The Frankford Town Council this week discussed painting its water tower. At their June 1 meeting, the council reviewed two estimates for repainting the water tower, with the estimated cost ranging from $113,000 to $195,000.
“Our main concern is how we’re going to pay for this,” said Council President Joanne Bacon.
Resident Bernard Lynch recommended that the council seek grants to help pay for the project. Some residents asked whether or not realty transfer tax given to the Town from the State could be used to pay for the project.
Transfer tax revenue is limited to being spent on capital and operating costs of public safety services, economic development programs, public works services, capital projects and improvements, infrastructure projects and improvements and debt reduction.
At Monday’s meeting, Town Administrator Terry Truitt said she had not spoken to the Town’s accountants to see if the funds could be used to pay for the water tower.
On Monday, June 15, at 7 p.m. the Town will hold a workshop to discuss getting a grant for the water tower work, as well as to review the employee handbook.
The Town has recently received funds from the Sussex County Law Enforcement Supplemental Grant, which will be used to make improvements to the police department.
“This year, there was a $10,000 addition to the funds,” said Frankford Police Chief Michael Warchol.
With those funds, the police department was able to purchase a safe that will be used to store evidence in the police department. The council also approved $1,000 of those funds to be used to purchase equipment, such as evidence bags and tape, and other supplies for investigations.
The department also did not have a way to test drugs recovered during an investigation until now, and the council approved the purchase of a $300 drug kit for the department, while $350 of the funds will go to purchasing new badges for the department.
As the Town currently only has unmarked police vehicles, $800 will be used to have the newest vehicle marked.
The Town is also looking into having some of the funds pay for a security system in the town park.
Warchol said the remainder of the funds would go to paying for department salaries and overtime.
Currently, Warchol is preparing a federal grant application for $3,000 to pay for body armor for himself and the department’s second officer, who is yet to be hired.
He also noted that the stairway leading up to police department, while temporarily repaired, will need to be replaced soon.
Also this week, the council voted unanimously to change the hours of operation at town hall to open at 8 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with town hall opening at 9:30 a.m. and closing at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Town hall will also be closed on weekdays from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, effective July 1.
Councilwoman Velicia Melson said she had checked with the Towns of Millville, Selbyville and Dagsboro — all of which are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with an hour lunch.
“Right now, it’s not cost-effective to be open to 5:30,” said Melson.
Bacon said the Town’s healthcare and pension process “have come to a standstill” after some issues arose.
“I hope for it to be in effect by July 1,” she said.
Dean Esham asked Bacon that, since the plan was approved in February, should they not have have been set up within 60 days of that vote.
“It is not the employees’ fault,” said Bacon. “I will accept the blame for that. It’s my fault that it’s not done. I was in the process, and then I ran into a problem with healthcare.gov that had to be resolved. It is resolved now, and it’s a matter of getting their applications in.”
Resident Jerry Smith asked what specifically the plan would cover. Bacon said they would only be contributing 80 percent to employees’ healthcare and prescription plan coverage, with the remaining 20 percent to be picked up by the individual employees. Bacon said employees would no longer have coverage for ocular or dental insurance through the Town.
Resident Marty Presley, who served on the healthcare and pension committee, said the Town employees’ will receive an additional $300 per month, along with a 5 percent pension-plan contribution.
“Just those two things alone, you’re looking between a $5,000 to $7,000 annual total compensation boost.”
In other Town news:
• The council will interview attorney Timothy Willard for the vacant town solicitor position on Monday, June 8, at 7 p.m.
• The Town will hold the first hearing for the 2016-fiscal-year budget on June 22 at 7 p.m. at town hall. The second hearing and a possible vote will be held on July 13, at 7 p.m. at town hall. The Town’s budget must be adopted by July 15.
• Frankford Fire Chief Robbie Murray said the company would like to help with the Town’s fall festival this year. Last year, the festival was canceled due to lack of community members offering to volunteer.
“I would like to see Santa Claus visit the park a couple of times in December, and have the department up there with cookies and hot chocolate,” added Murray. “If we’re going to do that, I think it’s important to get on Santa’s schedule right now.”
The council agreed, and an event committee will be created to help plan the two events. Presley also volunteered to help.