The Union Gap City Council, searching for ways to save money has authorized its city manager to enter into contract negotiations with the Yakima County District Court officials to transfer operation of the Union Gap Municipal Court to Yakima County. City Manager Rod Otterness, an attorney himself says the city may be better able to provide municipal court services in partnership with a larger unit of government.

Otterness cited the need for infrastructure improvements and additional staff to successfully run the court over the long term. He questions whether the city of Union Gap can afford the improvements needed to be successful. Otterness noted that the present court was moved to a former fire station when Union Gap city hall was closed because of mold and does not have a jury room for deliberations nor adequate witness rooms. “What do we do when a 10-year-old child witness needs consolation from a parent during a court proceeding?” asked Otterness. He notes that Yakima County Court personnel have the resources and staff to handle the municipal court operations for Union Gap. The city council’s action is preliminary and only authorizes negotiations to begin. Any proposed agreement would have to be approved by the council at a future meeting.