SAN FRANCISCO—The subcommittee of the Court Facilities Working Group charged with reducing courthouse construction costs met for two days last week to trim budgets on four courthouse projects in Glenn, San Joaquin, Lake, and Fresno counties. The meeting was part of an ongoing effort under the Judicial Council’s direction to continue funding courthouse construction projects following significant cuts to the judicial branch budget.
During the meeting, the subcommittee was able to identify over $3.1 million in savings, an amount that is expected to grow as review of these projects is completed. To date, the subcommittee has been able to identify $45.2 million in budget reductions for more than the dozen projects it has reviewed. Some project teams have been directed to report back to the subcommittee with further reductions.
Earlier in the week at the Court Facilities Working Group meeting, the renovation of the downtown courthouse in Fresno was included in draft recommendations for indefinite delay of four additional courthouse projects if the Legislature directs that court construction funds finance the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach. The subcommittee decided to proceed with trimming Fresno’s budget for whenever the project is able to proceed.
“Our subcommittee was formed to identify immediate savings within the construction program, and to free up funds for much-needed projects that have been indefinitely delayed due to redirection of courthouse funds,” said Justice Jeffrey Johnson, chair of the subcommittee and Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, in Los Angeles. “All courts are expected to make cuts to their budgets without compromising safety, security, quality, and the public’s access to justice. It’s a difficult process, but the courts have willingly stepped up to the challenge, attending these meetings well-prepared with thoughtful, constructive suggestions on how to responsibly reduce costs. Our mandate is to ensure public funds are efficiently and shrewdly spent, and all of us from the courts up through the Judicial Council are serious about this charge. The money we spend belongs to the citizens of California, and we must ensure public funds are efficiently spent.”
All construction projects will eventually undergo the committee’s cost review oversight process.