PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Municipal Courts building in downtown Pittsburgh operates 24/7 365 days a year round the clock for court hearings and arraignments, but come November it’s one court function that will be running out money.
“Every citizen should be able to have their case heard and so we have to be careful of those services that we’re looking to either reduce or eliminate,” Raymond Billotte, the court administrator, said.
The courts say they’ve cut as much as possible but will be $5 million short in providing the public legally required court access, juvenile probation services and a child support collection program and they’re not alone.
“We’re facing a budget crisis,” Allegheny County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty said.
Because of cutbacks in state and federal funding, flat revenues and increased health care costs, Flaherty says the county is looking at a shortfall next year of more than $30 million dollars that will hit all departments.
“We have so much revenue for so many services and you’re going to have to start making tough choices on what to do,” Flaherty said.
That means both significant layoffs and cutbacks in services sooner rather than later. The county has ordered the community college to cut expenses by $2.5 million and administrators are looking at reducing offerings before the end of the year.
But where the students will have little recourse, the courts may mount a legal challenge.
The Onorato administration says it will work with the court system but everyone needs to tighten its belt and live within its mean.
However, if funding isn’t restored, a judge may decide who’s right.