LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Courts across the state continue to weather budget cuts, and the Lake County Superior Court also is working with less resources as a result of the recession and California's budget issues.
Krista LeVier, the court executive officer, said the Lake County Superior Court's budget for the 2013-14 budget year is $3.6 million.
That's about $1.7 million less than the court's budget in 2008-09, LeVier said.
As this current budget year started, there was a small amount of new money for courts at the state level, she said.
However, LeVier that money didn't help Lake County's court, which actually ended up with about $20,000 less in funding than last fiscal year.
“In the big picture, this year we will probably be OK,” said LeVier.
One time money the superior court was able to save last year should help it in the coming year, she explained.
LeVier said the court doesn't expect it will have to make any staff or service reductions this year.
However, going into the 2014-15 fiscal year, if there is no new money, more reductions may have to be made, she said.
Because of the deep budget cuts over the last five years, there already have been significant staff reductions, LeVier said.
In the 2008-09 fiscal year, the court had 43 employees, LeVier said. Today, the court has 29 employees, with the reductions coming mostly through attrition.
The reduction in funds also has prompted court officials to take measures like moving all of the criminal courts to Lakeport and rearranging other services.
Having all of the criminal calendar in Lakeport has made things more efficient, which is helpful in light of the reduced staff, said LeVier.
The court expects to have as much as 1,500 square feet of new space at its Clearlake court after the Lake County Sheriff's Office moves it substation out of that building, LeVier said.
The state Administrative Office of the Courts wants the full footprint of the building, and arrangements have been ongoing to move the sheriff's office substation into another space, according to the County Administrative Office.
LeVier said the court plans to use the space for its self-help center, which formerly had been located in a rented space off-site, which was closed due to budget cuts.
The self-help staff is now in the Clearlake location but spread out across the building, she said. There are two part-time attorneys and the equivalent of a third, full-time position to help people who don't have attorneys file paperwork for certain types of cases.
At the same time, Lake County is still on the list of counties set to get a new Lakeport courthouse, she said
“The project is still moving forward as much as any of the others,” LeVier said.
She said the courthouse projects are on hold this year because the governor and the Legislature have shifted money from the courthouse construction fund to other operations.
A state committee is looking at the projects for ways to cut costs, said LeVier. “We're going through that process now.”
If everything goes well, LeVier said the Lake County Superior Court's project could be funded for working drawings next year.
Email Elizabeth Larson at [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.