A draft proposal to combine the municipal court services of Napavine, Winlock, Toledo and Vader was made available to each city last Wednesday.
The proposal would centralize court services under Winlock, dissolving Napavine Municipal Court and terminating Toledo’s relationship with Lewis County Municipal Court. Vader currently contracts with Winlock for court services, so their arrangements would not change dramatically.
Winlock would supply all court staff and maintain contracts with attorneys and a judge, presently Steven Buzzard, as well as costs for paperwork, interpreters, juries and payment collection.
The other three cities would receive quarterly reports detailing cases filed and fees collected, with court revenue to be divided in a manner agreed upon by all four entities, though not detailed in the draft.
Officials have reasoned it would be cheaper for all four cities to consolidate court services, as only one judge and one prosecutor would be needed and fewer local defendants would have to travel out of the area for court. But an increase in traffic through Winlock as well as significantly larger dockets have been raised as concerns, though current court attendance in Winlock varies greatly depending on the volume and nature of recent attests.
When asked what he feels may be the outcome of a consolidation of the courts, Buzzard stated he is comfortable with whatever decision the City Councils make. All council members will have had an opportunity to discuss the proposal during their respective meetings by April 2.