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Placing Wellsville with East Liverpool court has merit

April 26, 2009
Morning Journal News

The idea may have been advanced too late, but Wellsville Village Council's request to be placed under the jurisdiction of the East Liverpool Municipal Court may still make sense.

At Tuesday's meeting, Village Council voted unanimously to send letters to state legislators, Sen. Jason Wilson and Rep. Linda Bolon, asking them to introduce legislation amending state law to place Wellsville in the East Liverpool Municipal Court system. Wellsville is currently in the county municipal court system located in Lisbon.

Councilman Tony Cataldo, who initially recommended it, said the move would save the village money by cutting drastically the amount of wear and tear on police cruisers which must travel 46 miles round trip to Lisbon for court cases, versus 10 miles to and from East Liverpool. Having the court in East Liverpool would also cut down the amount of overtime accrued by police officers required to testify and would also benefit village residents who need to file cases or appear in court.

This move makes sense and probably should have been done a long time ago.

The problem is, however, a little more than a month ago East Liverpool City Council began considering a move to eliminate the city's municipal court and move its cases to the county municipal court.

East Liverpool Councilman Ryan Stovall made the motion to push for the court's elimination at the March 17 City Council meeting citing the fact that the city pays for municipal court out of its general fund. While admitting that the court also brings in revenue, Stovall said he did not believe the court paid for itself. In 2008 $361,464 was spent on Municipal Court, while $138,473 was sent back to the city in fines, court cost, bond forfeitures and other fees.

To eliminate its municipal court, East Liverpool must also petition Wilson and Bolon to introduce legislation to change the county court alignment, a move which could take five years.

East Liverpool City Council in the meantime should consider, as Wellsville did, how much it would cost in cruiser wear and tear and police overtime to have the court in Lisbon. It should also take into consideration the inconvenience it would cause for city residents and the townships of St. Clair and Liverpool which also use East Liverpool Municipal Court.

They should also figure out what bringing Wellsville into the fold would mean to the court economically.

Perhaps after everything is factored in, even the intangible costs, both towns may decide that keeping the court in East Liverpool would benefit all.



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