subscriber exclusive

Buckeye Council tables court fee changes

Posted

Consent agenda items aren’t usually the topics of long city council discussions.

Tuesday night, the Buckeye City Council held a lengthy discussion about just such an item.

Councilor Patrick HagEstad asked if an item could be pulled from the consent agenda for discussion. After he and others asked several questions, mostly directed toward Municipal Court Judge John Burkholder, Mayor Eric Orsborn suggested a proposed increase in the court enhancement fee be postponed.

The proposed change in the fee would be to not only increase it from $10 to $20, but also to impose it per charge rather than the current system of a per-case basis. In other words, a person guilty of three municipal charges would pay $60, rather than only $10 for a three-charge case number.

HagEstad asked if the change were proposed out of a financial need.

“There’s two reasons to do this,” Burkholder said. “There’s truth in sentencing, in that we could list the $20 on the front end, on a bond card, rather than at the end, and to provide us with ‘rainy day’ funds for things like security features.”

Burkholder said there is $313,000 in the city’s current court enhancement fee fund.

“We annually take a look at extra fees, such as warrant and default fees, to make sure we are in line with the rest of the region,” Burkholder said. “It keeps inequities from happening. Glendale just raised theirs to $35.”

HagEstad said he was trying to find a reason why it’s a fair increase to impose.

“Should we raise it, just because we can?” HagEstad asked. “This would really change what an individual in our court is charged. I’m concerned this is going to add a lot of cost to our residents.”

Burkholder said the court enhancement fund could be used for mid-range expenses, such as a down payment on a new building.

If council were reluctant to make both the fee amount and per-charge increases at the same time, Burkholder said he would prefer the city leave the fee at $10, but to allow assessing the fee as per charge, rather than per case.

Orsborn asked Burkholder if there were anything time sensitive about the proposal.

“We’re doing math from the dais, and that’s never good,” Orsborn said, smiling.

The judge said there is nothing time sensitive about the proposal.

HagEstad moved to postpone the proposed change to the Council’s Feb. 1 meeting. The postponement was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Councilors Tony Youngker and Clay Goodman opposing it.

The rest of the consent agenda was approved unanimously. The council also held a lengthy discussion before approving seven new full-time positions and funding them through June 30 by a 6-1 vote; this item will be discussed in detail in an upcoming story.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here