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Poulsbo, Bainbridge closer to shared court deal

Construction is nearly finished on Poulsbo
Construction is nearly finished on Poulsbo's new city hall. City leaders hope the City of Bainbridge will relocate its municipal courts to the building, where costs and space could be shared.
— image credit: File photo

POULSBO — The relocation of the Bainbridge Island municipal courts to Poulsbo's new city hall is "looking quite positive," according to Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson.

Officials from both cities met Monday night, including Erickson and Bainbridge Mayor Bob Scales.

The Poulsbo City Council will decide whether or not to send an official invitation to Bainbridge at a meeting tonight.

The relocation must be approved by both city councils, and Erickson hopes to have the measure passed by the end of October.

Bainbridge courts would rent half the court space in the new city hall, about 2,500 square feet, and would share the cost of a security guard with Poulsbo's municipal court. The two courts would operate on alternating days to avoid overcrowding, Erickson said.

The City of Bainbridge would lease the space for an undecided annual sum, probably about $42,000, said Erickson.

Some Bainbridge council members see the relocation as a cost-saving option, others worry the city will lose valuable services.

A domestic violence counselor housed in the Bainbridge court would make the move, providing that service to more of the North End, noted Erickson.

Bainbridge currently pays about $600,000 for its courts each year, according to its 2010 budget. Its leaders are currently looking for ways to cut expenditures to shore up the its nearly non-existent reserves.

The Kitsap County District Court announced last month it would no longer run an office out of Poulsbo, leaving a vacant space in the new city hall for which the county is still contracted to pay $1 million.

The closure of the district court is expected to lose Poulsbo $12,000 a year, and officials hope to rent out additional portions of the new city hall to help pay for the building.

"That whole concept of sharing resources in government is very important right now," Erickson said.

Check back for updates.

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