PASCO -- The last day of Connell Municipal Court will be Monday.
On Wednesday, Franklin County commissioners unanimously approved the agreements that allow Connell to hire the county prosecutor's office, District Court and bicounty Office of Public Defense to serve as the city's municipal court.
The Connell City Council approved the contracts last month.
Two county commissioners expressed reservations about the plan, despite their vote to approve it.
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Commission Chairman Brad Peck said the costs to the citizens of Connell likely were underestimated. Connell anticipates having a net savings of about $35,000 with the court switch in 2011.
"I will be delighted if four years from now it turns out that I'm dead wrong," Peck said.
The city will be stuck with the agreement for four years, whether it turns out to be "good, bad or indifferent," he said.
While it is important to respect decisions that the Connell City Council makes, all Connell residents are county citizens too, Peck said.
Commissioner Bob Koch, who lives in Connell, said he shares Peck's concerns. Last week, he asked for the pros and cons the city considered, the financial analysis and transcripts of the city council discussion.
However, Koch said, "it will be a more seamless court system, I think, with this adoption."
Commissioner Rick Miller said he thinks the county doesn't have the jurisdiction to govern the city of Connell.
The agreement seems to be a win for the city as well as the county, he said.
County Prosecutor Steve Lowe has said the revenue from the contract will help his office stabilize staffing.
County officials have said Connell's caseload, which is about 3.5 percent of District Court's, should fit into the current workloads for the court, prosecutor's office and Office of Public Defense.
Connell City Administrator Steve Taylor said the city anticipates having improved, more efficient justice through its contract with the county.
The city does not have the resources to offer work release or supervised probation on its own, Taylor said. But those options, along with electronic home monitoring, will be available, thanks to the agreement.
Taylor anticipates that the county will take over municipal court in October. Connell Municipal Court currently meets once a month.
-- A lobbyist will continue to represent the county in Olympia for the next two years.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to renew a two-year contract with James Potts of Spokane. The cost to the county is $3,600 each year.
Miller said hiring Potts is a less expensive way of having someone in Olympia to express county concerns to legislators.
Koch said Potts keeps the commissioners up to date on any proposed legislation that could end up costing the county.
-- Pending murder trials are increasing the county's expenses again.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to transfer $5,000 from the county's reserves to Superior Court to cover unexpected interpreter costs for some of the five pending homicide trials.
County Administrator Fred Bowen said Superior Court has about $2,700 left to pay for the professional service expense, but costs are anticipated to be approximately $10,000 more for the year.
The county also is expected to spend more than $500,000 this year for bicounty Office of Public Defense professional services, such as nonroutine attorney fees, investigative services, expert witnesses, medical records and transcriptions. That's five times what originally was budgeted.
-- Commissioners unanimously passed fire code updates that explain requirements for rural development where there isn't on-site water for firefighting.
Fire districts have requested that when a subdivision has lots smaller than 2 acres, on-site water be required.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org