Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell told the County Commission on Wednesday that she has no plans to take over operation of the City Court Clerk's office.
A draft of an inter-local agreement whereby the Criminal Court Clerk's office would begin operating the City Court Clerk's office was distributed at the Courts Building on Tuesday. The draft of the agreement had the start date as Sept. 15.
Ms. Tidwell said she had one meeting with Mayor Ron Littlefield about the idea, and she said he then submitted the draft agreement.
But she said she sees no benefit in having one arm of government take over the operation of another arm. She said it would just be cost shifting "and not accomplish anything."
County Commission Chairman Fred Skillern said Tuesday was the first he had heard about the proposal.
He said, "This has never been discussed with me. I would do nothing on this until I had all the facts and figures on all the costs involved.
"Unless it helps all taxpayers, I am not going to be for it."
Chairman Skillern said he was advised that Ms. Tidwell had sent a list of questions to Mayor Littlefield and was still awaiting an answer.
He said savings were promised when the city and county schools merged, but he said the expense "has been much greater."
Commissioner Larry Henry said he favors consolidation "if it will be cost effective."
He said Mayor Littlefield "needs to be a little more tactful in his approach of how he is going about this."
Commissioner Henry said the commission needs to be included in the talks. "We don't need to be the last ones to find out."
Russell Bean and Sherry Paty, the two City Court judges, said they had not had any involvement in working up the agreement and only saw it for the first time today.
Mayor Littlefield said steps are also being taken toward combining the county trustee's office with the city treasurer's office.
Commissioner Bill Hullander, who will become trustee in September, said he expects any combination of the trustee's office with the city treasurer's office would take at least a year.
The court clerk arrangement would be for three years, then it would be continued on a year-to-year basis after that, according to the draft.
The Criminal Court Clerk's office would turn over funds taken in on city cases to the city treasurer on a monthly basis. Mayor Littlefield said in some cases payments by citizens for such items as parking tickets may be sent directly to the city treasurer's office.
The Criminal Court Clerk would be paid a fee by the city for operating the office, under the draft. That amount was not listed.
Both offices are in the City-County Courts Building.
The document has spaces for the signatures of Mayor Littlefield, Ms. Tidwell and County Mayor Claude Ramsey.
Any such agreement would need to be voted upon and approved by both the City Council and the County Commission.
Mayor Littlefield has been pushing for such mergers of city and county government. He would like a full merger of the two governments. County Mayor Ramsey has said he would work on specific areas of consolidation.
This move would not be a complete merger since the two city judges do not run countywide and could not be merged with General Sessions Court, which is just down the hall from City Court on the second floor.
Ms. Tidwell formerly was City Court clerk.
Jan Turner has been interim City Court clerk since Ed Hammond left the post.