Following the December retirement of Frankford Police Chief William Dudley, Councilman Charles Shelton addressed residents regarding concerns that the Town’s police department would be disbanded.
“We are right now looking to get someone to replace him,” he said at the Town’s Jan. 5 monthly meeting. “We haven’t made a decision yet, but we do still want to keep police in the town of Frankford… We definitely want to keep the police department going.”
Shelton said he wants to keep Frankford a safe place to live, work and visit.
He requested that those residents who have an opinion as to whether or not the police department should remain in town or be disbanded, to contact him, so he could share those thoughts with the council.
Resident Bernard Lynch asked if the Town could appoint Officer Nate Hudson, who was hired to be the department’s second officer in April 2011, as chief of the department.
“We’d like to have more than one [officer],” responded Shelton. “I want what’s best for the town and hear what the people want,” he said, adding that he had spoken with other towns and their chiefs, as to how the Town should proceed.
Robbie Murray recommended that the Town form a committee with residents and other persons who have a special knowledge regarding law enforcement.
“You standing up there alone isn’t representing us,” he said.
Shelton said he had no problem working with community members to look into how the Town should move forward.
Property owner Kathy Murray said the idea of creating committees had been suggested in the past, without any action from council.
Council agreed to form a committee and to have Shelton and councilwoman Cheryl Workman head the committee. Resident Skip Ash, along with Robbie Murray, volunteered to join the committee. Dean Esham said he would let council know if he could serve on the committee.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” said council president Joanne Bacon.
At its December council meeting, the council voted unanimously to table its pension talks until the cost of healthcare for Town employees is addressed. However, at Monday’s meeting, it was said that during the December Executive Session, council requested a third party source, separate from the State.
Council said the healthcare discussions would take place during Town Executive Sessions, as it deals with the policies of its employees.
“That has to be under Executive Session,” said Bacon.
Resident Marty Presley said the healthcare discussions should be held in a public meeting, as it is a budget issue.
“I would say it comes under budget issues, not necessarily under Executive Session,” said Presley.
“It does when it comes under the policies of the employees, which is private,” said Bacon.
Presley, who had previously given presentations to the council regarding pension options, urged the council to hold workshops to review healthcare and pension options for Town employees.
“The Town really needs to benchmark how much they intend to spend on employee benefits, and that includes the pension plan.”
He asked council to take a look at the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and how it affects the Town.
“There are a lot of complicated things you need to take a look at,” he said, adding that the council needs to act quickly, as open enrollment on the Marketplace ends Feb. 15.
Residents vocalized that they felt council was not taking strides in addressing the Town’s healthcare and pension issues.
“For six months Marty has been here every week and has offered his services,” said Esham. “To not listen to him is insane.”
“It feels very much as though the issue is being passed forward, passed forward, put on the next agenda, passed forward,” said resident Elizabeth Carpenter. “Eventually, time will run out and then nothing can be done. Then the costs are going to go up and the people who are going to suffer that cost are the people who live here and that’s not okay with me.”
“We live here also. The decisions we make, we know they’re going to affect us also,” said Workman. “We’re trying.”
“We just want you to make an informed motion,” responded Kathy Murray.
Council also voted to create working committee to review healthcare options for the Town. Bacon and councilwoman Pam Davis volunteered to head the committee, while Carpenter who works in healthcare, and resident Gerry Smith.
In other Town news:
• The Town held its second reading of the Flood Plain Maintenance Ordinance as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Kyle Gulbronson, of the engineering firm URS, told council that the ordinance would have to be approved by March 15, otherwise the Town can no longer participate in the Federal Flood Insurance Program. Gulbronson said the Town’s last Flood Plain Ordinance was updated in 1990.
“You’re very fortunate in Frankford,” he said. “You’re probably the town I know of in which the flood map hasn’t changed. You’re in really good shape.”
There will be a public hearing on the ordinance at the Town’s Feb. 3 council meeting.
• Kathy Murray requested to be placed on the February agenda regarding her letter of complaint against Workman and Town Administrator Terry Truitt. Murray addressed her complaint at the Town’s December meeting, In the letter she requested an apology from the two, and that they be reprimanded.