Frankford faces impending vacancy with JP Court consolidation

13 JP COURT 1 frankford glenn photo

In a consolidation effort, the state of Delaware has notified the town of Frankford it will not be re-newing its lease for the Justice of the Peace Court 1 on Main Street.

FRANKFORD – The town of Frankford faces an impending vacancy with notification that the state Justice of the Peace Court will vacate the building on Main Street at the end of this calendar year.

“We have got confirmation that the JP Court will not be renewing their lease,” Frankford councilman Marty Presley announced in his treasurer’s report at the April 4 council meeting. “We’ve got them until January at which point in time they will no longer be in the building. So the council needs to make a decision on what we are going to do.”

Options offered by Mr. Presley: secure another tenant or pursue a cost-benefit analysis and other possible functions of the brick building.

Justice of the Peace Court 1 presence in Frankford contributes a substantial amount of money to town coffers.

“This year in the budget we budgeted around $40,000 in income from the rental of that building. We got $20,000 in this year’s fiscal year, but as of January the council needs to make a decision,” said Mr. Presley. “We need to get on this. We also need to factor that into our budget.”

Delaware Justice of the Peace Court Administrator Marianne Kennedy said the state ledger shows an annual base rent of $44,000 for Court 1 in Frankford.

The decision to vacate banks on consolidation.

“The state is consolidating their operations,” said Mr. Presley.

“That is the reason,” said Ms. Kennedy. “We have had as many as 18 or more locations for the Justice of the Peace Court. We have made a number of attempts to consolidate quite honestly because we can’t afford to keep them open.”

“And quite honestly the Governor’s recommended budget for the third year in a row did not provide our court with any money to fund our lease increases. We’ve got a bunch of different leases across the state and three years later we have these obligations and we are not funded for it. So we have to take money from other places,” said Ms. Kennedy. “We just simply have to consolidate so that we can maintain our operations.”

Ms. Kennedy added that “our volume of case load is not that high in Frankford. And it is kind of hard to get there.”

Court 1 in Frankford is one of six JP Courts in Sussex County. It handles criminal (truancy) issues.

Court 1’s truancy calendar will be moved to JP Court 4 in Seaford, Ms. Kennedy said

Elimination of JP Court 1 will leave five courts at four Sussex locations: Court 4 in Seaford, Court 2 in Rehoboth, Court 14 in downtown Georgetown and Courts 3 and 17 based at the same location on the western side of Georgetown.

The state first entered into a lease with the town of Frankford in 2002. There have been several extensions.

“We extended and it will expire at the end of this year, Dec. 31, 2016,” said Ms. Kennedy.

Justice of the Peace Court has jurisdiction over civil cases in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $15,000. JP Courts are also authorized to hear certain misdemeanors and most motor vehicle cases (excluding felonies) and may act as committing magistrates for all crimes.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.