City to buy metal detector for courts building

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Franklin’s City Council voted unanimously on Monday to authorize City Manager Amanda Jarratt to purchase a $4,000 walk-through metal detector for the foyer of the city’s combined courts building on Pretlow Street.

The lack of such a device had been one of several security concerns that four judges, who regularly hear cases in Franklin’s combined courts building, had brought to Jarratt’s attention during their July 26 meeting with the city manager. The purpose of this meeting, which had been held in the city of Suffolk’s courthouse, had been to discuss what improvements and/or renovations would need to be made to Franklin’s courts building to bring it into compliance with the Supreme Court of Virginia’s guidelines for courthouse design and security.

According to Jarratt, the metal detector that Franklin plans to purchase is the same model in use in the foyer of the Southampton County Courthouse.

“This shows good faith,” she said. “It shows us moving in the right direction to make our courthouse secure.”

Another concern that came out of her meeting with the judges had been the lack of an X-ray scanner at the Pretlow Street facility, which also would ideally be located in the building’s foyer. Jarratt said that as of Monday’s City Council meeting, she had not yet received pricing for such a scanner, and that this would need to be a separate purchase.

The city also still plans to send out a request for proposals for architectural services related to a renovation of the Pretlow Street courts building, pending the City Council’s discussion of the draft RFP, which is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 23. Part of this renovation may include adding a corridor from the building’s foyer to the clerk’s office, which has a separate entrance, thereby creating a single point of entry, Jarratt said. Another part may involve creating a gated parking area for judges and other court staff, separate from the main parking area.

Because the purchase of a walk-through metal detector had not been included in the city’s budget for fiscal year 2019-2020, the City Council passed a second motion that evening, also unanimously, to pull the $4,000 from the money it received from Isle of Wight County earlier this year.

A 1986 court-ordered revenue sharing agreement between the city and county specifies that Franklin is to receive between 17 and 23 percent of all taxes the county collects from businesses and county residents residing within the area surrounding Carrsville Highway from the Blackwater River to the city’s airport. For the past several years, the county had paid Franklin about $720,000 annually, which equates to about 17.8 percent of the tax revenue from the aforementioned area. But, as reported in the Sunday, May 12, edition of The Tidewater News, this payment should have increased to about $900,000 or roughly 21.8 percent beginning in 2016. As such, the city was due an additional $512,000 from back payments, which the City Council had allocated at the time to the city’s unassigned general fund cash balance.