If the Cedaredge Town Board adopts a resolution on Sept. 19 as expected, money to support the municipal court and police will come from mandatory charges totalling $50 levied against offenders.
The mandatory fees, discussed at a Sept. 12 work session, will be a $25 court cost assessment combined with another mandatory $25 surcharge that would go to the police department.
The mandatory fees would be established by town board resolution and not subject to waiver by the court, town officials said. The fees would not be assessed to defendants who are found to be not guilty, said town administrator Katie Sickles.
Currently, the town code allows the municipal judge to assess a discretionary court cost not to exceed $25, and a $10 police department surcharge. At present, both fees can be waived by the municipal judge, Sickles explained at the trustee work session.
"It costs us to provide these services," said Mayor Pat Means. "I'd like to see us not go in the hole financially."
Money from both fees will go into the town's general fund out of which the police department and court are funded. Town officials said the police department surcharge would be earmarked to buy safety equipment for the department and would not be used for department personnel costs.
One expense item with municipal court that Means said would be paid out of the mandatory court cost assessment is the service of a municipal court clerk. Sickles explained further, "No Cedaredge employee is hired with municipal court clerk as part of their duty. Instead, an employee who can serve as an objective participant in court proceedings is asked to add to their duties the municipal court proceedings and be responsible to acquire training in that role." The municipal court clerk is paid a "stipend of $150 monthly," she added.
Last month the town board approved raising the maximum fine that the municipal judge is allowed to assess from $1,000 to $2,650. The levy of fines in individual cases is left to the discretion of the judge and the town government has no role in it, Mayor Means noted.
Under Chief Robert Yant, the Cedaredge Police Department has followed a policy of writing more warnings than citations at motor vehicle stops. For example, in the department's most recent four months of activity reports, officers have logged 87 traffic stops. Of those, 80 warnings were written and seven resulted in citations being issued.blog comments powered by Disqus