Brown Deer officials willing to explore joint municipal court
Details still need to be worked out with Glendale
Brown Deer - Municipalities across the North Shore share a number of functions, including a joint fire department and, more recently, consolidated dispatch operations and a health department.
In the future, there could be another function to add to the list: municipal court. But for the time being, two of the seven North Shore municipalities in Milwaukee County are exploring the possibility of pooling resources.
The Brown Deer Village Board on Monday voted to explore a consolidated municipal court with Glendale. The move comes on the heels of a similar motion made last week by the Glendale Common Council.
Funding formula key
John Fuchs, a municipal attorney for both communities, said there are a number of logistical issues that would need to be worked out, including a funding formula.
Like other joint operations in the North Shore, the formula would likely be derived after studying a number of criteria, including usage of the court system and overall population.
"The rationale of staff in offering this concept for consideration is that a joint municipal court, properly set up and managed, should achieve both greater efficiency, and a cost savings," Fuchs said.
While Brown Deer and Glendale are the only two communities actively involved in the proposal at the moment, Fuchs said others could be part of it in the future.
"Once created, other municipalities can be invited to consider joining - the idea being to take advantage of additional savings through economy of scale," Fuchs said.
There are nearby examples of joint municipal courts. The Port Washington-based Mid-Moraine Municipal Court system has 14 participating communities, including Mequon and Thiensville.
One hurdle cleared
Fuchs said there is one logistical hurdle already crossed, should the Brown Deer Village Board and Glendale Common Council agree to move forward with a consolidated court. Both municipalities, he said, have almost identical software for court management.
Brown Deer Police Chief Steve Rinzel, who opposed the joint dispatch operations, said he believed a combined municipal court would be prudent.
"It's the right time," said Rinzel, who had a role in forming the Mid-Moraine Court. "I think this could work and help everyone in the long run."
During Monday's deliberations, the Brown Deer Village Board voted unanimously in favor of moving forward with exploration. But several opinions and questions were raised beforehand.
Why only two to start?
Trustee Tim Schilz questioned why the prospect was being looked at now, with only two communities actively involved.
"Why go through this whole exercise without doing more of a holistic approach?" Schilz said.
Village Manager Russell Van Gompel said a seven-community operation could be a long-term goal. But in the immediate future, Van Gompel said he did not envision it coming to fruition.
"Long-term, I think it would make sense, but it could be challenging in the short term," Van Gompel said. "This is a starting point."
Brown Deer and Glendale have the highest number of cases, comparatively, to the other municipalities in the North Shore. Fuchs said leadership from the two communities could lay the ground work for any future discussions.
Trustee Andrea Weddle-Henning said she favored moving forward.
"I think it's a good idea," she said. "I think it's worth investigating."
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