Clinton Township Court to Critics: GO TO JAIL

A shout-out to Tom Borkowski & Spencer Peck: “We told you so!”

When the Township Council took action to start its own municipal court in 2007, the naysayers came out of the woodwork. Spencer “Big Hat” Peck had a brilliant alternative (he was running for mayor): Clinton Township should save money! Use the county’s courthouse!

Yah. Send people to Flemington for court. Send our cops to Flemington to attend court — and pay them to drive back and forth? Insane!

Former Mayor Tom Borkowski told us to keep trying to negotiate with the North Court. Don’t leave! It’s a mistake! You will never succeed!

Even Judge Edward Martin told newspapers that Clinton Township’s Court was doomed to failure. (We declined to hire him. Who needs a naysayer in the business?)

The results are in. Lucky we didn’t sit on our hands like Borkowski did for years. Had his buddy Peck gotten elected, our court staff would be carpooling and singing “Here come da Judge!”

Here’s the editorial in today’s Democrat:

Hunterdon County Democrat
April 30, 2009

Bigger Isn’t Cheaper

We watch the state encourage small school districts to merge with larger ones and Trenton officials argue that local governments would save money by sharing more services. While there is often an economy of scale, Clinton Township is showing us that’s not always the case.

For years, township officials sought to change the rules that governed the 10 members of the North Hunterdon Municipal Court, but only had one of the 10 votes on the committee managing the court. In the end, no agreement could be reached on Clinton Township’s proposals to reduce administrative costs and change the way fixed costs were shared, so the township quit that court and created its own. That was more than a year ago.

Clinton Township wasn’t alone in bailing out of the North court. When Califon decided to pay for police coverage from Washington Township in Morris County, it also switched to Washington’s court. Even without Clinton Township and Califon, North Hunterdon Municipal Court remains the state’s largest.

So how did things work out for Clinton Township? The last year the township was a member of the North court, the township lost about $70,000, despite $260,000 in ticket revenue. In 2008, the township’s own court ended up $200,000 in the black.

But there’s more. Union Township recently started using Clinton Township’s court, further offsetting operating costs.

North Hunterdon Municipal Court has gone through many changes since it was created in the 1960s. Over time, we think they’ll re-examine its members’ needs. In that way, everyone will ultimately benefit from Clinton Township’s initiative.

Kudos to our Municipal Court staff and judge!

Read more:
Hunterdon Review
Hunterdon Democrat

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