The San Mateo County Superior Court announced on Wednesday that it would cut $4.5 million from its annual budget — an unavoidable decision that means furloughs or layoffs for employees and poorer service for virtually everyone who comes in contact with local courts.
Court officials say the cuts are the result of $54 billion in pandemic-related budget reductions at the state level.
Most affected are court personnel. Management, professional workers and those unrepresented by a union will take a 5 percent furlough, which amounts to about one less paid day a month. SEIU Local 521 did not accept terms of the furlough. The courts in turn issued layoff notices to 20 employees who are scheduled to lose their jobs on Aug. 28.
A press release announcing the cuts states the public can expect “exceedingly long wait times” and “significant delays” across a range of court functions. Because of the pandemic, the court was already limiting office hours and jury trials and now those limitations will continue indefinitely, officials say.
“The pandemic emergency left us with little time to plan and absorb the enormous revenue losses occurring statewide,” said Superior Court Executive Officer Neal Taniguchi in a prepared statement. “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.”
Taniguchi warned things could get even worse. He is projecting further budget cuts in 2021-22.