|BILL AS INTRODUCED||2007-2008|
Introduced by Committee on Institutions
Subject: County courthouses; capital expenditures; use by state courts; assistant judges; authority to borrow
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to direct the state court, district court, and judicial bureau to pay rent for the cost of using a county courthouse; authorize assistant judges to borrow a limited amount for capital construction with authorization from 75 percent of the legislative bodies of the municipalities in the county; authorize assistant judges to request state funds raised through bonding to pay for capital construction required due to a federal or state mandate or to correct a threat to health and safety; and clarify existing provisions of law which authorize a county to create a capital construction reserve fund.
AN ACT RELATING TO OBLIGATIONS OF THE STATE AND COUNTY REGARDING CAPITAL EXPENDITURES ON COUNTY COURTHOUSES
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 24 V.S.A. § 71a(a) is amended to read:
as provided herein, each county shall provide and own a suitable courthouse,
pay all utility and custodial services and keep
such the courthouse
suitably furnished and equipped for use by the superior court and probate
court, together with suitable offices for the county clerk, assistant judges,
and probate judges. Office space for the probate court may be provided
elsewhere by the county. Each county shall provide fireproof safes or vaults
for the safekeeping of the official files and records required to be kept by
county officials, including the files and records of a justice of the peace who
has vacated his or her office. Use of the county courthouse by the supreme
court, district court, family court or the judicial bureau may be permitted by
the assistant judges when such use does not conflict with the use of the
building by the superior court , provided that the office of court
administrator shall pay the cost of any such use should the assistant judges
choose not to pay the cost by use of county funds. In this case, the
court administrator shall pay the county a percentage of the cost of
operations, debt service, and depreciation equal to the percentage of square
footage of the building used by the state courts.
Sec. 2. 24 V.S.A. § 84 is added to read:
§ 84. AUTHORITY TO BORROW
The assistant judges may borrow for capital improvements without putting the matter before the voters, provided:
(1) the terms of the loan require that it be paid back no more than 10 years from the date of execution;
(2) the annual debt service payment, for all loans combined, is no greater than 15 percent of the revenues raised from taxes in the year before the loan is made; and
(3) the legislative bodies of at least 75 percent of the municipalities in the county approve, by majority vote.
Sec. 3. 24 V.S.A. § 85 is added to read:
§ 85. ESSENTIAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
(a) In this section, an “essential construction project” is a project which is necessary due to a federal or state requirement or a project created by unanticipated circumstances or events which create a threat to the safety and health of those using the building.
(b) When capital construction is an essential construction project, the assistant judges may request state assistance by submitting preliminary plans and cost estimates to the administrator of the supreme court who may include it in the budget request made to the commissioner of finance and management pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 301. The commissioner shall include the project in the annual capital budget request made under 32 V.S.A. § 309.
Sec. 4. 24 V.S.A. § 133(e) is amended and (i) and (j) are added to read:
proposed budget shall contain any cost estimates and preliminary plans for
capital construction in the county pursuant to subchapter 2 of chapter 3 of
this title, estimates of the indebtedness of the county, estimates of the
probable ordinary expenses of the county for the ensuing year, and any and all
other expenses and obligations of the county.
The budget may contain
provision for additions to a reserve fund and the accumulated total reserve
fund shall not at any time exceed an amount equal to ten percent of the current
budget presented. Pursuant to a capital program, as described in section 4426
of this title, the budget may also include a provision for a separate reserve
fund for capital construction, reconstruction, remodeling, repairs, renovation,
design, or redesign which shall not at any time exceed an amount equal to 50
percent of the current budget presented. However, if capital construction,
reconstruction, remodeling, repairs, renovation, design, or redesign is
necessitated by an insured loss or damage to a county building, the separate
reserve fund may also include the amount of insurance proceeds received as a
result of the loss or damage. All county budgets shall be presented on the
form prescribed by the auditor of accounts, after consultation with the
association of assistant judges, and shall include the amounts currently
budgeted for each item included in the proposed budget.
(i) Of unencumbered funds remaining at the close of a fiscal year, an amount equal to up to 10 percent of the current budget presented may be expended in the next fiscal year.
(j) Pursuant to a capital program, as described in section 4430 of this title, a proposed budget may also include a provision for a separate capital program reserve fund for capital construction, reconstruction, remodeling, repairs, renovation, design, or redesign. The amount deposited into the capital program reserve fund in one year shall not be greater than 10 percent of the previous year’s operating budget, and the total amount in the fund shall not at any time exceed an amount equal to 50 percent of the previous year’s operating budget. However, if capital construction, reconstruction, remodeling, repairs, renovation, design, or redesign is necessitated by an insured loss or damage to a county building, the separate reserve fund may also include the amount of insurance proceeds received as a result of the loss or damage.
Sec. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect for FY2009.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street