Poll: Should Matawan Combine Courts with Hazlet and Keyport?

The Borough Council says a combined court system, based in Hazlet, could save Matawan $80,000 a year.

The Matawan Borough Council this week discussed joining a regional court system with neighboring municipalities and agreed to place the idea on its Sept. 20 meeting agenda. (See Poll below.)

According to Borough Attorney Pasquale Menna, the agreement would be between Matawan, Hazlet and Keyport. The Hazlet Municipal Court would host the court system because it is the most up to date facility, according to Mayor Paul Buccellato.

The move, discussed at Tuesday's work session, would save money, according to the council, because of the shared services. For example, there would only be one judge rather than three. Since it is a regional court system, the judge would have to be appointed at the state level, according to Menna.

"This is something that is not new, other areas are doing it," Buccellato said. "Matawan is looking at it for major cost savings."

The savings are estimated at $80,000 a year for the borough, with Hazlet and Keyport also saving approximately that much each.

Although the court costs are shared, the court revenue is not, according to Menna. Each municipality would still retain their own revenue from tickets and court fees.

According to an article in the Independent in Oct. of 2007, the borough conducted a study to evaluate the cost to renovate the court room in the municipal community center. The renovations at $221,000, and the borough decided to look for other, less expensive options according to the article.

In addition to the high cost, Buccellato - then a councilman - noted that even with renovations, having the courtroom in the community center is a poor design because there is no specific room designated for holding prisoners, according to the article.

At that time, according to the article, the council settled for having Menna contact neighboring communities to inquire about renting or leasing courtrooms and court services, however they did not end up selecting that as a solution.

No final decision was made regarding the regional court system, however the council did agree to draft an agreement that would be discussed at the council's next regular action meeting on Sept. 20.

kim olsen September 09, 2011 at 12:50 PM
I think Matawan and Aberdeen should be combined- Courts and the police-
Practical Thinker September 13, 2011 at 03:01 PM
The cost to upgrade the Hazlet Municipal Town Hall for a regional court system was visited by the Lavan Administration in 2008 to share services and save municipalities money across the Board. It was determined that the cost to install Bullet-proof glass (to protect the Judge and Court Officials) a metal detector at the entrance door and upgrades otherwise required to accompdate a Governor-appointed Regional Magistrate were cost-prohibitive as compared to the savings that could be realized over a five year period. Unless the three municipalities are agreeable to designating matching funds to finance these upgrades, the agreement should not be finalized. The burden should not be placed upon Hazlet to install the upgrades required. Also, the "sending" municipalities should be required to share in the insurance costs associated with incarceration of alleged criminals, transportation costs from cell to courtroom, meals, hygeine, medical expenses, etc. Unless these "shared expenses" are agreed upon, the brunt of the expense would fall to the "lead municipality, " Hazlet. Taxpayers there will not support an increased expense that "invites" alleged criminals to peruse their properties for what might become potential targets in the future.
cyastoy September 14, 2011 at 12:47 AM
Having lived in Matawan for several years, I agree with Kim O. Since other things are shared bw Matawan and Aberdeen (ie the zipcode, fire dept etc), I think the courts should be combined as well. Also there were alot of times that I saw Aberdeen cops assisting in Matawan and vice versa. As practical thinker stated earlier regarding the costs for upgrading the building and securing those arrested, my recollection tells me that Aberdeen already has a metal detector and bullet proof glass (at least it appears that way) for the court clerk so that might be more cost effective.
Bruce Sinclair September 14, 2011 at 04:18 PM
The creation of Matawan Borough from portions of what was then Matawan Township marked a deep cleavage between Matawan and Aberdeen, which persists until today. That the proposal in question involves Keyport and Hazlet - and not Aberdeen Township - suggests to me that either the question was raised and rejected (by one party or the other) or that those proposing this particular regionalization plan chose to avoid the question of including Aberdeen Township. Why this should be so is a matter I cannot quite understand, despite having lived here my entire life.


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