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Group wants cut to courthouse fund

Posted: July 26, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 26, 2011 1:57 a.m.
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A California court budget group recommended a $60 million cut to the courthouse construction fund last Friday, possibly affecting the proposed $58 million Santa Clarita courthouse.

The $60 million cut was recommended by the Trial Court Budget Working Group to help pay daily court costs for the Judicial Branch of California, said Philip Carrizosa, spokesman for the Judicial Council of California Courts’ Administrative Office of the Courts.

“We don’t know yet how this will affect individual courthouse projects, such as the one planned for Santa Clarita,” Carrizosa said. “But our plans are to continue with negotiations with Los Angeles County to secure a site for that courthouse.”

This cut comes after the state borrowed $310 million from the courthouse construction fund and took $350 million from the judicial branch’s general budget to help balance the state budget.

The state has not said when it will give the $310 million back to the courthouse-construction fund, Carrizosa said.

According to Carrizosa, members of the Court Facilities Working Group will decide how to proceed with court construction in light of the recent cuts.

The California Legislature approved the courthouse-construction fund in 2008. Court-user fees were supposed to generate $5 billion over 5 years for the fund, but the fund has less than $100 million in it now, Carrizosa said.

Currently, 41 courthouses are waiting to be built or updated by the courthouse construction fund. Sixteen of those projects are projected to cost over $100 million each.

The courthouse construction fund should get bigger as more court fees come in, Carrizosa said.

“We are going to proceed as far as we can, given the available funding,” he said. “But how far that funding will take us remains to be seen.”

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