By Nancy Covert
Steilacoom’s municipal court held its final session on Sept. 4, 2013. The municipal court had operated for about two decades in the town.
Municipal court services now will be offered through the City of Lakewood. Changing operational requirements, including increased pressure on small local courts, necessity for increased security, changes in Case Law, etc., prompted the Town to partner with Lakewood’s Municipal Court to provide these services.
The decision to end court services in Steilacoom is primarily a financial decision, explained Steilacoom’s Mayor Ron Lucas during the Town’s Sept. 3 council meeting.
The City of University Place also will partner with Lakewood. The City of DuPont has a year remaining on its current contract, but is expected to join the other local cities in holding municipal-level cases in Lakewood, Mayor Lucas said.
In 2012, The Town had spent about $137,000 annually to operate its municipal court, according to Paul Loveless, Steilacoom’s Town Administrator. That reflects $75,000 in gross revenue, with a difference of about $62,000. The Town also paid $30,000 in jail costs.
Between January-June 2013; the town’s expenses were $70,000; with gross revenue at $31,000, plus $19,000 for jail costs.
Under the new arrangement, the Town of Steilacoom will pay Lakewood $10,000 for municipal court expenses. The Town will continue to pay jail costs.
Larry Hoffman, Steilacoom’s Town Attorney, commended out-going municipal court Judge William Michelman for his professionalism and service during the past seven years. Michelman replaced Judge Spiro Damis who retired in 2006.
Michelman conducted the court with dignity, Hoffman added.