The Franklin Tourism Development Authority convened a meeting on Monday, September 14, 2015 without a quorum present. A quorum is defined as five members in their Rules of Procedures. The board has eight seats, two of which are vacant. Chairman Candy Pressley was absent and member Josh Drake did not arrive until just after the 35 minute mark in the video. Before his arrival, the board amended their agenda to add a representative from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine for a presentation. The board voted 4-0 to spend up to $3,000 to subsidize ads for local businesses in the November 2015 issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. Since a quorum was not present for this vote, the vote was not valid and will have to be re-voted on at another meeting that has a quorum present.
The board heard a proposal from Rob Gasparo for the Franklin TDA to sudsidize the Macon county Transit to run a shuttle service for hikers to use to come into Franklin. He said it would cost $6,750 to run the shuttle twice a day from February to May. The county commissioners voted earlier this year to not fund a shuttle, citing they would prefer not to interfere with local businesses and individuals who already transport hikers to and from the trail. Gasparo said that regardless of whether or not they found funding from the TDA or TDC, he would seek frunding from private sources to pay Macon County Transit to run a service. He will be presenting the proposal to the Macon County TDA today (Sept 17th) at the noon meeting. Macon Media will be covering that meeting.
The board declined (5-0) to subsidize a coupon book for Major Display to be handed out to visiting ball teams at Parker Meadows promoting local businesses.
The board voted 5-0 to fund the Naturalist event being organbized by Outdoor 76.
The board also discussed a vacation guide, but I missed the disposition of that because I was researching the quorum question, and upon review of the video, the board members were speaking so low I still could not understand what they wee saying to one another. I apologize for that.
After the meeting had been adjourned, members of the board and representatives of press (Macon Media and The Franklin Press) discussed whether or not the board had a quorum present for the meeting. Town manager Summer Woodard reported a conversation she had with the board attorney, John Henning, Jr, who was of the opinion that four did constitute a quorum. I disagreed and referred to the Rules of Procedure for the board, which defines a quorum as five. I have embedded a copy of the section of the Rules of Procedure that define a quorum for your convenience. [FULL COPY]
The day after the meeting, the Town manager sent out a notice that a quorum is indeed five members and the vote that the board took will be ratified at the October meeting. I have included a copy of that as well.
From: John Henning [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 3:26 PM
To: Summer Woodard
Subject: Tourism Development Authority
Dear TDA Board Members,
I understand that at the beginning of your meeting yesterday, four of you were present. A majority of the members currently appointed to the TDA were present (four (4) out of the current membership of six (6)). Approximately 30 minutes after the meeting started, a fifth member joined the meeting. Since Section 5.5 of the TDA bylaws currently sets a quorum at five members, the TDA will need to take action to ratify any votes that were taken before five members were present. This bylaw appears to anticipate always having all nine (9) memberships filled, and unfortunately, the TDA Board only consists of six (6) members at this time.
At your October 12, 2015 board meeting, and assuming five members are present, the Board will need to reconsider the item(s) that were voted on while only four members were present. My understanding is that there was only one such item, to participate in publishing Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine, which will be recognizing the Town in an upcoming issue. Since that expenditure will come due sometime after November, the Board can ratify that vote and there will be no other problem with making that approved expenditure.
By and large, this is a problem caused by the language setting the quorum at five members, which seems to be based on the assumption that all nine members will be appointed at any given time. Despite the Town’s best efforts – including web and print advertising – to find persons willing to serve on the TDA Board, your current membership totals six. That makes this an appropriate time to say a heartfelt thank you to each of you for your willingness to serve on the TDA Board. Your time is very much appreciated. And if any of you knows anyone who might also be willing to serve, please ask them to get in touch with Candy Arvey or Summer Woodard about joining the Board.
Finally, and keeping in mind that the Town greatly appreciates your time and willingness to serve, please make every effort to attend the October board meeting.
In the near future, we will also look at amending the quorum bylaw, to avoid this difficulty in the future.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns.
John F. Henning, Jr.
Even though my research is not needed, I am posting it anyway for future reference.
Here is an excerpt from an article on the UNC School of Governemnt website:
"...the first step in identifying the quorum for a committee or appointed board will usually be to find out whether the governing board has adopted a rule imposing a method of quorum calculation."
"Simply saying that a quorum is a majority of a body’s members or membership doesn’t explain how vacancies should be treated in a quorum calculation. For city and county governing boards, this issue is addressed by statute. Pursuant to G.S. 160A-74, vacant seats aren’t counted in quorum determinations for city councils. The opposite is true for boards of county commissioners: G.S. 153A-43 provides that the number of commissioners required for a quorum “is not affected by vacancies.” The blog post by Frayda Bluestein linked to above explains in detail how these rules work.
Local governing boards generally have the power to decide whether vacancies must be included in quorum calculations for their committees and appointed boards. (Sometimes those bodies are permitted to adopt their own procedural rules. In those situations, the committee or board itself may specify whether a quorum is a majority of total seats or of current members.) It often happens, though, that local rules don’t address the effect of vacancies on the quorum for committees or appointed boards."
Source >> "Quorum Calculations: The Impact of Vacancies and Members Who Don’t Vote" by Trey Allen, UNC School of Government
Franklin TDA Rules of Procedure
NC General Assembly law that created the Franklin TDA
Franklin Town board of Aldermen Occupancy Tax Resolution
ROLL CALL FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY
Josh Drake (arrived after 6 pm)
Macon Media (me)
The franklin Press
Macon County News and Shopping Guide
The TDA Board will meet again in the lower level of town hall on Monday, October 12th at 5:30 pm.