Frankford town council opts for state police coverage

FRANKFORD — Town of Frankford officials are moving forward with plans to seek police coverage from Delaware State Police.

“We’re going to initially approach them with 12 hours a week and see how that works out for like the first year or whatever,” said Frankford councilman Marty Presley, the council’s treasurer.

At the quoted $86-per-hour rate, that would be $1,032 a week; $53,664 a year for contracted state police coverage, Mr. Presley said.

Following council’s decision at the Nov. 6 meeting, council president Joanne Bacon was to contact state police, Mr. Presley said.

The state police option comes as council is in the preliminary stage of exploring the possibility and feasibility of creating and filling a town manager position.

Frankford’s current budget includes $77,000 for police department for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, 2017. In late July, Mark Hudson resigned from the chief’s position. At that time he was the only member of the Frankford police force.

Town council subsequently rejected Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey’s proposal for unification of the two departments under single leadership. The cost, which was about $121,000, was the basis for Frankford council’s rejection.

“We’d like to have been able to do the thing with Dagsboro, but it was too costly. So, we had to sit back and recalculate,” said Frankford councilman Edward “Skip” Ash. “We think the best thing we can do is get a town manager and pay for state police.”

Twelve hours of contracted weekly coverage would augment already existing state police presence in the tiny southern Sussex County town that has less than 1,000 residents.

Frankford officials recently heard from representatives from the town of Millville, which contracts with state police for coverage.

“As I understand it from Millville, they are guaranteed to ride through the neighborhood once a day,” said Mr. Presley. “I think it is more or less what we ask them to do. Since I think we have 16 streets in town it wouldn’t take long to ride down 16 streets. We’d be primarily looking for them to do some traffic control.”

“We have that money for that,” said Mr. Ash. “So really it’s just a matter of sitting down with the state police and setting up a contract so that we have our time. I would almost say by December we should be moving with having a 12-hour schedule a week for the state police.”

 Town manager

Initial plans are to have some committee meetings and come up with parameters for the job and what the town is looking for.

Frankford has never had an official town manager.

“We have kicked it around for the past couple years. We want to take a look at it to see if it’s viable,” said Mr. Presley. “I think it’s just the realization that if we don’t have somebody fulltime actively engaged in managing the town and trying to improve the town then maybe we need to take a look at that again and see if that would make economic sense — and see if it would actually pay for itself.”

Councilman Greg Welch, noting the town is presently “scrapping for money,” is hopeful a qualified person in such a position could bring in resources, via grants and development.

“Exactly,” echoed Mr. Presley, adding Frankford presently has no real representation at such things as county, legislative or DelDOT meetings. “We just don’t have anybody actively pursuing grants. We’re only getting stuff that basically falls in our lap right now.”

It would be somebody “actively being engaged and trying to get some development coming to town to expand the tax base,” Mr. Presley said.

“We are really looking to get a town manager to bring growth,” said Mr. Ash. “We need somebody that can bring business to us and start up some of these projects and get them moving, where we tie up too much of our time with ourselves. We just need a manager to bring growth to our place like what happened to Millsboro and some of these other towns. With that we will have an avenue to afford police of our own and keep going with it that way.”

If feasible, Mr. Presley hopes the town manager issue can be a budgetary item for next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2018. It will be four, five or possibly six months before the town is actually engaged to interview people, he said.

“What we will be doing between now and then is we’ll have some meetings and come up with a job description … to see if that type of candidate is actually out there for what we could afford to pay them,” said Mr. Presley.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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