Cities to explore consolidating courts

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS – Five cities could consolidate their District Courts in a potential cost-saving measure.

City councilors unanimously approved a proposal at their regular meeting Sept. 13 to allow a consulting group to weigh the pros and cons of possible consolidation of the 20th District Court in Dearborn Heights, 22nd District Court in Inkster, 21st District Court in Garden City, 18th District Court in Westland and 29th District Court in Wayne.

The study will allow the National Center for State Courts to draw up a plan that would include a streamlined structure model for the courts and a plan to share the costs.

Representatives of each city and its court met Sept. 2 and agreed to allow NCSC to perform the study.

According to a letter to the Heights councilors dated Sept. 7, all four cities will pay one-fifth of the almost-$45,000 bill for the study, an estimated $9,000 each. In return, Westland agreed to pay for the proposal, while the other four cities will reimburse them for the cost. Dearborn Heights’ share comes to $888.

According to the proposed resolution, following the study, the NCSC would provide a written report to the five cities outlining any savings the cities would incur if the buildings are consolidated. It would also outline which positions would be eliminated and how many will stay.

In the letter, Mayor Daniel Paletko said the “historical” agreement is aimed at reducing costs and providing a more streamlined and efficient judicial system.

Councilwoman Margaret Van Houten emphasized that approving the consolidation is a many-step process.

“It takes many processes including the Michigan Legislature to take action,” she said, “Plus all the municipal legislative bodies have to take action before consolidation would take place. This is just the first step in a long road.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)