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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 4: Rental of quarters and space; rental of court facilities

Section 4. The judicial branch may lease buildings and land owned by a county, city, or town to provide suitable quarters and space for court facilities and necessary related activities such as parking. The judicial branch may, in the alternative, lease such buildings and land from other public or private entities as the interest of the efficient and cost-effective administration of justice requires. The court administrator shall be responsible for negotiating leases between the judicial branch and other parties, subject to the approval of the chief justice of the supreme judicial court, and in compliance with laws and regulations governing state leases.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, no payments for rent shall exceed the prevailing rent a commercial establishment would pay for comparable space in that geographic area, excluding that portion of said prevailing rent attributable to property taxes.

The rental of court facilities pursuant to this section shall be governed by a lease subject to the approval of the division of capital asset management and maintenance. Every county, city, or town which receives rental payments pursuant to this section shall submit a schedule, subject to approval by the court administrator, detailing the cost of maintenance, repairs, utilities, county courthouse retiree health benefits, not less than $1 per square foot for administrative costs, and debt service on the rented facilities. The court administrator of the trial court shall file such schedules with the house and senate committees on ways and means within ten days of their receipt. Every county, city or town which receives payments under this section shall maintain such funds in a separate account which shall be used solely for the maintenance of the rented facilities, and all rents paid to any such county, city or town shall be expended for courthouse maintenance costs; provided, however, that for the purposes of this section, ''maintenance costs'' may include healthcare benefits for retirees of the county courthouses. Each such county, city or town shall provide the court administrator with all such data as he may request regarding such accounts and expenditures. The court administrator shall monitor compliance with these accounting and expenditure requirements, and the state auditor shall annually audit said court facilities rental accounts and related accounts of such county, city, or town.

Every lease for the rental of such court facilities by the judicial branch shall contain uniform, statewide standards for the respective counties, cities and towns, with respect to issues including but not limited to expenditure reporting, safety, maintenance, repairs, security, and complaints by judicial personnel, and shall provide for automatic renewal except in cases of noncompliance with such standards and with accounting and expenditure requirements; provided, such standards shall be incorporated in the long-term leases of cities and towns upon the expiration and renewal of such leases. The counties, cities and towns shall provide the court administrator with all such data as he may request to monitor compliance with such standards, and the court administrator shall compile such data and present it to the court facilities council.

Each fiscal year, quarterly payments of the estimated rental amounts shall be made to each county equal to at least 100 per cent of the amount owed to such county for such rent per quarter of the preceding fiscal year pursuant to this section, subject to reconciliation based on accurate cost data in the fourth quarter or in the succeeding fiscal year; provided, however, that payments shall not be made for the third or fourth quarter to any county in the absence of a current lease and unless the county has submitted and the chief administrative justice has approved the required schedule of expenditures; provided, however, that if the quarterly payment is more than 5 days late, the judicial branch shall pay to the county a penalty equal to 5 per cent of the quarterly payment due.