Frankford council policy on citizens speech tested

Date Published: 
June 7, 2013

Frankford’s June town council meeting was brief this week, ending in just a half-hour. The June 3 meeting started off on shaky footing, with resident Greg Welch wanting to speak during the citizen’s privilege section about water rates, which wasn’t posted as an agenda item. Per the council’s newly adopted policy, citizens of Frankford are only supposed to speak about posted agenda items during citizen’s privilege.

“I couldn’t even be on the agenda,” said Welch, asserting that he had asked Town Administrator Terry Truitt in writing whether he could have the issue on the agenda, but that it had not been added.

“Why am I not allowed on the agenda?” Welch asked.

“Do you have a question about the water meter?” asked Council President Jesse Truitt. Welch said he did. He then said he wanted to talk about being denied a spot on the agenda.

“You are beating a dead horse.” Jesse Truitt told him.

Welch did talk about water, though, eventually saying that the Town didn’t need new water meters — something officials have said in the past could help with perpetually late water bills.

Later, Welch said he also wanted to ask about pensions for town employees, which the council discussed at a May 21 workshop with Trena Giddings, human resource specialist for the State of Delaware Office of Pensions. That issue was also not on the agenda and was not brought up at the June council meeting.

The minutes of the May 21 meeting state that “a packet with specific relevant employee payroll data related salary information was also included but not included in open discussion. It was noted that no formal decisions were made and further discussion/options will be actively pursued.”

Robert Murray, another resident of the town, said that he wanted to have line items on what the Town spent.

“I called the Attorney General, and they said that was a violation of FOIA and asked if I wanted to file a complaint, and I said, ‘Not at this time.’”

“We’ll try to get you a line item,” said Jesse Truitt, adding that Murray could request a financial report that they produce every month.

“Anybody else got anything else to say?” asked Truitt. Getting no response, he added, “Let’s get on with our meeting.”

Also at the June 3 meeting, the Town held a hearing on the budget for the 2014 fiscal year. The council voted to proceed with advertising the proposed budget, as is required before it can be adopted. There are no proposed tax or water rate increases, but Councilwoman Joanne Bacon expressed concerns over what the Town is paying for employees’ health insurance.

The 2014 budget has revenue and expenditures of $775,362 each. Last year’s totals were $709,109 each.

Police Chief William Dudley said it had been quiet for police in the previous month, with 47 total traffic arrests, no criminal arrests and 18 calls for service. He said the town park is getting a lot of use and has been reserved for events for each of the past four weekends.

Bacon read a resolution that the Town accepted to apply for additional matching grant funds up to $30,000 from the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund, to complete the park renovation with new features, such as slides and swings. The Frankford Volunteer Fire Company has also donated some bleachers so that there is seating for park-goers.

Dudley asked that people with children be vigilant about safety issues, such as bicycle helmets and general safety, with children this summer season.

“We have discussed kids in the street as a parental issue so far because we don’t want to have to start writing $25 tickets for the kids and the parents for no helmets.” Delaware law requires anyone younger than 18 to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. He said it is especially dangerous on Honolulu, where the marked speed limit is 35 miles per hour and not the 25 mph that it is inside town limits.

The town council this week also voted to accept the highest bid made on the police department’s used 2004 Crown Victoria, from Daisey’s Used Car Inc., in the amount of $2,879.