While the Franklinton Mayor and Board of Aldermen addressed routine matters (see below “In other business), the lengthy meeting was plagued with controversy. There were disputes between the Mayor and some of the Aldermen, disputes between some of the Aldermen, a dispute between the Mayor and a member of the public, harsh criticisms from the Public of some of the Aldermen, a venture into politics of the 2024 Mayor and Aldermen election, and more drama.
The first dispute (beginning at about 43:30 into the video) concerned an ordinance setting the fees to use the electric car charging stations. At issue was ADA compliance. After over 12 minutes of discussion, the ordinance failed.
Consideration of a reduced bid for park equipment was presented (beginning at about 57:00 into the meeting). Another lengthy and heated discussion followed with disputes about adequacy of the process and whether or not a previous contract was rejected. The proposed park is to be located on 21 acres on Chess Jones Road with funding from the State, private donations, and from the Town in the amount of $179,699.00. During Public Participation later, several verbally attacked some of the Aldermen for their stance on the issue. In the end, no action was taken.
During Public Participation (beginning at about 1:40:00 into the meeting), initially, one legitimate traffic issue was brought forward. However, most of the next several minutes was devoted to verbal attacks on some of the Aldermen. One member of the public asked about who might be running for office in the 2024 Mayor and Aldermen. Alderman Darwin Sharp confirmed that he would be a candidate for Mayor. Mayor Route also confirmed that he would be a candidate for reelection.
Aldermen provided additional comments (beginning at about 1:58:00 into the video).
Mayor Route provided additional comments (beginning at about 2:23:00 into the video). The Mayor addressed one person in the public who had written a Letter to the Editor that was published in the Era-Leader Newspaper. The Mayor stated that the person had his facts wrong and an exchange followed.
In other business,
- the Board heard a report from Washington Parish School System Superintendent Francis Varnado
- the Board heard an update on the Town's health insurance
- the Board discussed the bid for the Medical District Water System Improvement Project, mainly funded by Delta Regional Authority. The Board tabled the matter, not accepting or rejecting the bids, due to complications regarding rising costs. Additional funds will be requested of approximately $150,000.00
- the Board awarded the contract for replacing the air conditioning and heating system in the courtroom to the Bogalusa firm of Carney Air Conditioning and Heating in the amount of $34,950.00
- the Board voted to change the employment status of Bennie Spears to full-time firemen
- the Board approved the 2024 holiday schedule
- the Board introduced an ordinance governing the participation in open meetings by those with ADA-recognized disabilities (a Public Hearing and vote on the ordinance will be held at the next meeting)
- the Board authorized the Mayor to sign an engagement letter with LaPorte APAC for the 2022-23 compilation
- the Board authorized the Mayor to sign an engagement letter with Kushner Lagraize LLC for the 2023-24 audit
- the Board authorized the Mayor to sign an engagement letter with Kushner Lagraize LLC for the 2023-24 SAUPs
- the Board authorized the Mayor to sign the Louisiana Compilation Questionnaire for the 2022-23 audit
- the Board approved the appointments of Darwin Sharp, Mike McNeil, and Marty Roberts to the Airport Advisory Committee
- the Board voted to cancel the 12/26/2023 meeting
- the Board heard reports from the Public Works Department (beginning about 1:16:00 into the video), the Police Department (beginning at about 1:24:00 into the video), the Fire Department (beginning at about 1:33:00 into the video), and the Municipal Clerk (beginning at about 1:35:30).