I am writing to explain my plans to open a mayor's court after the municipal court moves to Stow in 2009.
For decades, the taxpayers of Cuyahoga Falls have hosted and subsidized the operations of the municipal court. When, in 2003, the judges asked for a new courthouse to be built at taxpayer expense, I invited them to look elsewhere. They did, and I am more than happy to let Stow take over the financial responsibility. I believe a properly run mayor's court will be far more efficient.
Court costs in Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court start at $94. With a fine, a person can pay more than $150 for a traffic ticket. The same ticket in mayor's court would cost the motorist under $100.
Recently, a newspaper claimed there is a conflict of interest when the officials levying fines and court costs also spend the money. Yet that is what is happening in municipal courts. Municipal judges establish and collect court costs and then decide how to spend that money, the very practice criticized in mayor's court.
Mayor's court magistrates are appointed by mayors. A bill in the state legislature would have the magistrates appointed by municipal court judges. But, it is bad government to have one public official appointing an official for a competing office. It would be like having the Stow mayor appointed by the Cuyahoga Falls mayor. The legislation would abolish mayor's courts for any city with a population under 1,600, which would have a devastating impact on smaller cities least able to afford it.
The legislation is a shortsighted attempt to eliminate a judicial service that has served this state well for more than 150 years. The people of Ohio deserve the most efficient government service we can provide, and mayor's courts are a cost-effective alternative to municipal courts.
Mayor Don L. Robart
City of Cuyahoga Falls