The city of Forest Grove may take over the city of Gaston's municipal court duties

The city of Forest Grove might take over the city of Gaston's municipal court, as it did for Cornelius four years ago.

Staff members from both cities discussed the matter Thursday, Nov. 30.

Gaston City Recorder Wenonah Blanchette said Gaston leaders would like Forest Grove staff to take over their courts if they're willing. "It's just contingent on whether they feel it would benefit them as well."

Forest Grove Finance Director Paul Downey said his staff will meet to discuss whether they want to make a proposal. They'll also consult with City Manager Jesse VanderZanden.

The Forest Grove Municipal Court took on court duties for Cornelius in March 2013, adding about 75 to 100 citations per month to its workload.

Gaston's ticket volume is considerably less, averaging about 10 to 15 tickets per month, so Downey is confident the city's current staff could handle the increase if both parties decided the arrangement would work.

The majority of municipal court tickets are traffic tickets from police officers, but there is the occasional city code violation as well.

While no decisions about merging the courts have been made, both parties are confident the arrangement will work out if they decide to move forward. "It's a pretty basic and easy thing for us to do," Downey said.

The increased revenue coming into to Forest Grove will help offset municipal court expenses. In addition, Gaston City and Municipal Court Clerk Sharon Bregante-Candau will have more time to dedicate to grant research and writing for Gaston city repairs and projects if she isn't in charge of tickets anymore.

"We want to make the city more streamlined and efficient," she said.

In its arrangement with Cornelius, Forest Grove keeps the first $30,000 in revenue, then splits the rest 50-50. Downey said the monetary split with Gaston will be decided in future meetings if both parties decide to move forward.

Those with Gaston municipal court tickets could mail their payments, but would have to come into Forest Grove if they wish to attend their court date.

By Stephanie Haugen
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times
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