By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – The village is in the process of forming a joint municipal court with two towns in Oconto County.
The Suamico village board voted 6-1 Monday, Aug. 19, to direct village staff and Village Attorney Corey Kimps to draft an ordinance that would establish a joint municipal court between the Village of Suamico, Town of Chase and Town of Little Suamico.
Trustee Michelle Eckert cast the lone dissenting vote.
Suamico Municipal Judge Kevin Rathburn and Court Clerk Leanne Tomaschefsky appeared before the board to present the idea of a joint municipal court.
Rathburn said municipal court would continue to be held in the village’s municipal services center upon the two towns joining with the expectation Suamico won’t incur more expenses than revenue generated.
“From our perspective, the money would be collected here, just as if (those paying the fines) were committing the offense in Suamico,” he said. “Then we have to pay out to the municipality from whom the citation came. We have to pay that money out based on state statute, so they would get money, but then we would send them a bill, based on the number of citations we had and what they owe us on the agreement we have.”
As presently proposed, Rathburn said the village would receive $53 for each citation when factoring in a $20 service fee.
Rathburn said he doesn’t know at this point how many additional citations the municipal court would handle by adding the two towns, but that may be one thing to look at in the future.
“I’m not really here about the money,” he said. “I do what I do because it’s the right thing to do, and I let the money take care of itself.”
Rathburn said having a municipal court in Suamico has worked out well financially the past 14 years.
“I would take the same approach here (with the joint municipal court),” he said. “I would continue to do what I think is right. I think we would be able to see at the end that we’re receiving enough in the citations that we’re processing, because there is a processing fee…”
Rathburn said all three municipalities would have to pass an ordinance to form the joint municipal court, which could be subsequently dissolved by either one of the parties.
Currently, Rathburn said Chase and Little Suamico, which don’t have the infrastructure to create a municipal court of their own, send all their citations to Oconto County and cannot collect any revenue from the citations issued to offset their enforcement costs.
Though the two towns are in a different county than Suamico, Rathburn said that wouldn’t prevent a joint municipal court from being formed by ordinance.
Upon the joint municipal court forming, which Rathburn said he doesn’t expect to happen until Jan. 1, 2020, if not later, the municipal judge would have to run in all three municipalities when the current term expires in April 2023.
Costs and fees
According to a memo provided to the board, the costs and fees to have a joint municipal court would be as follows:
• The towns shall pay the initial software (TiPPS) setup fee ($ 1,312) and an annual maintenance fee ($789).
• The towns will pay the village a fee of $20 per citation and an additional $30 for those that go to trial. The court will retain the $33 court cost portion of each fine.
• The village shall collect all forfeitures and disburse funds to the appropriate parties at the end of the month as per state statue. A copy of the monthly financial statement will be provided to each town.
• The village will send a monthly invoice to each town identifying the citations and the amount they owe the court.
• The prosecutor will bill the towns individually for services provided.