News

Bainbridge, Poulsbo move closer to shared court

By JENNIFER MORRIS

North Kitsap Herald

POULSBO — The relocation of the Bainbridge Island municipal courts to Poulsbo’s new city hall is “looking quite positive,” said Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson.

Officials from both cities met Monday night, including Erickson and Bainbridge Mayor Bob Scales.

The Poulsbo City Council authorized Erickson to send a letter of offer to the City of Bainbridge Wednesday night.

The relocation must be approved by both city councils, and Erickson hopes to have the measure passed by the end of October. The court could relocate as early as January 2011.

Bainbridge courts would rent about 2,500 square feet of court space, and would share the cost of a security guard with Poulsbo’s Municipal Court. The two courts would operate on alternating days to avoid overcrowding, Erickson said. They would also function autonomously, retaining separate city codes and salary schedules.

The City of Bainbridge would lease the space for $42,500 per year, though that amount is up for negotiation. Poulsbo Councilman Ed Stern, who sits on a joint task force to facilitate the partnership, said the annual rent is at the “lower end of the range” of local market rates.

“What we’re not trying to do is per se make money off our neighboring jurisdiction,” he said.

The City of Poulsbo is requesting Bainbridge sign a five-year lease.

The relocation would allow Bainbridge courts to vacate their current Rolling Bay building, which staff members have said is a liability.

Bainbridge currently pays about $600,000 for its courts each year, according to its 2010 budget.

The city is also looking for various ways to cut expenditures to shore up its nearly non-existent reserves, including additional staff cuts. Interim City Manager Brenda Bauer will present her preliminary budget at a Sept. 29 meeting.

Scales, who along with Councilor Bill Knobloch represented the city at the meetings, said Bauer will work on the details of the potential move and negotiate the lease before bringing her recommendations to the council.

Scales said he will suggest that the council first discusses the proposal publicly on Oct. 6, followed by a public hearing on Oct. 13 and a possible decision a week later.

The Kitsap County District Court announced last month it would no longer run an office out of Poulsbo, leaving a vacant space in the new city hall for which the county is still contracted to pay $1.2 million.

Erickson said the move could extend important services to more North End residents, including a domestic violence counselor currently housed on Bainbridge.

“That whole concept of sharing resources in government is very important right now,” she said.

Bainbridge Island Review editor Dennis Anstine contributed to this report.

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