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VIDEO: Banning Justice Center is Expected Open in Spring 2014

Banning-Beaumont Patch video by Guy McCarthy

Court and project officials tour the Banning Justice Center work site in Banning, Calif., Dec. 12, 2013. Banning-Beaumont Patch photo by Guy McCarthy.
Court and project officials tour the Banning Justice Center work site in Banning, Calif., Dec. 12, 2013. Banning-Beaumont Patch photo by Guy McCarthy.
Completion of the new Banning Justice Center was originally hoped for by Fall 2013, but it's now expected to open sometime in Spring 2014, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

A groundbreaking ceremony was staged in February 2012 and the authorized budget remains at $63.2 million. The finished courthouse on Ramsey Street will cover 68,399 square feet and house six courtrooms.

"We're looking at the end of the first quarter of 2014," Gary Swanson, project manager for the AOC said Thursday during a tour of the construction site. "We have some wiggle room, but we don't to give a date. Things can change. It can take a couple weeks to get moved in, and up and running a hundred percent."

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jeff Prevost said Dec. 12 he's pleased with progress at the building site.

"It's been a few months since I've been here and it's nice to see it coming along," Prevost said. "It's going to be a beautiful facility.

"It's going to give us several more courtrooms we expect," Prevost said. "We should get more judges in the future and we'll be able to accommodate them. We'll be able to serve the community in a much better fashion."

According to state court officials, the "mid-county region" of Riverside County is currently served by the Southwest Justice Center with 12 courtrooms, the Hemet Courthouse with 5 courtrooms, the Temecula Courthouse with 1 courtroom, and the Banning Courthouse with 2 courtrooms, for a total of 20 courtrooms serving the region.

The Banning Justice Center, which will also be known as the Riverside Midcounty Region Courthouse, will replace the Banning Courthouse and create more space for the Superior Court.

The building will include space for court administration, a court clerk, court security operations, a holding area, and facility support.

The total estimated project cost for the Banning Justice Center includes land acquisition, architectural design, construction, and other costs, Teresa Ruano, of the Judicial Council of California - Administrative Office of the Courts, said in 2012.

Estimated project costs financed by lease revenue bonds were $54.5 million, Ruano said.

The new Justice Center is considered a catalyst and complement for other development in downtown Banning, including the planned Village at Paseo San Gorgonio, according to Bill Manis, economic development director and public information officer for the City of Banning.

The Banning Justice Center project is funded by revenues from within the judicial branch, with no impact on the state's General Fund, according to the Judicial Council, the policy-making body for California courts. Lease payments that repay the bonds will be supported by dedicated court filing fees, surcharges, and criminal penalties.
Jeremiah December 13, 2013 at 10:26 AM
I wonder how many noticed at the end of the article where the funds to repay the bonds sold to build this courthouse are coming from? The very first thing mentioned is court filing fees. It says also that the cost of building this courthouse doesn't impact the State of California budget. So if I read this right the people in the area are building a nice new courthouse for the State with local funds. **** Jeremiah
Ellen Carr December 14, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Ouch!
a litttle justice December 14, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Jeremiah. I have read many articles leading up to the start of this project that said the State was paying for this. The reason for the delay was to make sure the funding was available. I believe that the funding does come from court fees, but this 60 million dollar court house was not paid for by local funds.
Jeremiah December 15, 2013 at 08:55 AM
Here is a quote from the article: "The Banning Justice Center project is funded by revenues from within the judicial branch, with no impact on the state's General Fund, according to the Judicial Council, the policy-making body for California courts. Lease payments that repay the bonds will be supported by dedicated court filing fees, surcharges, and criminal penalties.". **** That doesn't sound to me like State funds are paying for it, unless the article is completely wrong or misleading. And the other State courts are already strapped for funding and closing courtrooms to stay solvent, so how are they going to come up with the repayment of the bonds? As the article says, they are going to increase the filing fees and fees charged for justice. That translates to the public paying more money, hence the courthouse IS being paid for by local funds. It's called being hood-winked. Our government has become quite good at that, unfortunately. Those stories were the normal "pie-in-the-sky" thinking that have gotten us into the financial condition we are in. **** I am not saying it isn't needed or that it won't bring ancillary business to Banning - I am simply pointing out that nothing comes for free and if the State general fund isn't being tapped and the Judicial system is already having to close courtrooms for lack of money then the funds to repay the bonds are being passed through to the end user - Banning/Beaumont/Cabazon residents. That scares me, because it gives the judiciary a vested interest in finding as many people guilty as possible to uphold their budget and it increases filing fees on an area that is already known for lower income than most. **** Jeremiah
ATC December 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM
I too have wondered from the very beginning how they are going to staff this new courthouse, when they are laying off and closing other courthouses due to budget issues, but perhaps this will consolidate a few of them that have closed, and of course the majority of cases heard here would not necessarily be just Pass residents (I doubt Banning residents are so criminal as to fill this many courtrooms on a full time basis). But the article does NOT say "increased" filling fees, rather it says "dedicated" filing fees. That suggests that the normal fees will go specifically towards those bonds rather than into the general fund to be pissed away. Not necessarily a bad thing, IMO. Time will tell, and hopefully it will indeed help to jumpstart the downtown area's economy.

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