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FACTS & FACTORS JUSTICE COURT ENHANCEMENT FEES APRIL 15, 2013 Yuma County Justice Court.

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Presentation on theme: "FACTS & FACTORS JUSTICE COURT ENHANCEMENT FEES APRIL 15, 2013 Yuma County Justice Court."— Presentation transcript:

1 FACTS & FACTORS JUSTICE COURT ENHANCEMENT FEES APRIL 15, 2013 Yuma County Justice Court

2 Justice Court enhancement fees have not increased in 10 years, despite increased expenditures over that given period of time. The request to increase the existing fee from $10 to $20 would only serve to make it equal to that currently set in Superior Court, furthering the notion of equal justice whether sentenced in Justice Court or Superior Court. Although Justice Courts within Yuma County received $1,654,779 from the County General Fund for FY , they collected a total of $3,906,668 over that same time frame; of which $1,337,153 went back to the County General Fund. Although generating revenue is not the goal of Justice Court, there is a significant return on investment to state and local taxpayers.

3 Yuma County Justice Court Since inception in 1998, Justice Court enhancement fees have saved the County General Fund $2,822,727 in expenditures, benefiting county residents not only in the form of services provided, but also tax dollars saved.

4 JP1 Budgetary Shortfall The minimum projected shortfall between expenditures and revenue for FY in Court Enhancement is $66, for JP1 alone. However, when more closely examining caseload and collection trends, coupled with factors attributed to a lingering sluggish economy, it is conceivable the shortfall may be closer to $100,000.

5 Budgetary Shortfall If court enhancement fees are not modified and other cost savings measures employed, JP1’s fund balance is projected to “zero out” during FY JP2’s fund balance is projected to do the same during FY

6 Yuma County Justice Court Civil filings (Small Claims, Civil Lawsuits, Protective Orders & Evictions) have increased by 40% over the past 10 years in local Justice Courts. They are very labor intensive resulting in the dedicating of additional resources, thereby justifying the establishment of a civil enhancement fee. The Court already has the authority to waive or defer these fees if deemed appropriate. Yuma Justice Court Precinct 1 pays all local Justice Court costs related to the IGA involving the Initial Appearance (IA) Masters (Weekend Hearing Officers). IGA contributing courts reimburse JP1 for annualized expenditures. Allowing JP1’s enhancement fee budget to “zero out” would prove catastrophic to the IGA. Even if the proposed enhancement fee changes are granted, it would take a year or so before the impact would be fully realized.

7 Benefits Although a $10 increase in the existing enhancement fee and the adding of a $10 civil filing fee may be of concern to some, please keep in mind the benefit Justice Court collections mean to taxpayers locally in the form of added resources to local governmental agencies, offsetting the burden on local and state budgets.

8 Benefits While expenditures from the County General Fund impact all county taxpayers, including those who never come in contact with Justice Courts, enhancement fees only impact those who utilize these court services, of which 46% are not residents of Yuma County; further reducing the burden on county taxpayers. This is due to many Justice Court cases being interstate, inspection station, check point and port of entry cases. Furthermore, a significant portion of civil law suits are filed by non-Yuma County residents. In this way, enhancement fees are similar to hospitality taxes in that they reduce tax burden on local residents.

9 Action Plan Yuma Justice Court Precinct 1 has been monitoring their enhancement fund shortfall for approximately two years, keeping the County abreast of such, and believes action must be taken now. We have employed a step by step plan seeking a long-term resolution to the problem:

10 Action Plan Step1: Immediately freeze an existing Clerk II position in JP1, currently funded by court enhancement. Reevaluate the position in approximately two (2) years to determine need and enhancement budget stability.

11 Action Plan Step 2: In preparing JP1’s FY budget, request the County pick up funding under the County General Fund, the other Clerk II position currently funded under enhancement, for the period of one (1) year, with the stipulation that should the position be found non-essential, or sufficient funding not exist under enhancement, the position will be frozen at the conclusion of said year.

12 Action Plan Step 3: Request modification of Ordinance No (Enhancement Fee) to the County Board of Supervisors.

13 Action Plan Step 4: Make changes in the Initial Appearance (IA) Master weekend/holiday coverage allowing for savings in IGA costs, having a direct impact on JP1 enhancement fund expenditures. Without modification of the enhancement fee, implementation of the other cost saving measures will only serve to hurt existing operations and delay the “zeroing out” dates.

14 Options Include: Option 1: Approve proposed amendments to Ordinance No , the Justice Court Fee Schedule.

15 Options Include: Option 2: Starting FY authorize the annual expenditure of up to $100,000 annually from the County General Fund to address the budget shortfall in JP1. This amount will increase as JP2’s enhancement fund “zeros out” in FY15-16.

16 Options Include: Option 3: Make plans to terminate/eliminate a number of the Justice Court employees/positions.

17 Existing positions county-wide, currently funded by court enhancement fees: Judge Pro Tem (JP1- 1 position) Justice Court Administrator (Combined - 1 position) Small Claim/Civil Traffic Hearing Officer (JP positions) Initial Arraignment (IA) Master (JP1 - IGA) Justice Clerk II (JP1- 2 positions) Justice Clerk I (JP2 - 1 position) Data Entry Specialist (JP positions) Court Security (JP2 & JP3 - 1 position) Account Clerk II (JP positions) Computer Technician (JP positions) For FY11-12, 99.02% of the revenue generated in JP1’s court enhancement is dedicated to the funding of their abovementioned positions, an annual savings to the County General Fund. During FY11-12 and FY12-13 expenditures will exceed generated revenues.

18 Summary Please understand that if enhancement fees are not modified, a long-term resolution will not be reached without significant impact on the County General Fund or the eliminating of mission critical jobs!

19 Discussion and Questions


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