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Issaquah, not King County, to provide North Bend municipal court

Like Snoqualmie, the city of North Bend snubbed King County in favor of Issaquah for municipal court services.

Historically, North Bend has contracted with King County District Court for these services. That historical arrangement will end with the current contract Dec. 31, 2006.

The North Bend City Council voted Sept. 5 to switch to the city of Issaquah to provide the services the county now provides. Council members approved the first read of a three-year contract with the nearby city that begins Jan. 1, 2007. The final details still need to be hashed out before the agreement is official.

"District Court is very dissappointed in the decision that appears to be coming from the North Bend City Council," said Tricia Crozier, chief administrative officer for King County District Court.

According to North Bend City Clerk Cheryl Proffitt, the contract with King County has been generating less and less revenue for North Bend as costs and allocations have increased. The county keeps 100 percent of the money collected from infractions and misdemeanors and bills the city for additional costs.

The current billing practice has been in effect since 2004. Previously, King County kept 86 percent of revenue collected and returned 14 percent.

By switching to Issaquah, North Bend can expect to receive $10,000-$30,000 annually, Proffitt said. That's because Issaquah charges a flat per case fee rather than a share of the total cost of court service, as King County charges.

Issaquah's courthouse opened Jan. 1, 2005. Lynne Jacobs, court administrator for the city of Issaquah, said the decision to split from King County to form its own municipal court was made for two reasons: to provide better service to city residents and to save money.

With Snoqualmie and North Bend now joining Issaquah, the cities will be able to save money by sharing resources and supplies, Jacobs said. She said her department needs two months minimum to address issues about the transition and jurisdictional concerns.

North Bend's Public Safety Committee reviewed the contract in June and July and recommended approval.

In June, the Snoqualmie City Council voted to change from King County to Issaquah for municipal court services. Snoqualmie leaders anticipate an annual savings of about $18,000.

The Issaquah division of the King County District Court that the cities now use is located at 5415 220th Ave. S.E. in Issaquah. The municipal court location that they will use at the start of the new year is at 135 E. Sunset Way in Issaquah.

For both North Bend and Snoqualmie, the Issaquah Municipal Court will handle infractions and criminal complaints, as well as traffic and nontraffic citations. The King County District Court will continue to be the court for citizens to access civil and small-claims matters. Cases filed on or before Dec. 31, 2006, will continue to be handled in district court.

Crozier said with some cases handled by King County and others by Issaquah, people will have a greater chance chance of becoming confused about which court their case should appear in.

Crozier did not say what may have caused King County's fees to increase or the financial effect the two cities leaving would have on the court system.

Felonies will still be handled in Superior Court.

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