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Maple Valley considers using Kent courthouse and jail

Anyone arrested in Maple Valley may end up going to jail in Kent if the City Council approves a proposed interlocal agreement.

Additionally, the city of Kent would provide court services for Maple Valley under the interlocal agreement.

Currently, Maple Valley uses Enumclaw’s municipal court through a similar agreement which will expire at the end of the year.

Under the proposed interlocal agreement, Maple Valley would rent Kent’s municipal court facility while retaining its current judge. It would be considered a separate municipal court apart from Kent. In addition to Enumclaw’s jail services, Maple Valley also has agreements with King County, Issaquah and Okanogan County for jail services, although the new agreement would only affect its agreement with Enumclaw.

One major difference between Kent and Enumclaw, however, would be an additional $85,000 in costs. While Enumclaw charges $60 per day for the use of their jails, Kent would charge $110 per day.

City Manager David Johnston told the council at its Aug. 6 meeting the reason for the discrepancy in costs is not because Kent is charging more, but that Enumclaw’s agreement was underpriced.

“The issue that we need to understand is we that we should have been paying a heck of a lot more to Enumclaw,” he said. “We had that clause that no one from Enumclaw ever exercised saying we should review it every year. They chose not to do that, so we skated along with this no inflationary cost for court services and so I think the cost you see from Kent is probably more realistic to what we should have been paying.”

He also said that Kent is cautious about not losing money, which is what happened with Enumclaw.

“It may be an increase of $80,000 but it’s a fixed cost, a fundamental cost and particularly if we’re relying on another jurisdiction to provide the facility and staffing,” he said. “In talking with John, their city administrator, some of the sides I had away from them, and they said ‘This is new to us we want to make sure we get our cost down and recoup what we can.’ We say ‘Hey we appreciate that but if you’re going to have us be a customer be very sensitive with your price point.’ I think that message was embraced by all people at the negotiating table.”

The search for a new courthouse and jail began last year, when the City Council authorized Johnston to sign a new one-year interlocal agreement with Enumclaw to use its municipal courthouse and the hourly rate for use was changed from $612 to $654.

Johnston told the Reporter in November 2011 that Maple Valley’s use of Enumclaw’s courthouse was costing the city money.

“They’ve expressed some concerns that the volume of their business is getting bigger than the facilities can handle, and they’re correct,” Johnston said. “With the volume of business that our growing community is sending down there it is really tough on their small lobby and small facility. We empathize with Enumclaw and respect their concerns.”

An in-house committee was then formed to look into possible options.

After looking at other cities, including Issaquah, Auburn and Tukwila, the committee recommended Kent as the most viable option.

 

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