Nevada County’s long fought-for renovation of its courthouse has been indefinite delayed via a decision by the Judicial Council, the policy-making body for the state’s judicial branch.
In addition to Nevada County’s, the council voted today to indefinitely delay four courthouse construction projects located in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Fresno counties, pending the outcome of the state budget for fiscal year 2013-2014, according to the Judicial Council’s spokeswoman, Teresa Ruano.
The decision to suspend those previously-green-lit projects stems from Governor Jerry Brown’s budget, that reclaimed $550 million from the general fund originally committed in 2007 to Long Beach’s new Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, the council noted in a statement.
The long-anticipated courthouse is scheduled to open in fall 2013, when the first annual payment will come due for the project.
With Long Beach’s funding source cut off, funding for the project nearing completion instead must be diverted from statewide courthouse construction fund, where Nevada County’s and the other three projects were funded from.
“Our cost reduction efforts are scouring every project for opportunities to free up funding that could keep some projects alive in the face of dwindling funds,” said Justice Brad Hill, chair of the Court Facilities Working Group and Administrative Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, in a statement.
In addition to using court construction money to help make payments on the Long Beach courthouse, the Governor’s budget proposes using another $200 million of court construction funds in the coming fiscal year to shore up court operations, and postpones repayment of another $90 million borrowed from construction funds two years ago. “We have watched as more than a billion dollars has been taken from the construction program. We don’t know what to plan for, or what lies around the corner.,” Hill said. “I hope that at some point in the coming year we will have some certainty, so that we can move forward to build safe, secure, and economical courthouses. The citizens of our state deserve nothing less.”
The council’s action Thursday halts all activity on the four projects but makes an exception that would allow site acquisition to proceed for the Sacramento courthouse in the current fiscal year. Further progress will wait until courthouse construction funds become available in the future.
Because of budget uncertainties, the council also voted to delay until its meeting in February consideration of related facilities measures—on funding for facility modifications and maintenance costs for new courthouses.
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