Mayor Ray Harper has proposed closing Eatonville’s Municipal Court and letting the city of Bonney Lake turn his town’s wheels of justice.
Harper said the change would prevent the town from needing to pay for security improvements for the courtroom at Town Hall. Not having its own court would also save the town the expense of trials.
Eatonville is struggling with a deficit in its budget of more than $170,000, causing town officials to look for ways to reduce spending.
Officials haven’t revealed how much money might be saved by turning its court business over to Bonney Lake, or the amount it would pay for the service. But an ordinance calling for the new arrangement was introduced at a meeting Aug. 27 of the Town Council, which must approve the proposal for it to take effect.
Harper said the ordinance, which could take effect as soon as Sept. 30 if approved, will be back before the council this month for a possible decision.
The town tried last spring to change its court system by sending its traffic citations and other misdemeanor cases to Pierce County District Court in Tacoma. That proposal was tied to Harper’s plan to disband the Eatonville Police Department and contract with the county Sheriff Department for police protection.
Both proposals were rejected by the council in April. Working against them was the county’s request that all fines from traffic citations in Eatonville would go to the county and none to the town.
Harper said the proposed court contract with Bonney Lake would keep payments of fines in Eatonville.
Bonney Lake, where defendants would have to go for any court appearances, is about 31 miles from Eatonville.