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Brown Deer, Glendale to share judge in consolidated court

Officials hope to eventually add communities

Nov. 6, 2012

Brown Deer and Glendale will share a traveling municipal court judge after the coming April election and will likely begin to combine other court operations in the coming years.

The Brown Deer Village Board voted, 6-1, on Monday to approve a shared services agreement, which Glendale had approved at an Oct. 8 meeting, paving the way for a shared judge and potential further integration. Trustee Gary Springman voted against the agreement, saying he would have liked more information.

Brown Deer Village and Glendale City Attorney John Fuchs said savings, if any, will be minimal up front, and the shared judge won't have much of an effect on everyday business since court operations have already been individually budgeted in Brown Deer and Glendale for 2013.

"If you weren't told (about the change)," Fuchs said, "you wouldn't notice it."

He said that savings and added revenue would accumulate as the Brown Deer Municipal Court streamlines its pretrial process to resemble the Glendale court, which he said is more efficient.

As the name North Shore Municipal Court implies, officials are hoping other area communities join up over time, creating additional savings and eventually resembling something like the 16-community Mid-Moraine Municipal Court headquartered in West Bend or the 17-community, Oconomowoc-based Lake Country Municipal Court.

Brown Deer Treasurer Bridget Souffrant told the board that, after consulting with the software company that provides their court record database, the up front cost of combining databases might prove prohibitive for smaller area communities. She added that it might not make sense for communities to pay the cost of joining without substantial savings to match.

Nevertheless, Souffrant said the shared judge and consolidated court could lead to potential efficiencies the two communities could find over time.

"The groundwork is there to make it an easier transition, logistically, when everything else on the operational side is ready to move forward," Souffrant said.

According to Fuchs, the traveling judge would likely be paid the combined salary of the current Brown Deer and Glendale judges, with each community contributing approximately the cost of its judge. Given the larger case volume of Glendale, in part generated by the Bayshore Town Center, Fuchs said the larger share of the traveling judge's wage would come from Glendale.

The shared services agreement allows for the communities to dissolve the consolidated court if it doesn't live up to expectations.

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