County strikes down sales tax contribution to Franklin Special School District

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An agreement to allocate city and county funds to the Franklin Special School District has fallen through.

The Williamson County Commission voted March 11 against a resolution to enter into an interlocal agreement with the city of Franklin and FSSD to distribute a portion of a 2018 sales tax increase to FSSD.

The agreement would have given FSSD a portion of the sales tax increase approved by voters Feb. 6, 2018, totaling $1.8 million over three years, or about 8 percent of the tax increase. The cost would have been split by Williamson County and the city of Franklin, each contributing $300,000 per year, according to Franklin City Manager Eric Stuckey.

Following the sales tax increase, sales and use tax revenues were split in half between the entity that collected it and public schools, as mandated by the state. The entities had agreed to forfeit the other half to the schools for a three-year period. However, officials said it was unclear how the gifted revenue would be split between FSSD and Williamson County Schools.

“Somewhere in there it got lost in translation what was to happen with the gifted amount,” District 11 Commissioner Brian Beathard said during the meeting.  “The question is when we told the citizens that the other half was also going to go to schools for three years, did those individuals think … the money would be distributed in the same manner?”

Several FSSD parents spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting in favor of the agreement, as did FSSD Chairman Tim Stillings, who called the issue a misunderstanding between the governing bodies.

[The city of Franklin’s] understanding [was]that the portion of sales tax revenue that the city of Franklin agreed to forfeit back to the educational system would be used also for schools in the FSSD,” he said.

However, other commissioners argued the agreement would take money paid from other areas of the county and gift it to FSSD, which is only open to students in the city of Franklin.

“I’ve had a couple of my constituents say if you give them money out of the general fund, you’re taking my tax dollars and giving it to [FSSD],” District 4 Commissioner Barb Sturgeon said. “Somebody needs to prove to me that I’m not giving county taxes that come from Brentwood or Fairview or wherever and giving it to [FSSD].”

Following more than two hours of discussion, the resolution failed in a 13-9 vote. Because Williamson County did not approve the resolution, the agreement is now void, according to a forum note from Beathard.

“This [was]Plan B and unfortunately there is no Plan C,” Beathard said.

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Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.
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