Judge: Lake could lose courthouseThe Sixth Judicial District courthouse may not be in Lake County next year, no matter who gets the judge seat after the election in November.
The Sixth Judicial District courthouse may not be in Lake County next year, no matter who gets the judge seat after the election in November.
Retiring district Judge Ken Sandvik said the budget will be down to about $7.5 million in 2011 after being close to $10 million a few years ago, which could mean a shift to another courthouse – possibly in Duluth. He spoke to the Lake County Board of Commissioners Tuesday during its regular meeting at the courthouse.
“It could happen relatively quickly,” Sandvik said.
Sandvik said the district is overstaffed and there is the possibility of layoffs in the future. He said if an employee were to retire, they probably wouldn’t be replaced.
“[We] are dominated by fiscal conservatives,” Sandvik said.
If the courthouse were to move to a location like Duluth, the county would incur costs that come with it, like transportation for attorneys, defendants and social services personnel. A similar cost could also be thrust upon Cook County, part of the district, if Grand Marais services were moved to Duluth.
County Commissioner Rick Goutermont said the cost to transfer people to another location is “very measurable.” He said the county built the current jail to cut down on transfer costs.
County Attorney Russ Conrow said using interactive television for court cases which would help save money. Sandvik didn’t think there was any money in the budget for that.
A preliminary look at next year’s budget sees a zero to one-percent increase. The board plans to approve a preliminary levy in the coming weeks.
Steve VanKekerix will likely be named the new Lake County undersheriff when Undersheriff Jerry Norberg retires Sept. 30.
Human Services director
Lake County continues to look at combining health and human services with other counties in the region, including Cook County. County leaders have discussed a shared director since Dennis Henkel retired after a DUI arrest this summer. The county has had applicants for the position and will likely halt the interview process so it can look further into combining services.