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County, courts hammer out new service contract

July 20, 2011

County leaders recently approved a Memorandum of Understanding with local court officials that outlines what services the county will provide for the courts and at what cost. File photo

County leaders and state court officials have renewed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the responsibilities of each entity as they work together to provide court services to rural Inyo County.
Since the State of California assumed responsibility for the operation and funding of the Superior Court, the county has continued to provide certain services to the court under an MOU, including bailiff services provided by the Sheriff’s Department.
“Over the years the MOU has been updated from time to time to reflect current status of relevant legislation and implement modifications to service levels and/or compensation desired by the parties,” a staff report from County Administrator Kevin Carunchio states. “The prior MOU between the county and court expired, and both parties have continued to provide their historic and respective services to one another, consistent with statutory obligations, until a new MOU could be negotiated.”
The new MOU outlines a number of services the county will provide, many at the same rate as before.
For example, the county will be compensated for the full cost of the deputy sheriffs assigned to bailiff duties, “including overtime costs over a five-hour per week threshold.” The MOU also says the courts will be responsible for reimbursing the county for any costs associated with supervision and support of bailiffs.
During MOU negotiations, the courts opted to retain their own alternate personnel/human resources/risk management representation. However, the county will continue to manage recruitment and benefit administration for the court as long as the county is providing payroll services for court staff.
In exchange for those administration services, the court will pay twice the previous rate or a minimum of $1,250 per month for the next six months. If the courts want to continue relying on the county for those services beyond January 2012, the state will be required to compensate the county at a rate of $1,500 per month.
The MOU goes on to state that the county Public Works Department will continue to provide the court with the same level of custodial services it provides to county departments at a cost of about $1,800 per month through the remainder of the year. If the courts choose to continue relying on the county for those custodial services into 2012, it will compensate the county $2,800 per month.
“The new MOU has been reduced in length and complexity, and is designed to preserve and enhance the mutually beneficial relationship that has been the hallmark of county-court relations in the past,” Carunchio said, pointing out that the document clarifies that the court will continue to manage the collection of court-ordered fees for the county and will be compensated accordingly.
The agreement also says that the county will reimburse the courts for certain public defender contract costs that would otherwise be the responsibility of the court.
In drafting the MOU, Carunchio said county staff worked closely with the courts, County Counsel Randy Keller, Sheriff Bill Lutze and Auditor Controller Leslie Chapman to ensure each department could meet the financial and staffing needs required to continue its work with the courts.

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