County commissioners on Tuesday morning at their regular meeting sent word, sternly, that now is the time for Franklin’s Promise Coalition to sign a contract presented them in early July that outlines specifics related to their work as a support organization to the county’s emergency management office.
The commissioners did not act on a recommendation to set an August 10 deadline, proposed by County Attorney Michael Shuler, for Franklin’s Promise to sign the contract. But they did indicate that their patience was beginning to run out.
“When it’s all said and done, Franklin’s Promise is under the structure of the county commission,” said Chairman Smokey Parrish, in extended remarks on the subject. “We have a duty as a board to make sure everything flows properly.”
Technically known as an ESF (Emergency Support Function) 15 contract, the document stipulates that all monetary donations, retroactive to June 24, received by Franklin’s Promise for the Lime Rock Road wildfire be deposited in a separate bank account, with the county having permanent unlimited access to the account.
All of Franklin’s Promise’s records related to being an ESF 15 would have to be made public, receipts would all have to be carefully kept and maintained for donations and transactions, and no administrative fees or costs of any kind could be deducted from the donations, among its many provisions. All the monies donated to the county, which has so far been about $300,000, would have to go to wildfire recovery, and all would be subject to audit.
Parrish stressed that everything that emergency management does, as well as Franklin’s Promise’s work as an ESF 15, is under the umbrella of the county commission. About $30,000 to $40,000 has so far been spent from these donations.
“This is the way it has to work because we are being held accountable,” he said. “We are responsible for everything under the emergency management office.
“It (signing the contract) needs to be done and it needs to be done prudently,” Parrish said. “We are being held accountable by the public.”
Parrish said that he knows of at least one individual who plans to issue a donation once the contract is signed. “I haven’t authorized the man to write the check,” he said. “There’s more monies out there that could be handed over.
“The board isn’t being respected. You just have to do the right thing,” Parrish said.
The chairman made a point of stressing that he is not alleging any wrongdoing, only foot-dragging.
“I think the money is being spent wisely what has been spent,” said Parrish. “It’s not that we’re saying someone is misusing or misappropriating funds, absolutely not.”
Tress Dameron, emergency management coordinator, who appeared at the meeting together with Jennifer Daniels, special needs coordinator, said some of Franklin’s Promise’s board members have been out of town this summer, and that may have contributed to the delay. Emergency Management Director Pam Brownell was absent due to a medical procedure.
Commissioners Noah Lockley and Cheryl Sanders issued somewhat stronger statements of irritation with the delay.
“This is business, we run a business, and we’re over y’all,” said Lockley. “Y’all hooked up with Franklin’s Promise. They can hit the road; we can’t let the volunteers take over.”
Sanders praised the volunteer work, but echoed Lockley’s impatience.
“Why is there a problem?” she said. “One hundred percent of the money is going to go to the people. We are responsible to the people and they’re going to look to us where the money’s being spent.
“We have to have (emergency management) as a team,” she said. “If they (Franklin’s Promise) is not willing to do what the board feels needs to have done, and we need the ESF 15 in storms and all kinds of emergencies, then we may have to go down (another) road if they cannot agree to sign it.
“They have done good work, I want them to understand what our proposition is,” Sanders said. “They need to come off and either sign it or go on about their business.”