Juvenile Court Upgrades Could be Impacted by Budget Crunch

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(Memphis) Shelby County Juvenile Court is asking for million dollars to make changes the federal government tells them they must make.

The only problem is the county commission is asking all departments to cut their budgets this year, not ask for more money.

“We have some increased requirements for a more intense probation service,” said Court CAO Larry Scroggs.

Intense means hiring more people including defense attorneys for juveniles.

They also need new specialized equipment.

Commissioner Terry Roland says since the commission didn't have a say in the changes ordered by the federal government, it shouldn't be required to pay for them.

“To me the public had no say in it. And if the department of justice thinks all this money needs to be paid then they need to fork it up not the good folks of Shelby County,” said Roland.

Roland is against the county's plan to raise property taxes just to balance the budget, never mind giving the court system the money.

Commissioner Sydney Chism says the commission should help the courts, but there are questions about how much of the cost could be shared with the state, “Whether the state pays for it or we pay for it, it has to be paid for. I don't want a legal battle."

Chism says a legal battle over who should pay for violations at the courts would still cost you big bucks, “We've got to spend money on that entity and it should go to the kids. So I don't want to go there if I don't have too."

Commissioner Mike Ritz says the state should pay what it takes to bring the county into compliance, and the county can pick it up from there.

The court has three years to find the money and comply with the federal orders.