TUMWATER, WA - Thurston County District Court and the City of Tumwater have reached agreement for provision of municipal court services for the City. The recently approved agreement was reached after about a year of discussion. Under the agreement, District Court will handle all misdemeanor cases and those infractions that require investigation and mitigation. Other, minor, infractions will still be taken care of by Tumwater.-30-
Presiding District Court Judge Brett Buckley says, "The provision of criminal justice services for the citizens of Tumwater will seamlessly blend with the current duties of District Court. This can be accomplished because of the participation of the Thurston County Prosecutor's Office and the Office of Assigned Counsel."
Tumwater officials say the year of study and discussion lead to the best service model for municipal court services and the most economical solution for court customers. The contract allows for improved security, increased staffing and efficiency, improved prosecution and public defense, access to the County's therapeutic courts, and access to video arraignment.
Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet stated, "We'd like to thank Thurston County for their partnership to provide municipal court services. While this will cost Tumwater more upfront, it will save us money in the long run and improve the delivery of other services at City Hall." The change will save the City the cost of additional judicial and clerk time, acquisition of additional space, and creation of court holding cells.
Based on current cases, City staff calculated $167,000 in savings to taxpayers by contracting court services, compared to the cost to implement the changes necessary to meet the minimum standards for facility safety, public defense services, and staffing. The cost of contracted services is proportional to the volume and type of cases heard in District Court. Monies and fees collected through the court system will help pay for the contracted services.
"This municipal court partnership will improve safety at City Hall, and reduce the need to transport and hold prisoners. It also allows our community to take advantage of the array of innovative court services offered by Thurston County such as Veteran's Court and Drug Court." said Tumwater Councilmember Ed Hildreth, Public Safety Committee Chair.