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City examining court contract with Holladay

Apr 03, 2018 03:33PM ● Published by Cassie Goff

Cottonwood Heights and Holladay share a justice court as of July 2010. Renegotiations of that contract are ongoing. (City of Cottonwood Heights)

By Cassie Goff | cassie@mycityjournals.com

The cities of Cottonwood Heights and Holladay currently share a contract for justice court services. In fall of 2017, Holladay asked to renegotiate the contract with Cottonwood Heights, since the original contract was agreed upon in 2010. Over the past few months, negotiations were ongoing.

As reported from June 19, 2017, the major reason for Holladay to renegotiate stems from a failing costs and revenue system. At the end of the budget year, Holladay will have a deficit in addition to the amount they owe Cottonwood Heights.

Holladay’s justice court receives revenue from Cottonwood Heights citations, Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake’s (UPD) citations in Holladay and the variable expenses from Cottonwood Heights presence in Holladay’s courts. Cottonwood Heights receives a difference from that revenue. “If the difference is less than $20,000, they give us $20,000 a month. However, there’s a downward trend,” said City Manager John Park.

On March 6, 2018, Cottonwood Heights discussed the partnership during their city council meeting.

Holladay had suggested that Cottonwood Heights help pay for operating costs. “They have agreed to maintain fixed costs, but more than half of the operating costs would be ours,” said Assistant Manager Bryce Haderlie.

Mayor Mike Peterson was almost floored. Cottonwood Heights went from receiving money to having to pay money in one fell swoop.

Budgetary items have become a struggle within the court system. “No court makes money,” said City Recorder Paula Melgar.

If Cottonwood Heights City were to pay into the court system, they would want more of a say. “We have asked for more input with this partnership,” said Haderlie. “We have asked for a say.”

This seems to be one of the main contentions in renegotiation.

They maintain they have the final say because the employees are theirs,” Haderlie said.

Since both cities held strong on some specific points in negotiation, they ended up questioning why they were still in a contract.

Cottonwood Heights has begun to consider other options.

“We have spoken with other cities. One of them does have capacity, they would be willing to talk to us,” Haderlie said. “We can’t just shut down a court.”

If Cottonwood Heights decided to leave, “we would have to give them significant notice, six months to one year,” said City Attorney Shane Topham. “It takes a long time to move courts.”

 “We can get out of the contract, which is our ultimate leverage,” Topham said. “The court wouldn’t be a thing without us.”

Police Chief Robby Russo estimates that Cottonwood Heights provides about 65 percent of the traffic to the courts.

Peterson asked Russo if he wanted to stay with the Holladay Court. He would need to work with his staff to determine which route they want to go.

“I don’t mean to paint Holladay Court as a bad court, they are a good court,” said Russo.

On Feb. 22, Holladay discussed the partnership during their city council meeting. Minutes from that meeting have not been published as of publication.

The original contract was adopted by both cities in July 2010 by the following resolutions:

Cottonwood Heights adopted Resolution 2010-39: Approving entry into an interlocal agreement with City of Holladay for justice court services on July 13, 2010. It approved justice court services through the Holladay Justice Court.

Holladay adopted Resolution 2010-17: Authorizing the mayor to execute a restated and amended agreement with Cottonwood Heights for Court Services on July 17, 2010.

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