City, county to share cost of new deputy

Published 6:03 pm Friday, July 5, 2019


The city of Franklin will be on the hook for funding roughly 32 percent of the salary for a new deputy position at the Southampton County Courthouse — but not until about two years from now.

City Manager Amanda Jarratt informed Franklin’s City Council on Monday, June 24 of a letter Southampton County Sheriff Jack Stutts sent to County Administrator Mike Johnson this month, which states that the sheriff plans to add a full-time, armed court security deputy, as well as another part-time screener in the courthouse foyer when court is in session and during courthouse staff working hours. Southampton County’s Board of Supervisors voted on Monday to approve Stutts’ request for additional personnel.

Deputy County Administrator Lynette Lowe confirmed later that week that the county’s intention is to hire the full-time deputy and additional part-time screener as soon as possible on or after July 1, which is the beginning date for the county’s fiscal year 2019-2020.

According to Stutts’ letter, an additional General District Court day is being added at the Southampton County Courthouse in the near future, and as such, the security duties required of the Sheriff’s Office for this additional day, “coupled with civil process service by the same staff members prevent my being able to protect the courthouse as described with existing staff.”

The sheriff added that the part-time screeners currently employed to work in the courthouse foyer are not sworn positions, and therefore, are not armed. The Southampton County Courthouse and Franklin’s Combined Courts building, he said, are the only courts in Virginia’s 5th Judicial Circuit without continuous armed staff positioned at courthouse entrances. According to the agenda for Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the new full-time deputy would rotate with existing court security staff in assuring the presence of an armed officer in the courthouse foyer at all times that the facility is open to the public.

Stutts, via an email to The Tidewater News recently, confirmed that the full-time deputy would only be for the Southampton County Courthouse, and not for Franklin’s Combined Courts building.

Lowe confirmed that the projected cost, including benefits, for the new full-time deputy would be between $48,532 and $69,736, and that this cost would come from county and city funds. The Board of Supervisors agenda states that like other courthouse-related expenses, the cost of this position would be shared by the city and county on a proportional population basis, with the county paying 68 percent and the city paying 32 percent. The cost of the additional part-time screener, Lowe said, is estimated at $10,748 including FICA and Medicare taxes, based on a schedule of 16 hours per week for a full year. The cost for the screener, however, would not be borne by the city, but rather would be funded with the courthouse security fees charged and remitted to Southampton County. The city, she said, would not see any request for payment from the county for the full-time position until fiscal year 2022.

“There is always a lag in billing due to the fact that we wait until the fiscal year closes and we have a completed audit prior to billing the City of Franklin for shared Constitutional Officers and for Courthouse maintenance costs,” Lowe explained. “Therefore the County’s audit of FY 2020 would be completed by November of 2020 and within the first months of 2021, a spreadsheet would be compiled and a letter sent to the City Manager advising the number the city would need to put in its FY 2022 budget in order to be able to reimburse Southampton County.”