The Paradise City Council took “another step in the right direction” Tuesday, crunching numbers to hire a “resident” deputy and implement a municipal court system.
At the budget workshop, city officials allotted an annual salary of $20,000 for a deputy, $3,600 for a municipal judge and $1,200 for a court clerk. The city would also be responsible for providing the contracted deputy with a mounted radar for his/her vehicle, access to an office/restroom facility and workers comp insurance.
The council also budgeted an additional $1,000 for legal consulting fees and $3,600 for fuel. Officials noted that some of the expenses, such as the legal consulting fee, would only be utilized if a citation “went to trial.”
“Most of your tickets are not going to go to court anyway,” City Secretary Teresa Moody said. “Most of them are just gonna pay up … They can either go to the judge, or they can say, ‘No, I want a trial.’ It’s only if you’re going to trial and the city is going to present a case that you’ve got to have the attorney there.”
The city projected $25,000 in court-generated revenue, mostly citations.
“Some of the cost is going to be offset by the income of the tickets,” Council member Michael Robertson said. “It’s kind of a balancing act there.”
But Moody pointed out that the state limited how much revenue could be generated through citations.
“You cannot turn your city into a speed trap,” Moody said. “Only a certain percentage of your income (can come from citations).”
In addition, Moody advised the council that contracted deputies on shift for the city would file with the city. But highway patrol officers and other deputies not on duty for the city “are under no obligation to file it in the city’s court.”
“They can file it anywhere in the county that they want to file it,” she said. “Resident deputies would file it with us. The others have the option to choose.”
The municipal court would meet once a month. The deputy would work 20 hours a week “mostly in the evenings and in the mornings before school.”
With the adjustments for a resident deputy and a reinstated donation to the city’s volunteer fire department, city revenues for the coming fiscal year total $202,200, with $3,500 in the contingency fund.
Earlier this month, council members said “incoming businesses” and “noise issues” prompted the city’s decision to look into contracting a deputy.
“With the city starting to grow, this is a step in the direction the city needs to take,” Robertson said. “It’s the same thing with the sewer system. These issues will need to be addressed in the future.”