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Courts Wouldn’t Be Affected By Unifying

Question: What happens to courts and judges under consolidation?

Answer: The charter does not change the judicial system.

Q: The charter directs the county to appoint a corporate counsel for civil matters. Doesn’t state law require the county prosecutor to act as the county’s civil attorney?

A: If the freeholders had written a charter for county government only, they couldn’t have changed the duties of the prosecutor.

State guidelines for writing a citycounty charter give much wider latitude, said county attorney Jim Emacio. In fact, freeholders could have gone further and made the prosecutor an appointed, rather than elected, position, he said.

Former county prosecutor Don Brockett suggested the split in power. But Brockett said he’d prefer that the civil attorney be elected, rather than appointed, to make the position more accountable to county residents.

Q: How would consolidation affect the city police and county sheriff’s departments?

A: Like other city and county departments, the two law enforcement agencies would merge under a single management.

The two already share headquarters, a jail, dispatch center and police academy. They work together on some investigations.

The merger could mean more police in the suburbs, which are patrolled less frequently than city neighborhoods. The government could pay for the increase by levying a utility tax - now paid only in the city - on suburban residents.

Police Chief Terry Mangan estimates about 70 new officers would be needed in the next four years.

Police wages are based on salaries in similarly sized departments. Mangan said it could cost millions of dollars to give officers raises to match wages in Seattle and similarly sized departments.

The new elected executive would choose the chief, subject to approval by the city-county council.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: SECTION = THE PUZZLING QUESTION OF CONSOLIDATION