Franklin works to transfer title of WTCSB building

Published 3:01 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

The Franklin City Council voted unanimously Monday evening, Dec. 11, to authorize the work needed to transfer the title of the Western Tidewater Community Services Board building at 5268 Godwin Blvd. in Suffolk from the City of Franklin Industrial Development Authority to the WTCSB.

Franklin City Manager Amanda C. Jarratt introduced the topic of the title transfer by first highlighting what the WTCSB does.

“They provide a variety of mental health services and other services to not only the city of Franklin but Franklin City Public Schools, and they serve the region that includes the city of Suffolk, city of Franklin, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County,” she said.

As previously reported by Suffolk News-Herald Staff Writer James W. Robinson, alongside providing services to both children and adults as well as services for substance abuse and crisis sufferers, WTCSB offers same-day access and intellectual and developmental disability services for residents in need. Likewise, the authority recently launched its Region 5 Crisis Receiving Center, an urgent behavioral health care program at the authority’s Chuckatuck office at 5268 Godwin Blvd.

Jarratt noted that years ago, the WTCSB built that facility at 5268 Godwin Blvd. and utilized the Franklin IDA as the financial conduit.

To help explain the arrangement, she cited an example that veteran Franklin City Council members might be familiar with: The Village at Woods Edge in Franklin utilized the Franklin IDA as a financial conduit to obtain tax-exempt bonds.

“So this is a similar situation in that the city of Franklin expended no funds for the construction of this real estate,” she said. “We really were only the financial conduit. So it’s very similar to when we act as a fiscal agent for an agency, such as The Children’s Center.”

She explained that in the arrangement with the WTCSB, there were no Franklin city expenses, there was no city obligation, there was no commitment to pay or issue this debt that was associated with the real estate.

“However, on the paperwork, the City of Franklin Industrial Development Authority is listed as the owner,” she said. “No one at the staff was here at the city or there that was a party to this, and so it’s been a problem for them in obtaining permits and going through a rezoning for recent expansion.”

Jarratt was bringing the situation before the Franklin City Council to fulfill a documented commitment that the city of Franklin had made to the WTCSB and also to help resolve an issue that was causing a problem for the WTCSB, a valued community partner.

“The (bonds) have been paid off, and the documents that were signed were very clear that once the financial transaction from their end was completed, the title would be transferred to the Western Tidewater Community Services Board,” she said.

She noted that the Franklin IDA will have to meet and act on this.

“They will be the main signatory to the transaction,” she said to council members. “There may be a document that I’m required to sign, and so we wanted to bring this to your attention and receive authorization from you for us to work with legal counsel to get this cleaned up.

“And so what would happen is, you would authorize me to sign any necessary paperwork if that should arise,” she continued. “But we will be scheduling a meeting with the City of Franklin Industrial Development Authority for them to act and sign all the necessary legal documents.”

Franklin Mayor Robert “Bobby” Cutchins asked Jarratt if she needed authorization in the form of a motion.

“Yes, sir,” she said. “And I may not, as the manager, have to sign any documents, but we wanted to, one, bring this to your attention, and then (two), go ahead and get that authorization should we have to. Due to the holidays, the IDA will probably meet in January just due to everyone’s travel schedule. 

“But (the WTCSB is) a great community partner, and we’d like to get this taken care of for them,” she added.

Vice Mayor and Ward 5 Councilwoman Wynndolyn H. Copeland made the motion, it was seconded, and when Cutchins asked for any further discussion, Ward 2 Councilman Ray Smith asked for confirmation that this title transfer was in reference to just one building, and Jarratt confirmed this.