Frankford residents dispute legalities of charter amendment

Date Published: 
June 6, 2014

Tension continues to build between Frankford residents and the Frankford Town Council as the process of amending the town charter progresses — and this week’s heated town council meeting demonstrated that, when residents gathered to demand answers.

In the June 2 meeting’s opening minutes, in which residents are allowed to voice their concerns about items on the official agenda, several citizens not only expressed their opposition to the proposed town charter amendment but questioned whether the process has been legal.

“It’s illegal, what you’ve done,” one resident claimed. “I want to know how you can change the town charter without notifying the people of the town what the [expletive] is going on.”

The outraged resident’s main concern was that the council voting process either wasn’t legal or never took place — on the basis that Council President Jesse Truitt should not have been able to vote, since the matter concerned his wife, Town Clerk Terry Truitt, who would benefit from the pension provisions involved in the charter amendment.

Jesse Truitt maintained that there had been a vote and that it was legal. He said he would contact the town solicitor and get back to the citizen with verification.

“As soon as we get an answer, we’ll let you know,” said Councilwoman Pam Davis. “If we made a mistake, we will correct it.”

As a group, the opponents of the charter amendment placed much of the blame for the situation on Jesse Truitt, and they went on to question when the amendment would be officially adopted.

“My question is what happens next? If the General Assembly approves them, is it done and over with?” asked one concerned resident.

“No, the governor has to sign it, and the governor’s not signing,” answered another assuredly.

While the charter amendment still has a way to go before it would be approved and official, the council concluded that the topic — which was not listed on the agenda for the June 2 council meeting — be tabled once again and noted that they will answer looming questions after hearing back from their lawyer.

Another concern discussed was that three-minute time allotment at the beginning of the monthly council meetings for residents to voice questions — specifically regarding the town budget meetings, which could involve discussion of the proposed pension plan for Town employees.

“How can one person get the opportunity to address all their questions when you’re restricting them to three minutes and one line item can take three minutes?” asked one resident, expressing her discontent with the rule.

Jesse Truitt said there wasn’t time for every to citizen ask a question about every line on the budget, but Terry Truitt assured her that, if there was an issue that required more time to be explained, the council would not just disregard it.

“If it something that needs more time, I’m sure the council would be accommodating,” she asserted.

“One person can take that budget and present it to the council and get a definition what it is for both the current year and proposed year, for an explanation,” the same resident recapped, apparently satisfied with the answer.

Residents then brought up less pressing issues, such as concerns about business licenses for future contracting projects for the Town and sidewalk maintenance.

On Monday, June 23, at 7 p.m., the Town will hold a budget meeting regarding the upcoming fiscal year. Regular town council meetings are held on the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the meeting room of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall.