Two months after the death of its presiding judge, Dominic Frank, the East Liverpool Municipal Court faces an uncertain future–one that has city officials divided.

In a recent letter to Columbiana county commissioners, East Liverpool Mayor Greg Bricker called on them to set in motion a plan that would terminate the city's municipal court, merging it with the Columbiana County municipal court in Lisbon.

In the letter, obtained by 21 News, Mayor Bricker stated the decision to or not to consolidate addresses to questions: "Does the current caseload justify a full time local municipal court?" he wrote. "Can the city justify the costs of administering it own municipal court?"

Further in the letter, Mayor Bricker stated, in his opinion, that consolidation is the clear answer.

"[The court] is imposing a hardship on this city," Bricker wrote.

Though, for other city officials like the clerk of courts, Candy Page, the answer is not so clear.

"I don't understand why they would want to get rid of our court and close it," she said.

Bricker stated in the letter that the court's current caseload doesn't justify its annual costs, which totaled a little over $287,000 in 2021.

He said the total number of cases the court dealt with in 2021 was 875 court cases, but Page said the mayor's number excludes all administrative cases where defendants appeared before a judge, as well other cases where  fines were paid or settled outside of court.

According to the Ohio Supreme Court, the court's total number of cases in 2021 totaled 1,190 traffic cases, 840 misdemeanor cases and 481 civil cases for a grand total of 2,511 court cases.

"I just feel a lot of people will be left by the wayside," Page said.

She added that the consolidation will impact East Liverpool's drug court program. 

"Our city has been going down for years," Page said, "To me, not having our court is just going to make it worse." 

Chief of Police John Lane says court consolidation would further deplete his already understaffed force, who'd have to travel close to half an hour to file charges, traffic tickets, consult with prosecutors and more. 

"We're barely covering the street right now," Lane said. "So its hard to provide services to the city it expects." 

Lane said the department is severely understaffed at the moment, with a total of 12 officers on the force, including himself. 

"That's going to be a big impact on our budget as far as overtime goes," he said.

Instead of going to the municipal court, locate two floors above the East Liverpool police department, officers would have to travel nearly 30-minutes to the Lisbon courthouse. Lane said this would double overtime pay for his force, something the department can't afford.

Page agrees.

"It's going to be a terrible inconvenience for all our police departments," Page said.

21 News put in several calls to the Mayor Wednesday and went to his office but were turned away. When asked to answer questions on-camera or provide us with a statement, the mayors office declined.