In an effort to avoid any additional taxing for Sumner citizens, Sumner has moved its courthouse operations to Bonney Lake.
Every year the Sumner City Council has to grapple with a growing hole in the budget because the 1-percent limit on property tax collections can’t keep up with inflation, said Carmen Palmer, Sumner’s communications director.
“Believe it or not, no one likes raising taxes, even government,” Palmer said. “This move — and its savings — was one of the efficiencies they asked us to find in order to avoid having to tax our citizens more. We’re proud to still have one of the lowest property tax rates (the city portion) in Washington.”
Sumner now joins Bonney Lake’s list as the fourth city that the city currently contracts with for the use of its court space.
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“South Prairie, Eatonville, ourselves and Sumner all contract with us,” said Bonney Lake City Administrator Don Morrison. “Sumner’s judge, prosecutor, and public defender will all stay, but Sumner does have the option to use Bonney Lake’s court staff, if they so chose.”
Bonney Lake has established a court calendar with Sumner, and Sumner will have a day to conduct all of its own court cases, Morrison said.
Sharing court space projects to save about $130,000 out of the 2016 general fund savings, and that number is expected to exceed $150,000 in 2017, according to Jason Wilson, administrative services director for Sumner.
For Bonney Lake, it means the city can recover the cost of service.
“They treat our sewage and run our animal control,” Morrison said. “We do one service, they do two. It’s an inner-local agreement. It will cover our costs for our court.”
Morrison says that while the move eliminated two of the three court clerk positions for Sumner, two of the former clerks had already found other jobs, and the third was brought over as a court judicial specialist.
When Eatonville and Bonney Lake established court agreements, Morrison said it was a smooth transition.
“I expect the same with Sumner,” he added.
The Bonney Lake Justice & Municipal Center is located at 9002 Main Street East in Bonney Lake.