Questionable repair costs make court wish list

September 16, 2011 8:42:23 PM PDT
At a time of tightening budgets, those who administer the state's court system are facing tough questions about their wish list for new spending.

It's like a letter to Santa Claus, but it's not yet Christmas: In this fiscal year's list are more than 4,000 items for courthouse repairs and maintenance costs.

Some judges are questioning this wish list in view of court closures and staff layoffs.

In February, state legislators had a field day with grilling judicial branch administrators from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Those legislators were outraged at the $8,000 cost of removing gum from the Sacramento courthouse entrance, and the $45,000 to repair a courtroom bench in San Diego.

Every year the judicial council, which runs the judiciary, approves work orders to maintain California's courthouses. This year's wish list fills 213 pages and totals $700 million.

In northern San Diego County, the AOC wants to pave a dirt parking lot at one of its courthouses for $210,500.

Judge Runston Maino says it's a big waste of taxpayer dollars.

"The AOC determines that we are going to spend $210,500 to pave a lot we don't own, that will never own, and that we have a month-to-month tenancy on," Maino said. "That just makes absolutely no sense to me at all."

Some of the other 4,200 proposed courthouse projects include:

-- $51,999 for an ergonomic review of the bench and clerk stations in Amador County.

-- $424,776 to renew restroom fixtures in Sonoma County.

-- $21,500 to change light bulbs in Los Angeles County.

-- $51,999 for new ladders in Sutter County.

-- $30,495 for new carpeting in the San Diego Courthouse filing room.

The AOC responded to ABC7 by email on Friday and said the items have different priorities. Only the top priorities have been approved, the AOC said.

The AOC said the repair costs are rough estimates and that the judicial council will go through the entire list next month.


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