Madison County Circuit Clerk Mark Von Nida planned to put a full-time clerk in the satellite court in Collinsville City Hall, but city officials may pull the plug on the whole operation, evicting traffic court from City Hall.
“Collinsville Township is the most populated in the county, and Troy and Maryville are the fastest growing areas,” Von Nida said. “The people living in those areas deserve convenience, instead of having to drive to Edwardsville, find a parking spot, go through court security to pay a traffic ticket.”
A lot of motorists are affected, Von Nida said. Troy alone issues about 5,000 tickets a year, Von Nida said.
A full-time presence would allow members of the public and attorneys to handle minor traffic tickets in Collinsville.
But Collinsville city leaders say City Hall is crowded, and they may want to take back the second floor which is used to house the satellite courtroom.
“We are currently evaluating the option of reclaiming the space for the city, and wanted to give some notice not to make any investments in technology for the courtroom until we can arrive at a final decision,” Interim City Manager Mitch Bair wrote in an email to Von Nida. “Currently, City Hall is lacking space, and having this room dedicated to court without the city having the ability to use it for other purposes is creating issues for us.”
Like Granite City and Alton, Collinsville currently has traffic court once a week, three times a month, Von Nida said, but he wanted to expand services in Collinsville by assigning a full-time clerk, as they do in Alton and Granite City. Preparations began by installing a new phone system, complete with a panic button to the sheriff’s department.
Von Nida said he and former City Manager Scott Williams discussed security for the clerk. Renovations were planned to accommodate court hearings and afford the city a multi-purpose room when court wasn’t in session. A fiber-optic line, paid for by the county but available for the city to use, was being readied for installation.
The city and county would share the costs, Von Nida said, but the exact sharing agreement wasn’t worked out.
Then, in July, the council voted not to renew Williams’ contract.
“When Scott (Williams) was there, the city was working with us to help us provide these services,” Von Nida said. “When he left, that stopped.”
Bair stopped returning Von Nida’s calls, the circuit clerk said.
Collinsville Mayor John Miller and Bair also didn’t return phone calls from a reporter, but Bair did answer an email.
“The city is currently exploring all options available regarding this space and no decision has been made. As soon as this item has been discussed in detail considering all available information, we will be prepared to provide an update accordingly,” Bair wrote.
The city is currently exploring all options available regarding this space and no decision has been made.
Interim Collinsville City Manager Mitch Bair
The Madison County Circuit Court has been holding traffic court in Collinsville for at least 35 years.
Von Nida isn’t sure why Collinsville officials want to close the satellite court. If they decide to close the courtroom, Von Nida hopes he has plenty of time to reschedule court appearances in Edwardsville.
“On short notice, the best we can do is get it all back to Edwardsville, which is perfectly workable for us,” Von Nida said. “It may be more difficult for the people in and around Collinsville to do their business with the court.”