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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hiring freeze at Fourth Judicial District announced

The Fourth Judicial District, serving Hennepin County, in a press release today announced an immediate hiring freeze along with changes in court hours and operations in response to an anticipated budget shortfall. The court projects a $1.4 million budget deficit for its current fiscal year which ends in June 2008.

The hiring freeze reportedly will result in staff shortages throughout the court, requiring a reduction in services. Some of the changes that will impact the public include:

-- Walk-in counter and telephone services will be curtailed Wednesday afternoons, 1:30-4:30 pm, beginning Jan. 2, 2008. For example, citizens will no longer be able to pay traffic tickets in person, request copies of court files, or receive updates on the status of cases via telephone on Wednesday afternoons at all locations. Court hearings and trials will not be affected and will continue as usual.

-- Conciliation Court calendars will be reduced by one-third, resulting in some delay in scheduling hearings.

-- A program that provides supervised visitation services to noncustodial parents and their children in Family Court will be halted.

-- The court will no longer provide arbitrators for Alternative Dispute Resolution in Civil Court.

-- The court will no longer conduct criminal record checks for the public; members of the public will be referred to the public access website where this information is available.

Several factors are contributing to the anticipated shortfall, according to the release. The Hennepin County Court received $900,000 less than its budget required to cover salary and fringe benefit increases and funding for positions required by a new information system. Some of the new money that was appropriated to the state’s trial courts for the Fiscal Year 2008-2009 biennium was earmarked for special purposes, making it unavailable to cover increases in basic operating costs like employee salaries and insurance.

The District had hoped to rely on vacancy savings to help cover its shortfall. However, year-to-date vacancy rates have been much lower than expected, the release said.

1 comment:

5 Tool said...

And then there is the shortfall of revenue projected from the "stop on red" camera tickets. That was supposed to be a good chunk of the money.