Just the Facts

TDA approves funding requests for sculpture grounds and Ruby Drop

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Dan Finnerty

With Chairperson Connie Grubermann out of town, Franklin Town Manager Amie Owens led the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) through its monthly meeting Dec. 11 at the Town Hall Board Room. Two requests for support were voted on, one for the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC), and the other for Crabtree Family Entertainment’s New Year’s Eve Ruby Drop.

The FHAMC application sought support to assist with landscaping and sculpture installation for the “Sowing the Seeds of the Future,” sculpture, to be installed in March 2024 at a park on East Main Street (Click here to see Nov. 9 article). The application included the need for “infrastructure funding to make improvements to the sculpture site to further enhance the river district area to promote tourism and town beautification.”

The request for $10,000 was considered too burdensome on the TDA budget, as expressed by some board members. 

THE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT Authority at its Dec. 12 meeting approved $5,000 to assist with the building of a park and foundation for the “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” sculpture, to be installed in March 2024 in East Franklin.

However, member Angela Faye-Martin offered, “I look at it as an incredible plus for the town to draw people, particularly the kind of people who are interested in history, culture, and eco-tourism. It’s a beautiful thing that everyone can appreciate.”

After discussion on budgeting and additional support provided within the county from the Tourism Development Committee (TDC) for the project, a motion was made to approve $5,000 of the original request, which passed unanimously.

The other application was for the 10th annual Ruby Drop, sponsored by Crabtree Family Enterprises, which requested $3,800 for this year’s event. The request mirrored the amount requested from TDC to help offset expenses. Tim Crabtree, TDA member and an owner of Crabtree Family Entertainment, stated the cost for this year’s Ruby Drop increased due to some additional contracted services, including a local band, V8’s, scheduled to perform at the event. After a brief discussion, members voted unanimously to support the request.

Owens also delivered the 2023 fiscal year-to-date budget, through October. She reported $18,956.17 received through occupancy tax for October.

“The amount was lower than the past couple of years, but was still above the average of approximately $16,000 historically,” said Owens. The budget ordinance revealed $134,935.65 expended this year, which is on target for projected spending. The municipal fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 and currently the TDA fund balance stands at $161,452.11.

The next scheduled TDA meeting is set for Monday, Jan. 8.