Frankford defers pension vote, moves citizens’ privilege

The Frankford Town Council met earlier this week and agreed to do more homework before voting on whether or not the Town should have an employee pension plan.

The Town has previously heard presentations from resident Marty Presley, who has 30 years of experience in the financial field, and Trena Giddings, a human resource specialist from the State of Delaware’s Office of Pensions.

“I hope you do vote against the pension plan,” said Resident Dean Esham, “especially the buy-in.”

Esham told council he personally spoke to a financial planner about whether or not it would be a good financial move to buy into the State’s plan.

“‘Hell no, that’s a stupid idea,’” Esham said the financial planner stated.

“‘If it’s not good for the individual, it’s definitely not for the town… It’s not a responsible thing to give them, for that reason I hope you say, ‘no.’”

Esham also voiced his concern that Police Chief William Dudley’s house is on the market, and that he may move soon.

“He’s going to cash it out and he’s going to run,” he said. “Frankford is basically giving him a $40,000 check. That’s not responsible... You guys are up here representing the people. You’ve got to do the right thing.”

Council President Joanne Bacon agreed that council would need more time before voting on the pension.

“I want to do what is right for the town,” agreed councilman Charles Shelton. “We’re all going to have to pay for this thing. We all have to do what’s right for us. We need to get this thing out of the way.

“What it’s doing is causing too much confusion, headaches, and animosity for the people of this town... I don’t want to jump up and get something that we can’t afford down the road.”

Councilwoman Pam Davis echoed Shelton.

“I want to do more homework... so that we understand each and every thing. We have a lot more homework to do before we make a decision like that,” she said. “If we do it together, we’ll come up with an answer together.”

Shelton requested that Presley reach out to providers who specialize in defined contribution plans so that the Town may hold a workshop on Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Presley said he would contact company representatives to come speak to the council, and requested that the council allow citizens to comment during the workshop.

“This is a decision that will affect the town of Frankford for years on end,” he said.

Property owner Kathy Murray also suggested the town take advantage of forming committees, which were discussed at previous meetings.

At the Nov. 3 meeting, council also voted to move citizens’ privilege from the beginning of the agenda to the end.

Councilwoman Cheryl Workman said the Town felt the having the time set aside at the beginning of the meetings could help them run “more mannerly.”

“I checked with a few of the mayors of the other towns,” she said. “Just about every town has their citizens’ privilege at the beginning.”

Councilman Jesse Truitt said he felt having citizens’ privilege at the end of the meetings would be a disservice to the residents, as they would then be unable to comment prior to any vote taken by council.

“If we don’t understand something you’re proposing, we cannot ask a question about it,” argued resident Jerry Smith. “We need to be able to participate and be able to ask you questions about things... You’re effectively shutting down our participation.”

Truitt said he didn’t want to shut down participation, but rather thought residents could ask questions and be more involved in the discussion prior to council’s vote.

Council voted 3-2 to move citizens’ privilege to the end of future agendas, with Shelton and Workman opposed.