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The gavel falls on Fairport Village Court


Fairport’s village court is set to adjourn for good at the end of the year after elected officials approved a local law to abolish it.

The law abolishes not just the court but three part time jobs: an elected village justice, an acting village justice, and the court clerk. Perinton Town Court is set to handle all civil, criminal, and traffic cases that would have been heard in Fairport village court, effective Jan. 1.

“It’s fiscally responsible,” said Mayor Julie Domaratz. “We’re trying to do what’s right for village taxpayers.”

In 2021, the Fairport village court handled 218 cases — most of them traffic violations. Among them were 117 parking violations and four trucking law violations. The court saw just 16 criminal prosecutions and eight small claims matters.

To village leaders, the caseloads weren’t enough to justify the court’s continued existence.

By shifting the cases to Perinton town court, Fairport can save $70,000 a year, according to a countywide shared services plan developed by the county in 2017. The plan called for combining the two courts, and in 2018 village officials started on the process before letting it fall off of their agenda.

Statewide, there hasn’t been a huge movement toward abolishing or creating town courts, said Peter Baynes, executive director of the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials. But over the past 10 years, a handful of villages have shut down their courts.

A couple villages created new ones.

In 2014, Brockport restored its village court, making it the first village in New York to do so since 2012, when Montebello in Rockland County established its own village court. But Brockport has some major differences from Fairport that factored into village officials’ decision.

“It’s definitely a local decision where local factors come into play,” Baynes said.

Brockport’s population of 7,104 is already larger than Fairport’s, which is 5,501. When SUNY Brockport begins its fall session, the west-side village’s population effectively doubles.

The large number of college students in Brockport also leads to more court cases — everything from disorderly conduct charges or code violation cases against the owners of the village’s student-oriented rental properties.

Village officials also argued that Brockport lost out on substantial revenue from certain fines when the Sweden town court handled its cases.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at [email protected].