State Courthouse Construction Costs Reassessed

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Thirteen California courthouse construction projects are heading for the chopping block April 24. The Judicial Council of California will look at recommendations to reassess the construction projects for cost-cutting or reducing their planned size.

Justice Brad Hill, chair of the court facilities working group, will present the recommendations aimed at significantly lowering the costs and continuing with 25 active projects. Some options may include significantly reducing square footage, undertaking renovations instead of new construction, evaluating lease options and user cheaper construction methods, according to the courts. A list of affected courthouses here.

 “After years of budget cuts in the courts, we now need to look more carefully at whether we can build smaller court projects and still meet court needs, or how else we may be able to save money,” Hill said. He is a justice on California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal. Even money the court thought it would get specifically for construction has been cut.

In 2008 a state Senate bill authorized up to $5 billion in lease-revenue bonds for construction, using court fees, penalties and assessments rather than taxpayer revenues from the general fund. But in 2009 the state borrowed $1.1 billion in funding originally designated for courthouse construction. The money was swept into the general fund or redirected to court operations.

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