A workgroup of a dozen county clerks and judges published recommendations on Friday for stabilizing unreliable revenue sources for the courts and clerks systems.
One not very new idea for the courts: move judges' salaries into the state's general revenue fund and out of what has proven a volatile trust fund.
"It’s a constitutional guarantee that the state makes to the people of the state," said Lisa Goodner, state courts administrator.
The Supreme Court certifies the need for judges for the Legislature, which gets to decide the number of judges to prescribe. The report argues "it would be inappropriate to tie that process to the revenue in a trust fund."
The courts have struggled to support their budgets as mortgage foreclosure filings decline. Chief Justice Charles Canady has frequently asked for mult-million dollar loan transfers to fund basic operations due to the shortfall. About 83 percent of the entire courts system is funded by fees collected in the trial courts.
According to the workgroup's report, clerks and courts could share a new trust fund funded by fines and fees to be administered each month by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. The "core court system" trust fund would then be divvied into the clerks' trust fund and the start courts' trust fund to pay for operations.