Walczyk, Ritchie Bill to Eliminate Need for Second City of Watertown Courtroom Passes Legislature Measure to Save City Residents More Than $3 Million

Assemblyman Mark Walczyk and State Senator Patty Ritchie are announcing their bill to reduce the number of Watertown City Court Judges and in turn, spare Watertown taxpayers from spending upwards of $3 million for a second city courtroom, has received final passage.

In 2014, Watertown City Court judgeships increased from one full-time and one part-time judge to two full-time positions. As a result of the increase, the City is required by state law to construct a second courtroom. The estimated cost to do so is upwards of $3 million.

Introduced at the request of the City of Watertown, the measure sponsored by Senator Ritchie and Assemblyman Walczyk (S.8302/A.10514) would revert the number of Watertown City Court Judges back to one-full time and one part-time judge — a change that would eliminate the need for a second courtroom and save taxpayers millions of dollars.

“I’m proud to have worked alongside Senator Ritchie and successfully fought back against this unfunded mandate. Together we gained bipartisan support that will result in saving taxpayers $3 million on a courtroom the City of Watertown never asked for,” said Assemblyman Walczyk. “I sincerely hope the Governor will do the right thing and sign this bill into law. Local budgets are tight and removing this unfunded state mandate is a common-sense solution for Watertown taxpayers.”

“Now more than ever, it’s unreasonable to ask cash-strapped local governments to bear the burden of unfunded state mandates,” said Senator Ritchie. “Our taxpayers need real relief and that’s what this legislation is providing. I would like to thank Assemblyman Walczyk for partnering with me on this important issue and am hopeful the Governor will sign this bill into law as soon as possible.”

“Simply put, this is tremendous news for the City of Watertown and its taxpayers,” said Mayor Jeff Smith. “The City of Watertown doesn’t need, nor can it afford a $3 million second courtroom. This fact has only been underscored by the financial challenges the City now faces as a result of the pandemic. I would like to thank Senator Ritchie and Assemblyman Walczyk for their concern for the taxpayer and their steadfast support on this issue.”

The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.