Lori Fowler, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/07/2012 07:06:17 AM PDT

By the end of the fiscal year, the reserves for the San Bernardino Superior Court system will have plunged from $32.8 million to $8.2 million.

And it will get worse.

Come June 30, 2014, the reserve fund will be close to $800,000.

“That cap is just too little,” said Stephen Nash, the county’s Superior Court executive officer. “That would not be enough to get us through a month of payroll.”

The disappearing reserves fund – also know as a “rainy day” account – has been attributed to two different factors: forced reductions and new state laws.

The state Legislature and Judicial Council required courts to pay for their operations out of their reserves for one year, Nash said.

“We were already using our reserves to offset some of the cuts we had,” he said. “But this year they reached in and took a big chunk of our reserves.”

Reductions in future funds come from a new state law that says courts cannot have more than 1 percent of their state allocation for their reserves come July 2014.

This is a stark contrast from just three years ago when county courts had $45.6 million in reserves.

And an even bigger difference than the mid-2000s, when there was additional revenue flowing in and the county courts were able to save.

“They were very prudent and careful,” Nash said.

“They didn’t go out and hire people. They set aside money for a rainy day and now it’s pouring.”

Ideas

Judge Marsha Slough, who was promoted to presiding judge of the Superior Court of San Bernardino County on Sept. 1, is tasked with finding ways to save money.

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