This is not news for those who’ve been keeping tabs on the budget conditions of LA Superior Court. LA Superior Court Presiding Judge Charles McCoy is set to begin laying of hundreds of court employees next month. An article in this morning’s Daily Journal lists some pretty scary numbers.
- 330 employees could be laid off beginning in March
- The current budget deficit of $79 million is projected to balloon up to $139 million by 2013
- Come September another 500 employees could be laid off
- By 2013 if things don’t improve LA Superior could see 1,800 people laid off
- 180 courtrooms could be closed over the next three years
And although Judge McCoy has been a proponent of redirecting court construction funds back into the trial court fund to keep courts running without layoffs or closures, that proposal has been met with as much opposition as the AOC can muster. You know. The kind of opposition the AOC would throw up if Jesus himself showed up and asked to see the AOC’s financial books.
One of the more interesting moments in the article comes when it’s revealed that the majority of the layoffs may come from the court’s traffic division. A division that processes millions of dollars for the court.
Court officials in Los Angeles said they have yet to determine which departments, courthouses or positions would be affected by layoffs, but a study it commissioned in December indicated that initial layoffs could hit employees in traffic-related services exclusively because of union agreements dictating that layoffs affect the most junior employees first.
“These employees tend to be concentrated in traffic-related services, meaning that any layoffs would come perhaps exclusively from operations relating to traffic,” said the report, compiled by Roy Weinstein and Stevan Porter of the Los Angeles-based economics research and consulting firm Micronomics. The move to cut 330 employees is expected to save the court roughly $3.4 million in partial-year savings. The fiscal year ends in June.
Traffic employees include judicial assistants, filing window clerks, cashiers, call center clerks and administrators. Junior employees are placed throughout the court system, not just traffic, said court spokeswoman Vania Stuelp.
Losses in traffic-related services, which generate millions of dollars annually in fines and fees for the state, could mean a delay in processing those revenues.
“A lot of the fines and fees collections comes through there and if that gets slowed down, it’s going to have an adverse effect on revenues,” Weinstein said.
In 2009-10, the court collected $212 million in traffic and criminal penalty assessments.
A slowdown in processing those fines and fees could be an “unintended consequence” of the layoffs, said Jack Kyser, founding economist of the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
“It’s hard to say how much it would slow it down, but definitely, there would be a slowdown in the money coming in,” he said.
So if the AOC continues ahead with funding new court construction, then LA Superior is forced to lay off hundreds in a department that generates millions for it. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Then again, we are talking about the AOC.