Mike Grubermann represented the TDA (Tourism Development Authority) at the aldermen meeting to ask the board’s approval to appoint Matt Bateman to fill the vacancy on the TDA board. After Mayor Joe Collins opened the issue for discussion to the board, Aldermen Bob Scott interjected to reaffirm his skepticism toward the TDA, which he previously addressed during September’s board meeting. “I think we need to clarify the relationship of the TDA with the town board,” noted Scott. He continued by suggesting that until reservations regarding the TDA are satisfied, any decisions regarding the TDA should be tabled and held off until a later date.
Scott’s suggestion was directly related to the agenda item regarding filling the TDA board vacancy. “I need to intervene here to express my concerns,” stated Scott. “It is not against Mr. Bateman by any means, I do not know Mr. Bateman. But I have concerns about the TDA and its operations.” Scott continued by recognizing that although the TDA is an authority, it is a public authority which makes it a “child” of the Town of Franklin. “The TDA is subject to the open meetings and public record laws,” explained Scott. “My interest in this got up when I found out they did a vote by email, which is against the open meeting law, and that they were meeting in restaurants.”
According to Scott, other members of the community expressed their interest in serving on the TDA and in filling the vacant positions, but their names were never forwarded to the town board. “We have a little bit of a conflict here because the board has gone on record as saying this board would make all appointments to boards, authorities and commissions to regualte the ordinances being set forth, the TDA is a little bit different,” noted Scott. “As a matter fact, the ordinances setting forth the TDA are full of contradictions.” Scott went on to cite that the TDA has failed to submit the quarterly or annual reports that they are bound by law (Senate Bill 1060) to submit to the town.
Due to the ongoing uncertainty of the TDA’s role and operational procedures within Franklin, Scott suggested that it may be beneficial to look into a future merger of the TDA and the TDC (Tourism Development Commission).
Mayor Joe Collins asked Scott what the TDA business currently on the agenda had to do with Scott’s suggestion to halt further discussion of the authority altogether, to which Scott replied, “At some point we are going to have to face these issues. I have expressed my concerns about the TDA for probably some three months, and I am not sure that any of the board is serious about it.”
When Scott addressed similar concern during the September board meeting, Collins agreed that a review of TDA operations was imminent, but not at that particular meeting. “I don’t doubt that it’s coming in the near future that we’re going to need to have a discussion about the TDA. I think I feel it’s brewing, but it’s not here tonight and whatever decisions that we make and how we handle our limited budget should not be contingent upon what we believe should be kicked in, matched or otherwise brought in by the TDA— there’s going to be a day for this.” During September’s meeting, the aldermen finished discussing the items on the agenda, but failed to establish further opportunity for the board to examine the TDA. Monday night’s meeting received the same attitude from the board members, and also failed to address Scott’s concerns.
Mayor Collins once again noted that the TDA should be subject to future review. “It is no secret, and you [Scott] may very well be grounded in your desire to take a look at the TDA to see where they are at right now and what needs to be corrected,” explained Collins. “I certainly have some areas, myself, that I believe, that I hope the TDA could improve in and I believe they are going in that right directions.” Collins continued by once again stating that for all intents and purposes Scott’s concern was not timely to the items on the agenda and should not postpone the decision on voting whether or not to appoint Bateman to the TDA’s board.
Alderman Carolyn Pattillo commented that when she and Alderman Joyce Handley were charged with finding members for the TDA when it was first established, it took more than a month and was a rather difficult process, and instead of starting over, the board should allow the TDA to continue operations and make procedural corrections as the town sees fits.
Scott reemphasized his objection to the matter by restating that he personally was aware of two individuals who approached the TDA who were interested in filling the vacancies. Mayor Collins interjected and redirected the discussion to focusing on the vote regarding the appointment of Matt Bateman.
The board voted 6-1 to appoint Bateman to the TDA, with Scott in opposition.