EATONTOWN: Earlier this year, Tinton Falls decided to end its shared services agreement with Eatontown for the use of its court, however the sides have now come to a new agreement.
The agreement was ended in February after Tinton Falls said the "costs being assumed by Tinton Falls to operate Eatontown's court have been greater than anticipated and efficiencies that once existed are no longer present making the the terms of the (agreement) impractical." It later was revealed that Eatontown's new choice in Judge, Eugene Melody, was the reason for the split, as Tinton Falls did not want to end its agreement with Judge Schroeder-Clark, who was hired separately by each town. This caused a heated debate between the Republican members of the Eatontown Council who wanted to keep Clark, and the Democrats and Independent members who voted to appoint Melody.
The matter was discussed publicly once with both sides arguing their reasons for or against the switch, but has mostly been talked about during closed session. Regardless of either sides' reasons, the borough had to reach a decision, as its original agreement with Tinton Falls was set to end in August.
During the June 14 Eatontown Council meeting, a resolution creating a new agreement between the two boroughs was unanimously passed. The agreement now has an annual cost of $275,000 for Eatontown; a $150,000 increase from the previous contract, according to Eatontown Administrator George Jackson.
Jackson said the borough looked at a few other options including sharing court services with Oceanport and Ocean Township or even reestablishing the borough's own court, but ultimately decided to renegotiate its contract with Tinton Falls and try to reach an agreement.
"With all things considered, of all of the solutions this was the best route for the town," Jackson said.
Jackson said the cost of all the other options would have carried a greater cost that than the $150,000 increase with Tinton Falls.
The new contract also states that it cannot be terminated for 18 months and that there "has to be a specific reason" for the contract to be terminated.
Tinton Falls' court employees will continue to handle the court administration services, and Eatontown will provide its own judge.