A Cochise County Board of Supervisors work session called to discuss court consolidation agreements between the county and six municipalities ended in uncertainty after a justice of the peace said he was not signing the contract.
Justice of the Peace Trevor Ward of the Willcox Justice Court Precinct 4 — who said he was speaking for all justices of the peace — said he could not sign an agreement that he has not been made privy to.
There are six justice courts in Cochise County: Willcox, Sierra Vista, Bisbee, Benson, Douglas and Bowie. The cities have entered into intergovernmental agreements that allow the county to run their municipal courts. Each city pays for the service. The municipalities send the county revenues garnered from fines and citations.
“I present the question if anyone would enter into a contract without knowing what the obligations are,” Ward said to the panel. “There were no solicitations or feedback from the parties involved (the justices of the peace.)”
Willcox pays Cochise County $79,000 a year to operate the municipal court.
Board Supervisor Ann English asked Ward about the Willcox agreement and why it would not be signed.
“We weren’t a party to it, we weren’t included,” Ward said. “We weren’t afforded the opportunity to renew the intergovernmental agreement.”
Sierra Vista has issues with its consolidated court agreement.
Last week, the Sierra Vista City Council talked about its contract and at least two council members raised concerns regarding financial information they had requested from the county a year ago. Sierra Vista pays the county $161,000 annually for its court services.
The item was on the City Council’s July 9 agenda, but after a tense discussion about the consolidated court agreement at a July 7 work session Sierra Vista Mayor Rick Mueller removed it. Two Sierra Vista council members were frustrated that the county had not sent the city information showing the revenue stream the county receives from other law-enforcement agencies that use the Sierra Vista Justice Court. Mueller said the item will be discussed at another work session.
At Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors work session, English and County Supervisor Tom Borer expressed uncertainty about what would happen with the justice court agreements.
County Supervisor Peggy Judd suggested that the cities with justice courts should “continue to negotiate.”
Boerer agreed and said the issue would be revisited at another work session on July 29.
Ward said he did not know if Willcox’s concerns could be resolved by then, but he left the work session on a positive note: “We look forward toward an amicable agreement. We do want to work together as a group.”