Gretna police want new digs for clerk of court

Gretna police are looking for new digs for the city’s Clerk of Court’s Office and want to borrow $389,000 for the purchase.

The Gretna City Council authorized police to seek state bond commission approval for the purchase of property from Jefferson Parish at 327 Huey P. Long Ave. in the city. Although Gretna isn’t issuing any bonds to make the purchase, it still needs the commission’s approval to incur the debt, Gretna Deputy Police Chief Anthony Christiana said.

Police are hoping to purchase the property to move the city’s Clerk of Court’s Office from its current location on Second Street because of problems that were revealed with that building during Hurricane Isaac, Christiana said. The clerk of court maintains records for cases tried in Gretna’s magistrate court, and there were leaks in the building that endangered some documents, he said.

“It was not conducive to us storing the delicate files and records that are in the Clerk of Court Office,” Christiana said.

The clerk’s office is run by Gretna’s Police Department, and the land purchase is being handled solely by city police.

Christiana said Gretna rents space in its current location and would use the current $3,000 monthly payments to pay off the debt for the new building. Police are also putting a $150,000 down payment on the new building, which is coming from fines collected through the city’s speed camera program.

The Clerk of Court’s Office collects fines and fees related to misdemeanor arrests, summons and citations. It also issues taxi cab permits and alcoholic beverage permits. It had a $1.3 million budget in fiscal year 2012-2013.

Gretna officials have seen a spike in the number of fines and fees collected through its municipal court after the city began operating city court during the day time as well as at night. Even with the move, actual court operations would remain in their current location.

Christiana said that as soon as the bond commission approves the debt, the Police Department will move forward with the deal. With the down payment and monthly payments, he expects the building will be paid for in about five to six years.