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District court budget, funding agreement revisited

By Grace Lovins

While the Birmingham City Commission approved the 2023 budget for the 48th District Court in December, assistant city manager Jana Ecker presented new details regarding a promising potential amendment to the current court funding agreement on Monday, January 9, during the commission meeting.

Under the current court funding agreement, there are three funding units – Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and West Bloomfield – and four political subdivisions – Bloomfield Hills, Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor and Sylvan Lake – that are responsible for funding the court. The funding units carry the bulk of the responsibility for funding the court, and after Bloomfield Hills withdrew as a funding unit last year, the costs became greater for the remaining three units.

Personnel from the three funding units and four political subdivisions met with court staff, the court administrator as well as Judges Marc Barron and Diane D’Agostini on November 30, 2022, to discuss the court’s 2023 budget. During that meeting, according to Ecker, the political subdivisions conceptually agreed to enter into a new agreement that would state in the years when the court’s expenses exceed its revenue from all the jurisdictions, the political subdivisions would help cover the losses of the court by returning some of the revenues that would normally flow to the communities from court cases.

Once the new agreement, which will also contain a termination provision, is signed by the political subdivisions, it would then be added to the current funding agreement, signed by the funding units.

“I shared [at the meeting] that this would go a long way towards at least agreeing to work out something where we’re all contributing in a tough year and it’s not just left on the three funding units, and it’s potentially avoiding costly litigation … and it stops us from wanting to opt out of the funding agreement by the end of January,” Ecker said.

Ecker also noted that Birmingham, along with a few other communities, agreed to change their legal counsel since a few municipalities had the same representation. Birmingham verbally agreed to put together the agreement, outlining what was talked about at the meeting, which was sent out in December.

The full draft of the agreement was sent out on Monday, January 9, and a few jurisdictions had already stated it will distributed to be reviewed and approved. Ecker’s report served as an update to the city commission on what took place during the meeting with the other communities and court staff. No formal action was needed, but the commission will circle back to the discussion in the near future.


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