Franklin adopts new court fees

Published 7:34 pm Friday, August 16, 2019


Franklin’s City Council voted 6-1 on July 22 to add new fees to the court costs imposed on those whose cases are heard in the city’s Pretlow Street combined courts building.

A fee of $2 will now be assessed upon anyone who files a civil action (lawsuit) in Franklin’s General District Court or Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. This $2 fee will also apply for anyone convicted in a traffic or criminal case.

The city plans to use the revenue from the $2 fees, which would be restricted for the renovation and maintenance of its combined courts building. Conviction in a traffic or criminal case would also trigger an additional $10 fee, which would be restricted to funding courthouse security personnel.

The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office — as opposed to the Franklin Police Department — is tasked with providing security for Franklin’s courthouse. According to City Manager Amanda Jarratt, Franklin pays Southampton County about 30 percent of the SCSO’s operating costs. The money collected from the $10 fees would go toward this payment.

A $350 fee will also now be assessed upon anyone convicted of driving under the influence. The proceeds from the DUI fees, according to Jarratt, would be unrestricted in how they can be spent.

She confirmed that the three new fees became effective immediately following the Council’s vote. Jarratt added that the three new fees are in addition to the existing court costs that were already being applied to criminal and civil cases in Franklin.

The dissenting vote on the new court fees came from Councilman Greg McLemore, who claimed the new fees would “adversely affect a part of the population who seem to get more tickets.”

As for how much revenue the new fees are expected to bring to the city, Jarratt said that in 2018, there were 4,884 civil cases tried in Franklin. Had the new fees been in place last year, this total would have brought in $9,768. She then said there were a total of 18 DUI-related accidents in Franklin from June 2016 through June 2019. Assuming the drivers were convicted of DUIs in each of those cases, the new DUI fee, had it been in place at the time, would have brought in $6,300 over those three years.

The three fees will be added to the City Code under sections 19-73, 19-74 and 17-60, respectively.