Walbridge: Mayor's court to be reinstated

Larry Limpf

Funding to reinstate a mayor’s court in the Village of Walbridge will be included in the budget for next year.
“We’ve contacted a couple magistrates and have the software ordered so we’re looking good for a January 1 start date,” mayor Ed Kolanko said.
Village officials opted to eliminate mayor’s court in 2015 and cases normally heard in the court were handled in Perrysburg Municipal Court.
At the time, the village clerk of courts was retiring and it made financial sense, the mayor said, to have the cases handled in the Perrysburg court.
“We kind of looked at it from a profit-loss standpoint. So we decided to discontinue it. What we’ve realized is Perrysburg is a very busy court. If we’re writing citations or there are people who need to go to court it takes time away from our police officers who have to attend court as well. We’ve incurred some overtime costs that we need to factor in,” he said.

Zoning officer
The village is also considering establishing a separate position of a property maintenance/zoning officer next year and any citations from that office could be handled locally in a mayor’s court.
Mayor Kolanko said he’s also received feedback from village residents who’ve paid fines or answered citations in Perrysburg court and would have preferred to settle those issues locally.
The court won’t be set up to become a cash cow for the village administration, the mayor said, adding he’s well aware of the reputation that some local courts have.
“Even looking back at 2015 or 2010, the activity we’ve seen at our court has decreased, not increased. It’s not a profit center for our village. Perhaps for others it is. Our goal is that at the end of the year we have a break-even point with the costs. I think it provides a service to our community and will allow us to handle some property maintenance issues at more of a local level and better run the village,” he said.

A job description and pay scale for the property maintenance/zoning officer position is being written and the related costs will be included in the 2020 budget.
Currently, the village administrator and maintenance personnel share zoning matters.
Mayor’s courts hear cases involving violations of local ordinances and state traffic laws.
A total of 292 Ohio municipalities operated a mayor’s court in 2018, according to data reported to the Ohio Supreme Court. That number includes 138 courts in municipalities with populations of 1,001 to 5,000 residents.


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