significantly worse. Should the TIF underperform (currently happening with other TIFs in Franklin), your future tax dollars will go toward paying off the debt. That's right, to add insult to injury, Franklin taxpayers, may then be subsidizing, with their own money, this foolish development, they made very clear to Franklin government, they in no way wanted to begin with.


The picture with regard to positive growth, is also dismal at best. So far, this unneeded 3rd industrial park, in the most bizarre location, has attracted two major tenants. A Copart facility (auto auction/salvage) -55 acres, and the Strauss slaughterhouse -30 acres.

The Copart facility will create a total of 8 full time jobs. You may have heard of Copart, however, as Cudahy has been trying to get rid of the Copart facility they've had for years. When questioned why, the ugly and potential polluting issues from housing thousands of junked autos on a specific site is often brought up. But, one Cudahy official, surprisingly mentioned that the biggest issue for residents was the increased crime rate around the facility. Apparently, it has been the source of many local resident complaints for years.


So, the big pro-growth win for Franklin here, 8 probably low paying jobs, and a tax assessment rate, far lower than had a subdivision been built on the acreage. And all of this, for the small price of a multi-million dollar TIF district, the area in no way qualified for. Thanks for the big win, current Franklin administration. You spent years of effort, and ponied up millions of tax payer dollars, to attract a tenant no other community wanted, and one community desperately wants to get rid of. Kudos for amazingly being able to somehow sell this as a pro-growth, pro-business win for the Franklin taxpayer. But, as has been the case for quite some time now, as bad as this sounds, it still gets way worse.


The other proposed development, that FCA has now been battling on behalf of Franklin taxpayers, in court for the past16 months, is the Strauss slaughterhouse. This one has been more ballyhooed by Franklin government, as they've been able to manipulate and toss around more inaccurate figures in an attempt to at least put lipstick on this debacle. But, of course, there is not enough lipstick in the world to cover up the facts around this incredibly poor development choice either.


Just like Copart, and regardless of which inflated value you use, a subdivision on the property would have generated more tax revenue, and would not have required a TIF/TID. And also just like Copart, slaughterhouses generate a higher rate of crime in the surrounding vicinity. This is absolutely true of the current Strauss facility, although, again misstated and misrepresented by City officials.


But where things really run off the rails, has to do with the fact that slaughterhouses are perceived to be so unappealing due to noise, smells, pollution, traffic, crime, etc., they have been shown in numerous studies to detract from surrounding property values. FCA looks forward to the completion of the study (by the end of this month), we were forced to commission, since neither Strauss nor the City could be bothered with this detail. We already know from the preliminary data, that property values will go down. What we are waiting on from the full/final study, is the specific quantification by how much. It appears the figure will be significant.


Beyond this overall net tax loss, the other talking point seems to be that 271 "good jobs" will be created. In fact, in Strauss' own filing, they refer to 260 floor/processing/packaging jobs, which pay $14-$17 per hour, and 11 white collar jobs. As the "floor" jobs involve either the killing of, cleaning up of, or packaging of animals, no Franklin residents currently fill any of these positions. You can make the same amount working at Target, which is obviously a far, far preferable environment. So again, kudos to the current administration, for having the sheer audacity to sell this tax loser, with a net gain of 11 "good jobs," and a significant blow to the existing tax base, as a huge win for Franklin.


Furthermore, the City administration continues to ignore the will of the people, and has not only forced Franklin residents to create a lawsuit to be heard, they have forced the unnecessary continuation of this court action in some misguided attempt to save face, and get leverage from the civil court to enforce a side tax agreement with Strauss. Of course, this too is illegal. We've now degenerated to the absurd, since the applicant for the slaughterhouse, Strauss, has dropped out. Yes, you read that right.


In a new first, and a new low for Franklin, the Plan Commission and Common Council have now approved a special use permit (SUP) without an applicant. An approved application without an applicant, beyond being asinine, even ludicrous, simply proves what FCA has stated in court from the beginning. The fix was in on this absurd development years before it came to a vote. The entire process was not only deeply flawed, but continues to be an out and out sham against Franklin citizens.


In the next article, we'll analyze the time line, for the development of the "Loomis Business Park," and its associated tax burden- TIF/TID 6. And most importantly, we'll look at who is actually benefitting from this development, forced down the tax payers throats, strongly against their will, which they've made clear to the powers that be on multiple occasions.

-- spoiler alert --It is absolutely not the taxpaying citizens of Franklin, or the overall community


FRANKLIN RESIDENTS - YOUR TIME HAS COME. ONLY YOU CAN CREATE THE CHANGE REQUIRED. YOU NEED TO VOTE! To be clear, FCA members represent the entire political spectrum, and FCA does not support any particular ideology or party. We don't care what party you vote for, our concern is that you go out and vote. Ideally we want you to be able to make an informed decision so you can vote for a candidate focused on something greater than their own self interest.


What we're asking of you, is to actively participate in your community, to at least this minimum level. We've now seen first hand, how badly things can run off the rails, if citizens take their eye off the ball. Let's get our City back, and let's put an end to the waste of all of our hard earned tax dollars. Elections for Districts 1, 2 and 5 are on Tues. Apr 5th.



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