Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

May 18, 2014

Council to decide fate of Goshen City Court

Discussion set for Tuesday

GOSHEN — The fate of Goshen City Court could be decided this Tuesday.

That’s the word from Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, who has announced that consideration of an ordinance to abolish Goshen City Court will be included on the agenda for Tuesday’s Goshen City Council meeting.

Kauffman, who supports the court’s closure due primarily to concerns over the cost of its continued operation, noted in a recent memo to council members that a number of circumstances have recently combined to provide the city with a solid foundation for considering the court’s abolishment.

In explaining his thought process, Kauffman first noted that the city is not required by Indiana statutes to operate a city court, and instead does so mostly as a convenience to city residents.

“State of Indiana had preferred to eliminate city courts for some time,” Kauffman said in the letter. “First push was because many were not efficiently managed. Judges still don’t need to be attorneys, and there were some squirrely decisions coming from city courts. The most inefficient and ineffective city courts went away years ago. The better ones survived. Goshen has not had a history of judges other than attorneys, nor a reputation for weird decisions.”

That said, Kauffman then pointed to the fact that the court has been operating at a substantial deficit for many years, which in turn requires coverage by a subsidy from property tax revenues. As an example, Kauffman noted that by his calculations, total expenses for the court in 2013 came to $295,000, while the total revenue generated by the court came to approximately $130,000, leading to a net loss for the year of about $165,000.

“It hasn’t paid for itself in years ... maybe never,” Kauffman said of the court. “The subsidy last year, when one includes all personnel expenses, was approximately $150,000. We would need to be a whole lot more aggressive to fill this kind of hole. Presuming a similar subsidy from property taxes in the future, it will be $600,000 subsidy until the next opportunity to close city court.”

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