Colorado plan to shift costs for court facilities to state killed in committee

Should court facilities be the responsibility of state government or local/county? Many states have provisions that the county “shall provide the physical facilities” for the courts. A Colorado plan (SB 15) to shift the responsibility to the state and away from county governments, which initially looked to have support in that state’s senate, was killed last week.

Current law (C.R.S. 13-3-108(1)) provides

The board of county commissioners in each county shall continue to have the responsibility of providing and maintaining adequate courtrooms and other court facilities including janitorial service, except as otherwise provided in this section.

SB 15 would have altered this provision to provide the gradual transfer of the responsibility from the county to the state with certain counties transitioning as early as FY 2016. The state would have paid rent for the properties starting at 10% or 20% of fair market value rent and increasing annually to 100%.

Finally, after full state takeover (i.e. 100% rental rate) for the properties, there would have been the option for the state to simply buy the property outright.

After the state has completely assumed the responsibility of providing and maintaining adequate courtrooms and other court facilities in a county as specified in this section, the state may negotiate with the county to acquire the property from the county in lieu of continuing to pay rent.

SB 15 had met with initial approval by the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee on February 2, but was ultimately killed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 10.