MINUTES FOR CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
Monday, June 1, 2009
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:34 p.m.
Councilor Navickas, Voisin, Chapman, Silbiger and Jackson were present. Councilor Lemhouse was absent.
Mayor Stromberg invited Municipal Judge Pam Burkholder Turner to participate in the discussion.
1. Discussion regarding fees and charges for municipal court administration.
City Attorney Richard Appicello provided a presentation on municipal court fees and charges, points discussed included:
The proposed Resolution based the collection fee on Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 137.118(3), would not exceed 25% of the monetary obligation imposed or be higher than $250. The current $100 collection was too high and the resolution made it consistent with the statute as opposed to a flat fee.
Examples of Class violations were provided and it was noted that the municipal court used a flat fee of $145 instead of reducing diversion fees.
ORS 153.093 Minimum Fine Statute applies to violations not punishable by a crime and the Municipal Judge could impose the base line amount but only reduce the amount 25%. The calculation for a violation started with the maximum fine, and then the statute calculated the foundation amount in half and added State and
Currently the municipal court has the discretion to set a penalty and it was not clear if assessment fees went to the State or County.
It was explained that an incentive to paying the fine without contesting might include waiving the court costs or court security fees. The Council could have the waiver written into the ordinance or the Municipal Judge could establish an order to waive fees. Establishing minimum fines and classifications would be easier for police officers because it would make writing City ordinance offenses similar to State law offenses.
Concern was raised that waivers described under 4.35.030(C) would rarely occur and that the ordinance would remove the municipal courtís ability to make decisions based on individual circumstances.
It was explained that waiving Unitary Assessments would require meeting specific criteria with no fine imposed and would apply to all violations.
Court Administration Fees
The Municipal Court Administration Fees Table indicated that the majority of the fees were options the Council could approve or reject. The table also indicated fees that were not subject to Council approval and existing fees. Errors were noted on items #27 and #28 and would be corrected for the regular meeting of June 2, 2009.
Current fines have a $500 maximum with the Municipal Judge deciding what is appropriate to charge. Using the State system and creating four classes of violations, each with its own penalty, provided the advantage of paying the fine without going to municipal court. The Municipal Judge retained the authority, to request offenders appearing in municipal court, to charge a higher fine or reduce a ticket up to 25%. The violation offenses were A, B, C, or D and consistent with the ORS.
Municipal Judge Turner explained the importance on hearing what people had to say and that the primary purpose of the municipal court was education, rehabilitation and punishment. She explained $250 was the amount typically written on tickets, the exception being Meals Tax Violations and that overall the process worked fine.
Comment was made that other Cities added language indicating the municipal court could waive court costs in justifiable cases.
Municipal Judge Turner offered final comments that the ordinances would affect the municipal court administration, the administration of justice and the integrity of the judicial process and was concerned the Study Session and Public Hearing on 6/2/09 did not provide adequate informed decisions concerning major changes to the Ashland Municipal Court. She would provide the Council with statistics on the number of cases and violations the municipal court has received.
Meeting was adjourned at 7:21 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder