Yakima County Commissioners and Judges Sign Innovative Agreement - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Yakima County Commissioners and Judges Sign Innovative Agreement

Posted: Updated:

YAKIMA, Wash.--Signed, sealed and delivered. Yakima County Commissioners signed off on a cutting edge agreement, establishing new court protocols with the County's Judges Tuesday.

"You very seldom see judges go to commissioner meetings to sign agreements, but this was huge," said Harold Delia, Yakima County's Administrative Court Consultant. "Because it really does separate the courts from the rest of government."

"The courts are no longer as they have been in the past, influenced or affected by budgeting issues concerning the prosecutor, the assigned council," said County Commissioner Mike Leita.

For months now, court consultants and county commissioners have been discussing ways to improve their working relationship so they can avoid the problems that are currently plaguing another Washington County. Grays Harbor Superior Court Judges are suing their commissioners over budget cuts and the right to decide where the remaining money should go.

"You've got one government entity suing another government entity and who ends up paying for all of this the taxpayer," said Leita.

Delia said the protocols don't protect courts from future cuts but they will have more control over the budget, deciding who to hire and what programs to fund.

"We're saving you {taxpayers} money and bureaucratic time," said Delia. "We're putting programs in place quickly like the graffiti paint out that are needed immediately."

The new protocols also set up the Yakima County Court with a contingency fund. For the first time, the court system can save over $100,000 a year for emergencies.