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Van Buren Attorney Says Individual Court Cost Over Estimated

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Van Buren Attorney Says Individual Court Cost Over Estimated

Van Buren County’s attorney said the General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee has over estimated the cost of giving the county its own general sessions court.

Attorney Howard Upchurch told Commissioners Tuesday night that Van Buren is the only county statewide to share its general sessions judge. Van Buren and White County currently split one judge.

The legislature is considering a bill to establish a court in each county. The estimated cost for Van Buren County: about $240,000 in fiscal year 2023.

“Our general sessions judge cost will not be as much as White County’s,” Upchurch said. “In fact, it will be a small percentage. It will be a little bit greater than what we’re paying now but certainly it won’t be near the $240,000 that they project in this fiscal impact.”

County Mayor Greg Wilson said he believed Van Buren’s cost for the new judge would be approximately $22,000 more than it currently pays. Upchurch said he was trying to get more accurate salary data from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

“There are some individuals who have already expressed interest in the position,” Upchurch said. “They have also reached out to the AOC or other officials and they also concur and they believe that’s what the total salary would be.”

Upchurch said he anticipated the new judge would be paid between $60-65,000 annually. The county would be also responsible for travel and supplies.

The new judge would not begin until September 1, 2022 if the legislature approves the bill. The house version has been removed from Civil Justice Committee’s calendar.

“The subcommittee that was considering it, because Senator Bowling perhaps had some hesitation about advancing it, they pulled the bill out,” Upchurch said. “But Speaker Sexton says that he can advance the bill with no problem if that’s our desire. He indicated that Mayor Wilson had called him and asked him to do that and that’s what he intended to do.”

Upchurch said that even if the General Assembly passed the legislation it will require approval by the Van Buren County Commission before it is implemented. State law requires that the legislature would have to increase funding to pay part of the new costs.


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