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Placer Sentinel

Placer County Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Baseline Budget

Aug 05, 2020 12:00AM ● By Superior Court of California, County of Placer

Placer County, CA (MPG). Pursuant to Government Code Section 68511.7 and California Rules of Court, rule 10.620(f)(1), the Superior Court of California, County of Placer is providing 1) notice of the annual budget allocation to the trial court by the Judicial Council and 2) a summary of the proposed baseline budget for Fiscal Year 2020/2021 for public review and comment.

The court’s fiscal year runs from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. The court will accept written comments on the proposed FY 2020/2021 baseline budget until 4:00 pm on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. All comments received by the court prior to the August 12, 2020 deadline will be reviewed and considered. It is not anticipated that any formal response to the comments received will be provided to the contributing party.

Comments may be submitted electronically to [email protected]

or be mailed to:

Superior Court of California, County of Placer

Attn: Court Administration

P.O. Box 619072

Roseville, CA 95661

The Superior Court of California, County of Placer’s proposed baseline budget reflects funding allocations made by the Judicial Council on July 24, 2020. These allocations included:

ï,· A reduction of $110,000, or approximately 15%, in Dependency Court Appointed Counsel funding. This reduction is the result of declining relative workload and resulting funding needs for appointed counsel in juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency proceedings.

ï,· An ongoing reduction to general court operating revenue of $1.4 million, representing the court’s share of statewide Trial Court reductions of $168 million.

ï,· Funding to offset current year employee health and retirement cost increases.

ï,· One-time funding of $238,000 to address COVID-19 workload impacts. This funding represents the court’s proportional share of $25 million for these impacts. The Judicial Council’s action holds back $25 million in funding for these impacts pending further analysis and action.

More information on these items can be found in reports submitted to the Judicial Council, specifically the Judicial Council’s 2020-2021 Trial Court Base Allocations and Judicial Council's 2020-2021 Dependency Court Appointed Counsel Allocations. When reviewing the allocation recommendations for the COVID-19 backlog funding, please note that $25 million was allocated at this time with $25 million to be allocated later subject to a change in methodology.

The reductions in State funding are further compounded by two local factors. First, the court made changes to its service models for preparing the official court record of proceedings and in child custody mediation. These changes, which were underway before the COVID-19 pandemic, increase court costs by $560,000 annually. Second, the pandemic has resulted in the postponement of thousands of court hearings and delayed collection practices on court fines and fees. In addition, the court has mandated remote appearances for most civil and family law proceedings and waived fees for these appearances. In total, the court anticipates local revenue will decline by approximately $600,000 when compared to the prior year.

Taken together, declining local revenue, reductions in state funding, and anticipated cost increases create a budget deficit, baring action to remediate, of approximately $2.2 million.

The court’s FY 2020/2021 baseline budget closes this deficit through a number of one-time and ongoing measures. The court’s budget includes the elimination of sixteen (16) positions across all classification levels, effective on or before July 1, 2020. These reductions will have a profound impact on the court’s ability to provide service to its community. The court anticipates that backlogs will develop and court users should anticipate a reduction in overall service levels from the court.

The court has received grant funding to continue its efforts to create a digital court. The proposed budget includes grant funding to digitize court records and to complete the court’s remote appearance and digital evidence sharing product. The budget also includes funding, via the COVID-19 backlog funding, to temporarily restore 3.25 full time equivalent positions. Should the court receive equal funding from the second $25 million in backlog funding, an additional 3.25 full time equivalents can be temporarily restored through June 2021.

Finally, the court has instituted mandatory furloughs for all non-judicial staff equal to one day per month, resulting in savings of approximately $580,000. The aforementioned changes modify the proportion of the court’s budget dedicated to personnel costs when compared to the prior year. Personnel costs represent 80.9% of the court’s planned expenditures in FY 2020/2021 compared to 74.6% in FY 2019/2020.

The use of ongoing position elevations, temporary position freezes, one-time funds, and furloughs, results in a balanced FY 2020/2021 budget. The court is relying on one-time solutions to reach this balanced budget and will need to consider further reductions if funding and/or local revenues are not restored to pre-pandemic levels by the start of FY 2021/2022.

Despite the severe budget situation and the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the court maintains its focus on transitioning to a digital court. In the upcoming fiscal year, the court will continue to refine the now expanded video appearance capabilities, digitize case records that pre-dated the implementation of the court’s modern case management system, implement a more robust electronic filing system for the public to replace the interim system implemented in response to COVID-19, and implement electronic filing pilots with justice system partners.

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