The Benton County Commission quietly approved an agreement with Franklin County to continue operating the Benton-Franklin Superior Court.
The commission signed off Tuesday on the new agreement to have Franklin County pay an additional $42,000 a year to cover its share of administrative costs.
The court agreement was part of the commission’s consent agenda, a package of routine matters passed in a single vote with no discussion.
A dispute over allocating administrative costs threatened to divide the court. All seven members of the Benton-Franklin Superior Court bench wrote a letter opposing a split.
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On Tuesday, Presiding Judge Bob Swisher praised the commission for resolving the dispute.
“It’s a good step forward,” he said.
It’s a good step forward.
Judge Bob Swisher, Benton-Franklin County Superior Court
Benton County administers a number of bicounty operations, including the Superior Court.
Court operations came under scrutiny in January when Benton County leaders publicly claimed the county was subsidizing Franklin County’s share of of the overhead cost by about $661,000, including $42,000 for the courts.
Each county has its own courthouse, prosecutors and staff, but they share judges and administration. Franklin County represents about 30 percent of the court’s caseload.
The two counties are negotiating agreements for human services, personnel and audit services. Franklin County officials expect the final “subsidy” figure will be substantially less.
The Franklin County Commission approved the court agreement March 23. The $42,000 includes a 5 percent administrative fee, or $33,000, and a $9,000 contribution to the benefits packages of some bicounty court employees.