Two years removed from the verge of fiscal collapse, Connecticut's restructured Probate Court system has returned more than $10 million to state's coffers over the past two fiscal years.
And though the restructured system's administrative budget now includes an annual assist from the General Fund, probate courts will return nearly three-quarters of the state money they received this fiscal year.
"Court consolidation dramatically cut costs, and the savings will benefit the taxpayers of the state on an ongoing basis," Judge Paul J. Knierim, the state's probate court administrator, said Friday.
The courts, which are projected to spend $33.5 million this fiscal year, cover the bulk of their operating costs through service fees, though the system also received $7.5 million from the state budget.
Knierim's office reported last week that $5.5 million of those dollars will be going back.
One of the oldest probate courts systems in the nation, with roots dating back over 300 years, the Connecticut courts underwent a dramatic restructuring in January 2011 to reverse growing financial woes.
The state's 117 court districts were consolidated into 54, while judges' salaries were reset based on caseloads and capped at 75 percent of the $146,780 annual salary for a Superior Court judge.
Knierim said that these changes have kept probate judges' pay essentially flat since the restructuring. That, along with the overall reduction in judicial posts, has been the biggest, single, cost-control measure.
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Restructured Probate Court System Sends Dollars Back to State's Coffers