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Courts: No budget needs for new facility
Courthouse won't affect 2014 finances
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County’s courts don’t expect the new courthouse to impact their budgets in 2014.

The new courthouse, which is scheduled to open at the start of 2015, wasn’t a primary factor discussed during finance committee meetings Friday with the courts and court administration.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office will start hiring employees to staff the courthouse in 2014 so those workers can be trained prior to the opening, which will add to next year’s personnel costs.

For the courts, an anticipated expense of the physical move has been budgeted separately from the annual budget, with the costs coming from 1-cent sales tax revenue.

The new courthouse and jail facilities were approved within a referendum for the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, in November 2011.

Any possible new expenses associated with operating those buildings would take effect in 2015.

Overall, Forsyth anticipates about $94.1 million in revenue for the 2014 general fund.

The past two weeks of meetings with department heads and elected officials has allowed a starting place to discuss individual numbers and begin work on balancing the budget.

Department heads and others detailed about $9 million in requests for new items, positions or services on top of about $93.5 million expected in expenses to maintain the current service level.

County commissioners will review a preliminary budget presentation June 11. The finance committee, which includes three commissioners, has announced its intent not to raise the millage rate.

Superior and state courts in Forsyth made their requests Friday, including a few new budget items.

State Court Judge Leslie Abernathy-Maddox said the court hopes to hire a calendar clerk to schedule criminal cases, a job that is currently split among prosecutors.

“By having this position, it’s taking that position away from the solicitor’s office so that the court is actually in charge of setting court dates and there’s no argument of bias or prejudice,” Abernathy-Maddox said. “Not that there has been, but the goal is to make sure there’s no appearance of impropriety.”

Superior Court currently uses two clerks for this work for three judges, she said.

Superior Court also requested some personnel for grant-funded accountability courts, if that money is received, said David Gruen, the county’s finance director.

Grant applications for a misdemeanor drug court and mental health court are pending, and Gruen said such funding could help launch those alternative programs.