SD12 - Operational and Capital Funding for District and Circuit Courts

Executive Summary:
Courts are not required to cover their costs, although they generate revenue for the State and localities through fines, fees, and taxes. Statutes require localities to provide courtrooms and office space for court personnel, and many supplement State-funded staff salaries.

In FY 2008, the State spent $199.5 million more to operate courts than it received in fee revenue (not counting taxes and special fund revenues). Localities spent at least $10.6 million more than they received in fee and fine revenue (not counting non-personnel costs such as construction). The Judicial Council of Virginia may wish to review court fees and recommend adjustments to recoup a greater portion of costs.

Most localities routinely address courthouse problems, but some localities have addressed problems only after a court order. Judges should routinely be consulted on courthouse needs.

Costs for 43 courthouse projects completed since 2005 or currently underway exceed $720 million, funded by local revenues. A State-authorized fee for courthouse construction covers only a small portion of these costs, and statutory restrictions further reduce the fee’s effectiveness.