San Mateo County Superior Court Announces Painful Budget Reductions and Service Cuts in Response to Recently Enacted State Budget

South San Francisco, CA  August 5, 2020 h/t to Robert Riechel, Riechel Reports – original source SMC Press Release

SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA

COUNTY OF SAN MATEO

400 COUNTY CENTER

Redwood City, CA 94063-1655

 

 

                                                                                          August 5, 2020

 

Court Announces Painful Budget Reductions and Service Cuts in Response to Recently Enacted State Budget

 

As a result of the recently adopted State budget, which included over $54 billion in reductions primarily caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Mateo Superior Court announced an initial round of layoffs and mandatory furloughs as a partial solution to estimated budget reductions of $4.5 million.

 

Professional, management, and unrepresented employees will be asked to take mandatory furloughs of 5%, or roughly one day per month.

 

Because the largest group of employees, represented by SEIU Local 521, did not accept the Court’s 5% mandatory furlough and elimination of term employment offer as a means of avoiding layoffs, the Court was forced to give notice of 20 positions subject to layoffs. All 20 positions will be terminated by August 28, 2020.

 

To further ensure that it ends the current fiscal year with a balanced budget, the Court also imposed a hiring freeze, reduced its non-personnel budget by over $800,000, or 10%, and is projecting to spend down all of its modest reserves.

 

“The pandemic emergency left us with little time to plan and absorb the enormous revenue losses occurring statewide. We had no choice but to cut our budget, impose furloughs and issue these layoff notices,” said Superior Court Executive Officer Neal Taniguchi. “It’s possible that the State may receive bailout funding from the federal government in the fall, but the State imposed our budget reductions effective July 1, which left us with no choice but to act as quickly as possible.”

 

The pandemic and the social distancing requirements needed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 had already caused the Court to substantially limit jury trials, curtail court hearings, and limit its operations to reduce the number of people in its court facilities. However, as a result of these budget reductions, the Court must continue limiting services indefinitely.  The budget reduction and resulting layoffs force the court to cut public hours by 50%.  Additionally, court office services will be by appointment only; Online chat and telephone services will be limited to the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m…

 

The Court will also suspend Family Court Service appointments at its South San Francisco Courthouse, as well as close the Clerk’s Office and the Self-Help Center.

 

The public can expect significant delays in obtaining judgments and writs in civil and family law.  There will also be delays in processing electronically filed documents and fulfilling records requests in all case types. The public can also expect exceedingly long wait times and delays in obtaining appointments to file documents in cases. Such delays may approach the magnitude of those experienced during the Great Recession of eight years ago.

 

Taniguchi further warned that the next year, Fiscal Year 2021-22, could be worse.

 

“If the economy does not improve markedly, we could be facing additional layoffs and continued furloughs, resulting in further court closures, and curtailment of services, “he said.

 

For further information, contact the Court at (650) 261-5016.

 

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