5-day furloughs, layoffs at courts
Budget cut nearly $25m from last year’s level
CORRECTION: This story has been changed to clarify who is covered by the court’s furlough program. The original story indicated judges, clerks, registers, chief probation officers, and managers would be required to take five furlough days where they would work but not be paid. Court officials say only managers would be required to take the furloughs, while judges, clerks, and registers would be urged to take the furloughs voluntarily. Unionized court workers would not take furloughs.
To reduce spending by nearly $25 million, the Massachusetts court system is urging judges and requiring manages to take five furlough days, closing court houses, and moving workers out of leased space.
Officials said 250 to 300 layoffs will also be needed depending on the success of an early retirement plan and other initiatives in reducing costs.
The furlough plans calls for all court managers to take five furlough days where they will work but not be paid. It urges judges, clerks, and registers to follow suit. Unionized court employees would not participate in the furlough program. For each furlough day taken, an employee will receive one additional vacation day. Court officials said Supreme Judicial Court justices and chief justices have already committed to the furlough program.
The furloughs and layoffs are the latest attempt by the state’s court system to match expenditures with revenues. The courts have encouraged early retirements and had a hiring freeze in place since July 1, 2008, which has gradually shaved the number of employees from 7,565 to 6,864, a reduction of 701, or 9.3 percent.
Court officials say an additional 48 employees have accepted a retirement incentive package since July 1.
A court relocation committee has recommended a number of courthouse closings and consolidations to save money. Officials say they will hold public hearings on the proposals, but are already implementing one – moving Robert Mulligan, the chief justice for administration and management, and his staff out of leased space at Center Plaza into the nearby John Adams Courthouse at an estimated savings of $1.5 million.The House earlier had approved a budget amendment that would have moved the court’s administrative offices to the Charlestown District Court. The House, which has been at odds with Mulligan over management of the courts and the state’s probation service, had estimated the move to Charlestown would save about $3 million.
The committee also recommended moving the Land Court, currently operating out of leased space at 226 Causeway St., to the Suffolk County Courthouse. Several district courts, including those in Gloucester, Hingham, Wareham, Leominster, and Westborough, could be consolidated with other facilities. For a full list of the recommendations, click here.