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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Cottonwood Heights and Holladay revise justice court contract

Jun 19, 2017 11:15AM ● By Cassie Goff

Cottonwood Heights does not have its own justice court, but it is contracted with Holladay. Cottonwood Heights is estimated to provide the justice court with 70 percent of their volume. (Cottonwood Heights City)

By Cassie Goff  |  [email protected]

Since 2010, Cottonwood Heights City has contracted with Holladay City for justice court services, as Cottonwood Heights does not have their own justice court. Recently, Holladay has asked for a renegotiation of their contract so they can re-evaluate the justice court’s budget. 

The Holladay court “has jurisdiction to hear all Class B and Class C misdemeanors and Infractions occurring within the boundaries of the City of Holladay, and by interlocal agreement within the boundaries of Cottonwood Heights City. The Court also hears small claims matters arising in Holladay and Cottonwood Heights,” Holladay’s justice court statement says.  

In other words, “The Holladay Municipal Justice Court has jurisdiction over class B and C misdemeanor crimes that occur within the borders of Holladay City, Utah. By agreement with the City of Cottonwood Heights, the Holladay Justice Court also handles misdemeanor crimes that occur in Cottonwood Heights,” said Canyons Law Group.

When Cottonwood Heights was incorporated in 2005, the city originally worked with Salt Lake County for justice court services. After about five years with the county, they “were displeased and went to Holladay as a contract entity,” Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore said.

The original contract between the two cities began in 2010 and was set for three years. After the contract expired, the cities renewed it every year.

Within the contract, it was agreed that Holladay would “run the court, and Cottonwood Heights would have no say in the management,” Cullimore explained. Cottonwood Heights would then receive a payment from Holladay on a regular basis.

The major reason for Holladay’s wish to renegotiate the contract stems from a failing costs and revenue system. Holladay’s justice court receives revenue from Cottonwood Heights’s citations, Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake’s citations in Holladay, and the variable expenses from Cottonwood Heights’s presence in Holladay’s courts. Cottonwood Heights receives a difference from that revenue. “If the difference is less than $20,000, they give us $20,000 a month. However, there’s a downward trend,” City Manager John Park said.

“At the end of this budget year, Holladay will have a $70,000 deficit without paying Cottonwood Heights (what they owe). They are saying ‘mercy!’” Assistant Manager Bryce Haderlie said. Holladay wants to end the existing contract on July 1.

“Holladay wants Cottonwood Heights to be part of the solution,” Cullimore said, which they are happy to do. “We want to negotiate in good faith with Holladay.”

Cottonwood Heights suggested to Holladay that they pay the $80,000 owed to Cottonwood Heights, without any additional payments moving forward. In return, Cottonwood Heights would like to have more of a voice in the management of the courts. “If Holladay is going to have us share the burden, Cottonwood Heights needs more of a say in things,” Haderlie said. 

Moving forward, Cottonwood Heights aims to make some improvements within the courts. “I’ve met with Robby (Russo, Cottonwood Heights police chief) and his staff to figure out some of the challenges they are seeing,” Haderlie said.

One of the current challenges stems from a section of the original contract. Cottonwood Heights has been receiving incomplete reports from Holladay about the justice court. Additional areas of concern for Cottonwood Heights include traffic school ownership, complaints and policy.

“We are becoming part of the situation now,” Cullimore said. “We have to budget money to spend on the court, as opposed to getting money from the court.”

Cullimore suggested an additional option for city staff to explore. He suggested that other entities, such as the surrounding cities, may be interested in a system that could “make Holladay the landlord of the court.”

With this option, a committee would be created that would “manage the court functions. When there are issues, the different entities could have joint access to have discussions with the judge and to court concepts of management, not just legal structures,” Cullimore said.

For now, Cottonwood Heights and Holladay are working on a solution involving “a committee with equal representation from both cities and a contract between the cities,” Haderlie said.