Location: SCR 357
National Perspective on County Courthouse Funding
COUNTY COURTHOUSE AND COUNTY JAIL FUNDING AND OVERCROWDING SOLUTIONS
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01:02 PM -- National Perspective on County Courthouse Funding
Senator Coram called the meeting to order and offered opening remarks. The presenters in this portion of the meeting called in remotely to present to the committee.
Gordy Griller, a consultant with the National Center for State Courts, introduced himself to the committee. He spoke from Scottsdale, Arizona, and provided an overview of state and county courthouse funding in different states. Committee members received three handouts from Mr. Griller (Attachments A, B, and C).
Marcus Reinkensmeyer, Director of Court Services at the Arizona Supreme Court, introduced himself to the committee.
Clifford Ham, Principal Architect for the Judicial Council of California, introduced himself to the committee. He explained that in California, the Judicial Branch owns and maintains its own buildings after a change in state law in the early 2000s.
Mr. Griller explained that it is common nationally for counties to own and operate their own courthouse facilities. California, Hawaii, and Alaska fund their court facilities at the state level, as well as possibly Massachusetts and Connecticut. He discussed the use of bonds to fund courthouse construction projects, most of which require voter approval. He provided examples of other states' approaches to sharing costs with counties, describing in particular the cost-sharing program in Oregon. He also discussed adaptive reuse projects such as one in Polk County, Iowa, that repurposed a former department store.
Mr. Reinkensmeyer discussed efforts in Arizona to build new local court facilities, particularly in Maricopa County. He noted that there is an excise tax in place for construction and maintenance of detention facilities, but no bonds have been issued since the 1980s. He also noted that video technology can change the way counties think about court buildings.
Mr. Ham explained that California has built about 25 new Superior Court facilities in recent years to replace the most deficient buildings in the department's portfolio. He explained that these were funded with revenue bonds and a surcharge on court filings and fees. Mr. Ham discussed the construction of a large multiuse court facility in Long Beach, California through a public-private partnership. He noted that this is a long-term contract situation because it includes facility management, which can encourage the partners to better maintain the building. He explained that the private sector has an interest in this type of project because of the ability to generate long-term, steady income for their investors. He added that the Long Beach project is performance based, and penalties are imposed for various system failures.
The panelists responded to a committee questions, including several about state court administrative structures. Mr. Griller and Mr. Reinkensmeyer discussed consolidation of smaller courts and jurisdictions in some states, and the need for flexible facilities that can handle different kinds of cases.
Mr. Griller discussed how Minnesota distributes court workloads to various counties through technology.
Mr. Ham explained that California counties were required to provide facilities for the county courts until 2002, and legislation transferred the facilities to the state without cost in 2003. However, counties continue to make maintenance of effort payments, capped at 2002 levels. He continued to discuss leasing costs and the difficulty of determining the value of the buildings.
Mr. Reinkensmeyer discussed the use of pre-trial services and risk assessments in Arizona.