Janesville58°

Joint municipal court effort moves along

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Kayla Bunge
October 14, 2008

Fontana and Walworth are inching closer to establishing a joint municipal court, but officials don’t have a timetable for how soon it could happen.


“We want to make sure the appropriate homework has been done … so we can make a decision for the right reasons,” said Fontana Village Administrator Kelly Hayden.


The Ad Hoc Joint Services Committee, which for almost a year has been exploring consolidation of services between the two villages, has drafted an agreement that would create the Fontana Walworth Court Commission to oversee the joint municipal court.


The agreement remains under review. It would create the court commission and spell out its powers, including appointing a court clerk, scheduling meetings and recommending an annual operating budget.


Fontana’s village attorney has reviewed the agreement and has made a list of suggestions—“mostly technicalities”—to tweak the document, Hayden said.


Walworth still is reviewing the agreement, said Walworth Trustee Matt Long, who also is chairman of the ad hoc committee.


Officials anticipate more discussion about the proposal before it’s set into motion.


“I would expect there to be a continued conversation about it until we get an agreement that we could be happy with,” Long said.


Changes to the draft agreement could be discussed at the next meeting of the Ad Hoc Joint Services Committee on Oct. 30.


Although there’s no timetable for getting the joint municipal court up and running, Hayden said the agreement would have to be finalized before municipal judges declare their candidacy in December.


Walworth Municipal Judge John Peterson is up for re-election in April and would have to take out papers in December. Fontana Municipal Judge David Jensen, who was elected in April, wouldn’t have to take out papers until December 2009 for possible reelection in April 2010.


“We’re just going to move on as much as we can with the changes that come up,” Long said. “I think both (village) boards understand that the consolidation effort is a good idea and should be explored, and we’re going to keep working until we find a common ground.”



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