Clearfield justice court wants to recertify

Oct 9 2011 - 11:15pm

CLEARFIELD -- Although cases and revenue are down for the justice court, the city is moving forward with the recertification process.

City Attorney Brian Brower said the court averaged 521 cases per month last year. A Division One justice court, which is what Clearfield currently is, is required to average at least 500 cases a month.

"The number of cases has been declining every year," Brower said. "It's something that we are going to take a look at."

He said City Manager Adam Lenhard is investigating the reason for the decline in revenue and cases. Revenue for the last fiscal year was in the $800,000 range, down from $1.1 million three years ago.

"This is something we are taking a look at," Brower said. "If there is less crime, then that is a good thing."

But the decline could be because people are paying their fines later or because the police department has not always been fully staffed. He explained that during the past few years, there has not been rapid replacement of officers who leave positions.

"We have tried to maintain a balanced budget with declining revenues," Brower added.

That could have resulted in fewer citations being issued. No matter the reason, Brower said, if warranted, action will be taken to turn the situation around.

This information about declining revenue and cases was discovered as the city took steps to recertify its Justice Court, which expires in February 2012.

State law requires the city to recertify its Justice Court every four years. Part of that process includes a resolution of support from the sponsoring government entity.

To that end, the city staff compiled a report of opinion regarding recertification for the city council. The report details findings that the requirements of the court were met.

For now, it states, it is feasible for the city to continue to maintain its court. However, the report noted that the number of case filings and the revenue from fines and forfeitures continue to decline annually.

The city council unanimously approved a request to the Justice Court Standards Committee to recertify the Justice Court.

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