PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to adopt an ordinance presented by the Sheriff’s Office that changes fees for various types of civil enforcement.
A hearing was held to accept public testimony on the ordinance that adds four new fees, increases some and decreases others, however no one chose to comment. Commissioners took little time adopting the proposal as presented.
“Any service we already provide for free will remain free,” assured Chief Civil Deputy Trevor Hanson, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
“The county sheriff’s office will provide standby services for 15 minutes to a half an hour to insure public safety and that is a service that’s provided without cost,” he continued.
Civil standby occurs when an officer is called by a citizen or directed by a court order to provide security while the various parties in a dispute or domestic violence situation exchange property for a brief period of time, typically 15 to 30 minutes.
“We don’t charge people for protection orders, and one of the goals in the change of this ordinance is to give us a clearer legal authority to not charge people for protection orders. We believe they are important for public safety and don’t want to put someone who is seeking one in a position for not applying for it or not seeking it for financial reasons.”
He said protection orders have been expanded to include anti-harassment and stalking orders.
According to Hanson, the new fees are primarily of two types: to reimburse the sheriff’s office when the enforcement of an civil court order is canceled by the plaintiff after the sheriff’s office begins work on the case; and to accommodate the recent increase in requests for longer “civil standby” services.
Hanson said there has been an increase in these services that can last for several hours or more and explained that sheriff’s office does not have the manpower to accommodate these lengthy requests without incurring overtime. A fee would be assessed for those situations lasting more than a half-hour.
Evictions and other similar actions would not be affected because a landlord is responsible for the cost of a sheriff’s presence during the entire eviction.
There are four new fees have been added to the ordinance.
For cancellations prior to Levy, Writs of Attachments, Writs of Execution or Orders of Sale, whether real or personal property, a $150 cancellation fee in addition to other fees; for cancellation of the same, a $150 fee; for cancellation on services of all other Writs and Court Orders directed to the sheriff, a $20 cancellation in addition to all other fees; and for civil standby, a $20 scheduling fee, plus $60 for each hour a deputy is required to be present, per deputy, with a minimum charge of one hour.
The civil law enforcement unit handles court security, process service and civil enforcement which relates to a court order that relates to a civil lawsuit evictions, repossessions of vehicles and sometimes when there is a clear violation of a parenting plan — for example, when a child is being hidden.
The new fee structure will be adjusted every two years beginning in 2020 using the Consumer Price Index as a guide.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or a [email protected]