By unanimous vote Wednesday the council made the reinvestment commitment which is consistent with promises given in public forums since Mayor Steve Tumlin broached the plan as a way to revitalize a poorly maintained and crime-ridden area that will only get worse over time. If such funds are not reinvested in the area, then the council must use the money to retire the bond debt.
Thus the council precluded its use of any proceeds from Franklin Road property sales going into the city’s general fund to be spent on any “governmental purpose,” as Councilman Philip Goldstein pointed out during discussion of the council-binding vote.
The council also recommended that its policy be adopted in the new council term beginning next January. However, under state law this council cannot bind a future council’s decisions, and Goldstein proposed an amendment to the bond language binding future councils. While this would have been preferable, there is not enough time to advertise the change before the Nov. 5 election date, as the mayor pointed out.
But it is extremely unlikely that the next council or its successors would be so politically suicidal as to do anything counter to the original intent of this council on this matter, and it should not gain traction as an issue in the referendum. The main thing is still the main thing – a way forward to revitalize the Franklin Road corridor.
As we have pointed out before, the area is not likely to “cure itself” in the foreseeable future, and the bond issue plan approved by City Council could be the way to reverse the decline of that corridor and realize its underlying value. Its proximity to Interstate 75 makes it a prime location for private development that would add to the commerce, employment and property values the city needs. The City Council’s decision binding itself to reinvestment gives welcome reassurance to voters as they consider the overall bond proposal in the upcoming referendum.