Mike Cruz and Lori Fowler, Staff Writers
Posted: 12/11/2012 12:41:53 PM PST

Barstow, Needles and Big Bear Lake will be closed next spring as San Bernardino County’s court system continues to struggle with the loss of more than $22 million in state funding.

The cutbacks are the second in a number of cost-reduction measures intended to close an operating shortfall by the end of this fiscal year.

As part of the closure of all four courtrooms in the Barstow courthouse, 22 positions will be eliminated, according to court officials. The Needles and Big Bear courthouses, which were recently limited to three days per month, will close effective May 6, officials said.

The first phase of operational changes announced in July, call for the closing of the Chino courthouse on Jan. 1, reductions of the court clerk’s office hours countywide, and reductions of administrative staff, among other things.

Three retired judges, who were recalled to handle some cases at West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga, are also being released this month, officials said.

However, even with those and other newly announced changes, the court still projects a deficit in 2013-14 of more than $13 million.

“Even after this phase of cuts there will still be a big hole, and we’re looking for solutions,” said Stephen Nash, court executive officer for San Bernardino County Superior Court.

In total, the cuts and their related actions will result in the reduction of about 44 staff members and save a projected $5.3 million per year, according to court officials.

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