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Trial court revenue drop attributed to fewer cops on streets

Published 10:01pm Thursday, September 8, 2011

ST. JOSEPH — The Berrien County Trial Court is projecting a $500,000 decrease in revenue this fiscal year, Berrien County Trial Court Administrator Brian Ray told county commissioners Thursday.
Ray said the first half of this fiscal year has seen revenues around $480,000 less than the first half of the previous year.
“As the year goes on, we could see a huge influx,” he said. “But based on our projection, we’ll be a half a million shy by the end of the year.”
Chief Judge Al Butzbaugh said the decrease can be attributed to a decrease in the number of tickets county officers are writing.
“Traffic citations are down. There are less police officers, more calls taking the officers off the roads,” Butzbaugh said. “It’s not simply people’s inability to pay. It’s also police enforcement.”
John LaMore, 12th District commissioner, said he has noticed another reason for the few number of tickets.
“People are conscious of the the price of gas, so people are driving slower,” he said.
Butzbaugh also reported to commissioners that the Michigan Supreme Court’s administrative office released its study that aimed to determine the number of trial court judges each county needs. The state could lose as many as 45 judges as a result of the results of the study.
But Berrien County will not be one of the county’s losing judges.
“We were not classified with too many or too few judges,” Butzbaugh said. “They came up with us needing 10.8 judges, and we have 11.”
The Judicial Resources Recommendations study was based on caseload of judges and population of each of the counties.
Butzbaugh also reported that he, Sheriff Paul Bailey and Prosecutor Art Cotter re-signed a four-year jail management plan, designed to reduce jail overcrowding. The agreement was first introduced in January 2008 and was successful in its first four years, according to Butzbaugh.

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