Court not hurt by cuts |

Court not hurt by cuts

Nevada County’s Superior Court won’t suffer from a statewide budget cut as other counties probably will.

In Nevada County, the 3.7-percent cut amounts to $156,626.

“We can absorb that,” Michael Glisson, Nevada County’s assistant court executive officer, said Monday. “Nobody here will notice any decrease in services.”

Neighboring Placer County can’t say the same.

Placer County Superior Court’s $375,000 cut means it will have to reduce internal security, travel, transportation and training, and courtrooms and offices will close at 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m., John Mendes, Placer County’s court executive officer, said.

Placer County has eliminated court reporters in family and civil law cases, and plans to institute a voluntary time-off program for employees to save on payroll expenses, he said.

“We’re looking at all our expenses and reducing things like telephone calls,” Mendes said. “Long distance calls – we’re not going to be able to make ’em.”

For Nevada County, the budget cut means the court will forgo buying computer equipment or new furniture, or “maybe we don’t send so many people to training,” Glisson said.

Also, several new employees were hired late in the year, which saved money for this fiscal year.

Nevada County’s court is planning on $6.6 million in expenditures and anticipating $6.9 million in financing sources for 2002-03, Glisson said.

Nevada County’s trial-court personnel includes six judges, one commissioner, an “appointed quasi-judicial officer who cannot sentence people” shared with Sierra County, and 65 employees.

“We’re open every day of the year except holidays and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in two locations, Nevada City and Truckee, ” Glisson said.

The court saves money on the cost of security because the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office “allows us to use Barrows Private Security on the front doors,” Glisson said.

A $250,000 surplus gives us a little cushion, Glisson said.

“That means your court has planned well,” Lynn Holton, public information officer for the Judicial Council of California, said about the Nevada County court’s fiscal condition.

The policy-making organization – made up of judges, attorneys and two legislators – sent a memo to each county’s courts in August alerting them that negotiations with the governor and the state Legislature had resulted in the 3.7 percent funding cut.

“It could have been a much deeper cut,” Holton said.

The budget for California’s judicial branch is about $2.5 billion.

“The cut was the same for all courts across the board,” she said. “But some courts have planned well.”

Glisson is optimistic for this fiscal year, but wonders if the future will bring more cuts.

“We’re OK,” he said. “But next year, will we get cut another three percent?”

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