Sumner residents will soon notice a major change in the way their city is handling their municipal court. Instead of heading to the city’s court building on Maple Street, residents are going to head east, out of the valley, up the hill and into Bonney Lake.
Both city councils voted last week to begin negotiating how Bonney Lake and Sumner will handle their ends of a limited-service court agreement.
Jason Wilson, Sumner’s administration services director, said Sumner decided to contract out some of its court services because the city noticed the general fund subsidy to provide court services has been steadily increasing, and the city decided to cut those costs by contracting out some services to another city.
Wilson also said the city has been anticipating the sale of the Sumner Meadows Golf Course, but because the sale is taking longer than expected, the city now has a shortfall in its general fund budget.
Approximately $130,000 will be saved in 2016 and more than $150,000 in 2017, according to Wilson, and that money will help balance the budget.
“From a customer standpoint, we don’t think there is going to be any impact, other than going up the hill to Bonney Lake,” Wilson said. “But the financial impact does lower the general fund subsidies substantially.”
While Sumner is treating this exchange of services as a way to save a little cash, Bonney Lake City Administer Don Morrison said they’re just happy to help their sister city.
“We believe in interlocal cooperation,” Morrison said. “Sumner does our sewer treatment and our animal control. So if we can cover our costs, we can do something for them.”
This isn’t the first time Bonney Lake has taken on another city’s court services. Bonney Lake has done full court services for the cities of South Prairie and Eatonville, and that experience is part of what persuaded Sumner to contract with Bonney Lake, according to Wilson.
Even with the new Sumner workload, Morrison said Bonney Lake is not expecting to overhaul their own court system to manage the new work coming in.
The draft agreement
According to the draft interlocal agreement, Bonney Lake would provide the court room, court administrative staff and probation services. Bonney Lake would pay for all court security, provide and pay for all court forms and documents necessary for Sumner Municipal Court cases, and track court mandated payments and deliver these payments to Sumner on a monthly basis.
Sumner, on the other hand, would provide their own judge, city prosecutor and public defender. Sumner would file citations to Bonney Lake and alert Bonney Lake of warrants out of Sumner. Sumner would continue to be responsible for arranging jail space and costs, paying all witness and jury fees, transporting prisoners to and from Bonney Lake and archiving cases.
Sumner would also retain 100 percent of all local court revenues, which includes all fines, forfeited bail, penalties, court costs, recoupment and parking ticket payments.