New state law puts financial disorder in Marysville court

MARYSVILLE – The state taketh away, and the state giveth.

Taxpayers are used to that formula, but now it has even reached Marysville Municipal Court.

A state law went into effect last month that limits the amount of money the court can collect from indigent defendants. The state was following up on some recent Supreme Court rulings regarding ability to pay.

Any criminal who has a public defender is considered indigent. City court judge Lorrie Towers said at the City Council meeting Monday night that includes about 90 percent of their clientele.

To make financial matters even worse, while the law is not retroactive, criminals sentenced prior to June 7 are coming back to court to see if their judgment can be dismissed or reduced.

So Towers was giving the council an early warning that the court would be in need of more funds in the future.

“Infractions might be next,” Towers warned, adding the city will lose $27,000 a year just on interest alone for late payments of fines.

Unless someone is willfully not paying they can’t be forced to, she continued.

“It’s obviously going to have an impact” on the court’s finances, she said.

Towers said the state knows city courts will take a financial hit, so it will provide some funds to offset those costs, but it’s a “minuscule amount.”

“They take it away so they’ll give us a little something,” she said.

The other major topic of the night was an outside consultant’s look at the city’s police department.

Chief Administrative Officer Gloria Hirashima said the report shows the department operates at a high level. However, because of workload, it recommended four new officers for the day shift, one more for the drug task force and a clerical position.

Police Chief Rick Smith said he’s always willing to “learn other things to make us even better.”

The consultant also said the city needs to continue to pursue a new building and jail. The city has a measure on the Aug. 7 ballot that would accomplish just that. Comments from the consultants included: “too small,” “too tight,” “everybody’s crammed in,” and even the dreaded, “sardine can.”

Hirashima said it was reassuring to see the comments about the high need to address the facilities.

“It’s good to get an outside view,” Mayor Jon Nehring said.

Smith said he was proud that the city was told it was “ahead of the game” with programs such as code enforcement and the student resource officers.

Also at the meeting, the city agreed to receive a state grant for $40,000 if it kicked in $10,000. The goal of the grant is to reduce waste by improving recycling.

Public Works director Kevin Nielsen said the city needs to educate residents better about the need to do things like “wash out glass jars.” He said that recycling materials that aren’t cleaned can’t be recycled. So, the materials sit at the port and don’t go anywhere. Eventually, some of it makes its way to a landfill.

In other council news:

•The city received $500,000 in federal money for an overlay project in the Sunnyside area. Nielsen said the “great bid” of almost $645,000 was a few-hundred thousand dollars lower than the other bids. Work could start within a month.

•The council OK’d for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to stay in the city courts building, but only until the end of the year due to lack of space.

•The annual Homemade and Homegrown Street Festival will take place Aug. 10-12. Some streets will be closed as a result.

•The city came to a collective bargaining agreement with some employees. “It took a little while, but we got there,” Hirashima said.

•Sand filters at the wastewater lagoon are at capacity so some new ones at a cost of $156,000 are being purchased.

•Finance director Sandy Langdon said paid family and medical leave costs to the city will amount to about $42,000 in 2019, but employees will pay an even larger amount.

•Hotel/Motel Committee members were confirmed. They include: Jennifer Caveny, Holiday Inn Express; Mary Kirkland, Downtown Merchants Association and Maryfest; Charles Lee, Village Motor Inn; and Jesica Stickles, Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce. Council president Kamille Norton represents the city.

•Appointments also were confirmed for the Community and Housing Development Citizen Advisory Committee: Cassnadra Kunselman, Youth; Kelly Huestis, Parks; Roger Hoen, Planning Commission; Mark James and Tom King, City Council members; Greg Kanehen, Faith; Jodi Condyles, Civic; Daryn Bundy, Business; and Roberto Rivera Sr., Racial/Ethnic Diversity.

In concluding comments from staff and council:

•Nielsen advised folks to not only to stay away from the 116th I-5 overpass this weekend became of closures and detours, but to also stay away from the 88th overpass because that’s where everyone will be detouring to. He also advised to use the trestle sparingly because of ongoing work there. He said city crews are out sealing cracks, causing minor delays. And he said many houses have been demolished to make way for the First Street Bypass and more are on the way.

•Parks director Jim Ballew said police have done a great job getting rid of transients in the waterfront park area, and a closed-circuit video system also is helping out. He added the boat launch will be busy through September during crab and chinook “king” salmon seasons.

•Norton said the Fourth of July Committee should have its recommendation in September.

•Nehring and Smith said the student resource officers put on a Youth Academy for 20 kids this week. Anecdotally they said some told them how much it meant to be a part of it, others wanted to become cops and their families also appreciated it.

•Langdon said the city received a clean audit.

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