Point Borough OKs Resolution to Extend Shared Municipal Court
New agreement increases percentage paid to Point Beach for administrative costs, while Point Beach pays for police support
The Point Beach Municipal Court operation is one step closer to staying in the Point Borough municipal building on Bridge Avenue.
Point Borough Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to extend the court shared services agreement until 2016. The proposed agreement calls for the Borough to pay more for municipal court administrative costs and to hire, at Point Beach expense, two part-time, special police officers to provide security for Point Beach municipal court sessions in Point Pleasant Borough's Borough Hall on Bridge Avenue.
The proposal still has to be approved by the Point Pleasant Beach Council and then Superior Court Judge Vincent Grasso, sitting in Toms River.
The agreement calls for Point Borough to hire two Class II special officers at a cost of $13 per hour, with no benefits, with Point Beach reimbursing the Borough for the cost of those officers.
The agreement also provides for the Borough to pay 25 percent, instead of the current 15 percent, to pay for administrative court costs. At the last Borough Council meeting, Municipal Attorney Jerry Dasti said Point Beach wanted the Borough to pay more than the current 15 percent.
The Point Beach Council also met last night, but did not discuss the matter.
After the Point Beach meeting, Patch asked Mayor Vincent Barrella if the Borough's vote to hire specials at $13 per hour, to be paid for by Point Beach, and to pay 25 percent more towards administrative costs, is making the shared services agreement sound like a better deal for Point Beach.
"It's a place to start," Barrella said. He said the Borough's hiring of specials "is a significant step in addressing the security issue." He said he did not want to comment further on the matter until he sees the proposal and until after both municipal attorneys have discussed it.
He said Point Beach Municipal Attorney Sean Gertner would call Point Borough Municipal Attorney Jerry Dasti in the morning to get the details and plan how to move forward.
Point Beach has been paying lots of overtime pay, including $20,000 in 2011 alone, to its full-time officers to man municipal court sessions in the Borough's municipal building on Bridge Avenue because Point Beach specials do not have jurisdiction outside of Point Beach. So the Borough hiring its own specials appears to solve that problem because that cost will be significantly less than the overtime Point Beach was paying full-time officers to staff the court.
The state requires uniformed police in court for security.
Point Beach's municipal court moved from Point Beach Borough Hall to Point Borough in 2010 as part of a shared services contract between the two municipalities that also called for the towns to share a municipal court judge and administrator.
The 2010 contract for the municipal court shared services agreement was for three years and can only be undone if both boroughs agree to that.
Dasti said the other issue was the administrative costs. While Point Beach has a high volume of tickets, the vast majority are parking tickets, he said.
Point Borough's tickets were fewer, Dasti said, but for a higher magnitude of offenses, such as driving under the influence and other more serious offenses. Those require more court time, Dasti said.
"They (Point Beach) said, 'We think you should reimburse us more,' " Dasti said.
Councilman Chris Goss said he was wholeheartedly in favor of the agreement because it allows the borough to hire two special officers.
"To start to incorporate more special officers into the borough's patrol needs is something I'm definitely in favor of," Goss said.
Regarding the overall operation of the towns having a municipal court shared services agreement, Dasti said, "It's working well" and that is why the towns agreed to extend it now, instead of waiting until it expires next June.