Starting in August, San Francisco Superior Court will begin regularly closing its doors and furloughing its roughly 560 employees to save money.
Though such a plan is mandated in an as-yet-unapproved state budget, San Francisco court officials said today that they’re going to start shutting down every third Wednesday –- beginning on Aug. 19 –- no matter what. (It's so L.A.)
Shutting courthouse doors and furloughing staffers are both parts of a plan developed by state legislators and the Administrative Office of the Courts to cut $393 million from the judiciary’s budget, as California faces a roughly
$24 billion $26 billion deficit. (That number just went up more. Ouch.)
These closures might only cover about 1/5 of S.F.'s problems. But there is a silver lining to that, unions ...
Chief Financial Officer Michael Yuen said the court will start regular shut downs regardless of whether a state budget mandates them because “based on historical actions,” the court predicts that the AOC could cut its budget by as much as $14 million. That cut could be smaller if the AOC is “nice,” he said. Yuen said the court shut downs will save $2.9 million between August and the start of the next fiscal year in July 2010.
Because the shut-down savings make up only one-fifth of the deficit the court may face, Yuen said they’ll have to look elsewhere for more savings. But that also means “we’re not balancing our budget on the backs of labor,” Yuen said. He added that the court has been negotiating with the unions recently.
The ramifications of court shut downs in San Francisco and elsewhere would be widespread. S.F. court Chief Executive Officer Gordon Park-Li said clerks are already blocking out every third Wednesday after Aug. 19.
The shut down day would be treated as a “legal holiday,” Park-Li and Presiding Judge James McBride said. Any legal deadlines would be pushed back by a day, including those for prosecutors weighing whether to file charges against someone, and prisoners could remain incarcerated for an extra day as well, they said.
— Evan Hill