For weeks, night after night, well past midnight and into the early morning hours, we found the lights on and nobody home at East City Hall Avenue in Norfolk. The cost of keeping the building lit up like a Christmas tree around the clock; 30 thousand dollars a month. The cost of an oversight in a city contract: 10 times as much. And you paid for it!
The city says the aging building that houses the School Administration Offices, the Commonwealth's Attorney and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts has some issues. Monroe Lentz, the Assistant Facilities Manager for the city of Norfolk showed us the rooms on each floor where the elextrical boxes are. "Computers will be off the 115 residential type service while this 227 high voltage is just lighting," Lentz said.
In the past, private security guards hired by the city were required to turn out the lights each night by throwing the circuit breakers. But we learned back in 2004 the city inadvertently left that 'important language' out of a new contract with the security company. And so for years, day and night the lights stayed on. Bob Batcher of the city or Norfolk admited it was a simple mistake on the city's part, "There was some language that appeared to be innocent language that got dropped, and the consequence of that, thanks to you bringing it to our attention, it is being fixed."
Batcher told us part of the fix has been to re-write the security contract. Guards have been instructed to each night at 9 pm to hit the lights as they make their rounds. Boxes, ladders and other clutter the city says had been blocking access to electrical boxes and circuit breakers throughout the building has been removed.
We're told the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office has asked that guards not turn off the power on their floors each night, concerned, they say, about the added wear and tear it would place on their aging computers.
And city says having to hit breakers each night to turn off the lights on the building points out the facility is not equipped to handle 21st century technology.
We're told the lights will be out tonight and we'll be checking.